In an earlier article – The Blish Model – how you can write the perfect newsletter – I explained exactly how you can create a piece of writing that engages, and holds, the attention of your readers. Or, if you like, how you can and should be a storyteller.
Another article – What’s your perspective? – looked at the gentle art of ‘stepping back’ from your subject matter so you can see it as others do.
Put those two techniques together – along with the other ideas we’ve examined on this blog – and you will reach an (inevitable) conclusion:
To write successful marketing copy you need to be a storyteller. More importantly, you need to be a good storyteller.
I can’t help feeling that this almost takes us back to the days of the hack reporter on a daily newspaper (unfortunately, or in some cases fortunately, a breed that’s almost extinct).
Because the good ones understood that it wasn’t just the news that sold newspapers. It was the stories – and, in particular, the way those stories were told.
So – how can you become a storyteller?
Let’s face it, some people could make a hurricane in New Orleans sound boring.
Which is all very well if you’re starting with genuinely exciting subject matter. The difficulty comes when you’re dealing with something that isn’t, in and of itself, particularly interesting.
Where, you may very reasonably ask, is the story in that?
OK, so let’s pick a challenging subject – wooden pallets. What could possibly be exciting about wooden pallets?
I had to find an answer to that question myself, on one of my first commissions for a corporate video company back in the 1980s.
So I began – as usual – with a visit to the client at his small factory high up in the bleak and windswept Pennines.
And sat with him for about two and half hours. Learning everything I never really wanted to know about wooden pallets.
Finally, towards the end of the interview, I found the nugget I was looking for.
The client had given me chapter and verse (in fact chapter, verse, comma and full stop) on the way they sourced the timber they used for their pallets. He told me that they always chose a slightly more expensive wood which was more resistant to stress.
‘You see,’ he explained, ‘that means they’re less likely to break when they’re all being pushed along a conveyor belt.’
And there – of course – was the story.
We opened the video with a sequence based on a computer game – lorries arriving at a factory and feeding pallets onto a conveyor. After about 30 seconds one of the pallets shatters, spilling its load – and stopping the conveyor (and, in fact, the whole production line) dead in its tracks. Caption: ‘Game Over’.
A 30-second visual story that summed up the unique selling point of those (slightly more expensive) pallets in just two words…
And what’s your story?
Well, it isn’t about how great you are. How many staff you’ve got. What your turnover is. Or (if you’re on Facebook) what you or your cat had for breakfast.
It will be about what you do for your clients. How you’ve helped them. What problems you’ve solved for them – and what problems you’ve helped them to avoid.
And if you still need some help – why not drop us a line?