Storyselling helps you strategically deliver stories that get people to take action. It supercharges your content marketing and copywriting to increase sales.
If you’re wondering how to make a living online as a writer who works in marketing, advertising, or another creative field, then you’re going to be thrilled to learn all about storyselling.
Writers who provide services to businesses benefit from storyselling because your ability to craft stories that drive action make you a writer businesses would love to hire.
And if you sell products, your ability to craft words in your business blogging that drive action help prospects make the choice to buy the products you offer.
What is storyselling?
Starting a blog to promote the products or services you sell online is a great first step, but you can’t just write articles about anything that comes to mind (or play just what you feel, for that matter).
Your blog post ideas have to tell compelling marketing stories that help you stand out from your competition.
That’s where storyselling comes in. It ensures that all of the time and energy you put into writing great content doesn’t go to waste, so you actually reach your goals. Blogging can be a hobby, but storyselling turns your blog into a business.
7 steps to killer storyselling
The step-by-step guide below will get you up and running with the basics of great storyselling to help your online business ideas come to life.
You’ll be well-positioned to build a blog that builds your business.
Of course, we’ll start with copywriting.
Step #1: Copywriting fundamentals
Unfortunately, nothing sells itself.
Smart content entrepreneurs know that people find great businesses through marketing and advertising.
So, the first step to storyselling is identifying the ideal person who is the perfect fit for what you sell. With copywriting, you speak directly to one person.
In order to do that, you need to intimately get to know that prospect.
- What problems do they need solved?
- What desires do they need fulfilled?
- How can you make their lives easier?
- What type of language do they use?
- What makes them laugh?
- What makes them feel inspired?
- Who do they turn to when they need to talk with someone?
- When are they ready to make a purchase?
- Why haven’t other solutions worked?
- How can you help them in ways other businesses don’t?
If you have an outstanding, ethical product or service, your target audience should be thrilled to hear about it.
Don’t be shy about using proven techniques — such as copywriting — to make sure the right people hear about how you can help them.
Word choice is critical here, as you empathize and build a bond with your prospect.
In order to guide him to the products or services that are right for his needs or desires, you have to use the right words.
“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.” – David Ogilvy
Whether you’re selling a product, a service, a message, or an idea, your copywriting has a goal.
Every word, every sentence, every paragraph is intentional — it’s not about fulfilling a certain word count or writing a certain number of pages.
However, as a rule of thumb, long copy typically works better than short copy.
It’s simply because the more opportunities you have in your storyselling to make compelling arguments in favor of your offer, the more opportunities you have to persuade someone to take you up on it.
You have to understand why someone might be hesitant to buy and overcome those fears as you guide them to make a decision (more on that in Storyselling Step #6 below.)
Step #2: Storyselling combines content marketing and copywriting
If you have a great offer, weak marketing actually does everyone a disservice.
But what exactly is copy? And how does it fit in with content marketing?
In short, copy is creative text that intentionally guides someone to do business with you.
Picture Don Draper from Mad Men staring out a window, Canadian Club whisky in hand, quietly contemplating the perfect way to position a product to make his client (and himself) a lot of money.
It’s not quite that glamorous in practice, but it does require a large dose of creativity and discipline.
You create content to attract and engage an audience. Then, your copywriting skills help close the deal so that those people become customers.
Content marketing is marketing that is too valuable to throw away. Blogs, podcasts, and videos are common platforms used for storyselling.
Copywriting is the art and science of persuasive writing. It’s the words that guide someone to take the action you want them to take (i.e., Subscribe, Join, Buy) after you’ve hooked them with your remarkable storyselling in your content.
The two practices use empathy to build an audience and convert prospects into buyers.
Content marketing is a vase.
Copywriting is a flower.
The vase is the valuable container that holds a persuasive flower (your offer).
Content marketing and copywriting work together for your business.
“What does someone need to know to do business with you?”
You’re always thinking of what the prospect is going through — and how you can meet them where they are to guide them on their journey.
Empathize with your prospect on their journey from where they are to where they want to be.
- What does that person think?
- What does that person feel?
- What does that person see?
- What does that person do?
Researching those factors gives you a pool of information to pull from that helps you choose the right words for your final copy.
Once you’ve learned about your prospect, you take your reader on a storyselling journey that persuades.
Step #3: The art of persuasion
Now that we’re clear on how content marketing and copywriting work together, we can drill down into your main job as a copywriter who uses storyselling: persuasion.
In order to persuade, you have to intimately know who you’re talking to and avoid vague language, so make sure you’ve reviewed Storyselling Steps #1 and #2 above.
Have a clear, specific picture of your ideal customer?
Here’s a 5-part template to help persuade them to do business with you:
- Where your prospect is on their buying journey
- What you’ve got for them
- What it’s going to do for them
- Who you are
- What the prospect needs to do next
Whether you want to get an opt-in for your email list, gain a new blog subscriber, make a sale, or just inspire readers to support your favorite cause, start with this storyselling method.
You can add other copywriting techniques to make it work even better, but with the following elements in place, you’ll have the most important bases covered.
Let’s look at each of the five elements.
1. Where the prospect is on their buying journey
You’ll start by telling a story that the prospect can see themselves in. They’re the hero in this story and you’re going to be their guide.
Your goal is to show them that you understand:
- Where they’re at
- What they’re going through
- Their struggles
- Their frustrations
- What brings them joy
- Where they’d like to be in the next few weeks … the next few months … the next few years
This is your biggest opportunity to be creative and form a bond with your readers.
What do your competitors miss or get wrong? Take advantage of storyselling to fill in those gaps.
2. What you’ve got for them
After you’ve demonstrated that you understand where the prospect is on their buying journey, you next have to describe what you have for them.
What’s your product? What does it do? Who’s it for?
Start with a simple overview of what you’ve got to offer, and before you elaborate on that too much, fulfill the next requirement …
3. What it’s going to do for them
Here’s where we talk about the great benefits of taking the action you want your reader to take.
What’s better about life with your product or service?
Describe the end result, the “after” picture once your customer has bought your product and used it as you recommend.
Let the reader know how your product helps her reach the goals that matter most to her.
Now it’s time to unpack the rest of what the product or service is all about.
These are “features.” They’re important, although they’re not as important as “benefits.”
But if you gloss over the details of what your product or service actually contains, people will be hesitant about putting their money down. And as we all know, hesitant people don’t buy.
Typically, the best way to list features is with a series of fascinating bullet points. Include enough specifics to make the product feel valuable.
Bullet points are a “secret weapon” for copywriters because they pull the eye in and let you make your point in a powerful, skimmable way.
4. Who you are
Most of the time, you need to establish that you’re a trustworthy person and that you know what you’re talking about.
That’s why good sales letters often include a photo near the top of the page.
The photo can include some element personalized to your business that helps the reader like and trust you.
Remember that this is not just who you are, but how you’re like your customer, and what you offer that will benefit her.
So, it’s not actually about you after all — it’s about how you help her.
5. What the prospect needs to do next
This is your call to action (more on this below in Storyselling Step #7).
The reader needs to know specifically what to do next.
To move forward with the sale, tell the reader what to do right this minute. Be specific and painstakingly clear.
Storyselling isn’t just about exchanging dollars. It’s about motivating a specific, well-defined behavior.
The next time you see a really masterful sales pitch, try to identify these five elements. Look for it in infomercials, catalog copy, sales letters, and good product reviews.
When you start spotting these persuasion elements “in the wild,” you’ll be on your way to becoming a more effective copywriter — a copywriter who sells.