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Storytelling is a big, BIG part of copywriting. Because a story can contain an important element. An emotion. Emotion moves people. When you write a good marketing story, it’s like an open invitation to connect with you. To sympathize with your cause, to BUY from you. Your copy is words that describe feelings. The feelings your readers will enjoy (or avoid) when they use your product. How do you exactly use the principles of storytelling in your copywriting?
Well, I recently studied a storytelling course made by Pixar.
You know, the biggest company in the business of storytelling. Yeah, that Pixar. Anyway, I managed to glean some deep lessons on storytelling. And converted them to copywriting tactics you can use. No problem, you’re welcome.
Every story has two elements, character and world. The story comes from a what-if question about these two elements. Like, what if our world is a simulation controlled by machines! What if a baby lion got lost in the jungle! What does that have to do with copywriting? A lot.
I’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s ask what’s a story? A story is a sequence of events taking place in a confined space and time. The story unfolds within a world and time, which are governed by a set of rules.
To apply that to your copywriting imagine your buying persona as the character. The buyer persona is the protagonist, the hero of the story.
If your blog post is the story, then put the reader in the middle of the action. If you’re selling a car. Let your reader drive the car in the blog post story. Let them feel what it’s like to drive that car.
Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Fashion your blog post in that manner. Beginning from seeing the car, getting in, and driving it, and leaving the scene.
Tell your hero about the world without the car, and the world with the car. How’s the world become different when the reader uses the product? How the hero is behaving without the car, and how the reader is behaving with the car? These are the basics of powerful “storywriting” or “copytelling.”
Understanding your audience in copywriting is a pillar. One of the best ways to understand your character is to put them in different situations. How would they react in a stuck elevator, for example? Also, What Would They Do If X Happened or What Would They Do In X Situation· This will help you flesh out a strong buyer persona that you can talk to!
It’s like breathing life into ghosts. Here’s why:
When you’ve a fully developed buyer persona it can help you write on point. So, every buyer persona or character has internal and external features. External features are how they dress, talk, and what they look like. Internal features are their personality, they may be jealous, brave, insecure, etc. You can consult your imagination, but let real-life personalities inspire you. Perhaps, people, you’ve already sold to?
Secondly, it’s important to understand what the buyer persona wants. Actually, the story is all about what the reader really wants or need. And these two aren’t the same thing. Your hero might want to eat a chocolate cake, but need to lose weight. Your copy should make the difference, and determine whether the product is a want or a need.
As you’ve developed your persona, and as you defined their motivations, and their needs and wants, now what?
How to further develop a buyer persona?
Now the conflict part. The obstacle that stands between your hero, and your hero’s goal in life. Not dramatic. Your hero’s obstacle could be learning to knot his tie.
The obstacle could be an internal belief, another human being, or an outside circumstance. Your copy should describe the frustration, how to overcome the obstacles and the feeling of achievement. A hint of hardship is essential to make the hero worked for it, thus, deserves it.
In that sense, the reader must feel a transformation happening. The reader was missing something in the beginning, and in the end, the reader is complete now with the product.
What’s at stake? If your hero didn’t buy this product what would happen, what wouldn’t? Will they lose reputation? Look ugly? People will hate them? What are the stakes? There are internal, external, and philosophical stakes at work. So, your copy must address each one sufficiently. You also should mention risks of doing or not doing a specific action.
A story is a sequence of events that happen in a gradual sense. The beginning, the conflict, and the resolution. Like copywriting, the identification of the problem, discussing its cause and effects, and the solution. The “copy skeleton” isn’t a scary one, rather it’s the structure that gives it a logical reason for existence.
It’s how you put your blog post together, how it flows, and how every element is a logical consequence of the previous one. Leading the reader from the beginning to the end. In the story, beats are like mini-scenes that tell another mini-story. Story beats are “what’s happening” in the story. Every beat lead to another beat in a harmonious flow. In copy, you can connect these beats with ideas. Like weaving your arguments together for a strong punchline.
To help illustrate the story beats idea, let’s look at the story spine.
Once upon a time: Establishing a connection with the audience, identify the problem (why should they care), and providing context for the story.
Every day: Write about living with the problem, describing the problem and its effects in details. How’s the world with the problem?
Until one day: Introduce the solution, and how it’ll solve the problem. (inciting incident: change is possible)
Because of that: Press on the problem. Describe in painful detail how it’s harming the reader. Make the reader feel guilt, shame, and defeat.
Because of that: The reader is losing everything and will never achieve happiness. (The Low Point)
Because of that: Or they’ve achieved everything they ever wanted. But they didn’t achieve what they NEED. (The point of no return)
Until finally: The reader starts to understand what they NEED, not what they WANT. Describe the solution to the REAL problem.
Ever since then: Describe how’s life without the problem and after applying the solution.
The moral of the story is the big idea about all of that. What’s the end end goal?
Can you imagine how to fill in the gaps? Copy beats connect through an invisible thread called THEME. The theme of the story delivers what’s called “moral of the story.” The main key points the reader should take from your story. The theme is the core idea of the story, it answers the WWWW questions:
Why should I do anything about it now?
Furthermore, the theme of the story is about what the hero needs vs. what he wants. For example, the reader could be thinking he wants to win the contest, but what he need is to learn to work in a team. Always start from the end and build up from there.
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