Storytelling: The Secret to Great Copywriting

By Kathy Wilson, ETMG Writer

“Copywriting is the art and science of writing copy (the words we use on web pages, ads, promotional materials, etc.) that sells your product or service and convinces prospective customers to take action. In many ways, it’s like hiring one great salesman to reach all your customers.”[1]

As a copywriter, your goal is to inform, to convince, to educate, to inspire, to entertain, or any combination of these. The art and science of good copywriting often lies in your ability to bring your content to life in ways that break through the noise, engage your audience, and then motivate readers to take a desired action. How do you do that? Simply put, you use every tool in your writer’s toolbox, and storytelling should be right at the top of the list!

10 tips for weaving a story into your copy:

  1. Stories need to be real, relatable, and relevant (the 3 Rs).
  2. Great storytelling often starts with an intriguing, open-ended question: “Would you rather be part of the solution or part of the problem?”
  3. Great storytelling can also start with a thought-provoking statement: “As mobile technology advances, the world as we know it faces profound change.”
  4. It’s important to select a story that is applicable to your core message.
  5. You want to create rich images with words that will percolate and hopefully leave an indelible impression on your audience (ho hum thinking need not apply).
  6. Use metaphors that will elevate your writing to a higher level.
  7. Incorporate infographics when that helps you tell a complex story simply.
  8. Consider using videos to personalize your message and help it spring to life.
  9. Weave your story seamlessly into your copy to give it the greatest impact.
  10. Remember – the better the story, the greater the effect.

A good story can stick in your reader’s mind long after they’ve turned the page

fox_hedgehogIn his famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” Isaiah Berlin divided the world into hedgehogs and foxes based on an ancient Greek parable: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Jim Collins, author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t, turns this simple metaphor into something transformative as he lays out the key points of his core message – what it takes for a company to go “from good to great.”

Would you rather be a hedgehog or a fox? At first, the answer seems obvious. The fox is fast, sleek, and crafty, while the hedgehog is a far dowdier creature. But there’s a catch. The obvious answer isn’t always the right one, and in this case the fox walks away with a nose full of spines every time it tries to defeat the lowly hedgehog. The fox never learns that the hedgehog knows one big thing really well: how to defend itself.

In the end, you want to use storytelling as a path to great copywriting, and you want to use great copywriting as a way to communicate your message as effectively as possible. The endgame is to write in a way that leaves an indelible impression on your audience.

 

Footnotes:

[1] The Definitive Guide to Copywriting

 

Resources:

Good to Great: Are You a Hedgehog or a Fox?

The Hedgehog Concept

 

Further Reading:

6 Keys to Writing a Great Case Study

The Case for the Content Editor: Polish Makes Perfect

Using Brand Journalism to Tell Your Story

 

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