Storytelling in Copywriting
Riddle me this: what is as old as time but reborn every single day?
You can hear it, see it, smell it, taste it, feel it. But it’s completely invisible. It exists in every country in the world, yet you still take it with you everywhere you go.
Hey guys, this is Word Philocaly again. We’re so glad that you’re here reading our article. And yes, we are sure many of you have guessed the riddle by now, thanks to the title of this article.
The answer, of course, is STORYTELLING. It’s the most potent form of human communication and has been around since prehistoric times.
Storytelling in Copywriting and Marketing
So yes, it’s as old as time. Yet, new stories are being told every single day. Storytelling evokes all of your senses. Especially storytelling in copywriting.
According to storytelling analyst Lisa Cron in her book, Wired For Story: the regions of the brain that process the sights, sounds, tastes, and real-life movement are activated when we’re engrossed in a compelling narrative.
So, when a story enthralls us, we are inside of it, feeling what the protagonist feels and experiencing it as if it were indeed happening to us. There you have it. You can hear it, see it, smell it, taste it, feel it. Yet, it’s completely invisible.
Every culture on the planet has storytelling built into its DNA. It’s how traditions and customs, and norms are passed through the generations. And before there were printing press, digital archives, voice memos, Siri, and YouTube, verbal storytelling was the backbone of education and advancement.
We all remember the stories our parents and grandparents have told us about their parents and grandparents. And we’ll pass those stories onto our children too. So yes, storytelling exists in every country in the world, yet you take it with you on your journey through life, everywhere you go.
There’s no doubt that storytelling is insanely powerful. And we are not the first to tell you that this form of communication is critical for engaging your audience. Especially in a saturated and highly competitive market. Every good copywriter and content marketer knows this to be true. They use storytelling structures in sales letters, company profiles, landing pages, campaigns, and website copy.
Storytelling creates relatability, authority, and trust with your prospect. But how exactly do you weave storytelling into your copy? What are some best formulas that have worked time and time again?
Word Philocaly’s 4 Storytelling in Copywriting Techniques
We are here to share our top four storytelling techniques, which we have used repeatedly in our projects. And if you want to learn more about copywriting, content writing, website copywriting, or SEO copywriting solutions, we share a new article every week right here on our website. If you’re not already part of the posse yet, bookmark our website to join us or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
And if you’ve been with us for a while, thank you so much! Comment below or share this article to let us know you’re here!
Alright, now let’s move on to our list of storytelling techniques. Starting with the most classic of them all, and you’ve likely heard of it.
1. The Hero’s Journey
Also known as the Monomyth, The Hero’s Journey was conceptualized by Joseph Campbell in his book, A Hero With A Thousand Faces.
This story structure has been used in films, and comics, and literature around the world. It features a hero — also known as the protagonist— who is called to awaken their potential by setting out on a harrowing journey and ultimately triumphing over adversity.
The Hero’s Journey, which has inspired marketers and screenwriters throughout the past century, can be summarized into three main acts:
The first is The Departure: When an external event compels the Hero to leave their ordinary world.
Second, The Initiation: When the hero ventures into unfamiliar territory (also known as the “unknown world”), meets a mentor or guide, and, of course, deals with various trials and challenges along the way.
And lastly, The Return: The Hero overcomes their struggles and is more courageous and wiser, returning to their Ordinary World with a sense of victory.
You can see this story arc in works like Star Wars, Batman, Game of Thrones, The Matrix; we could go on and on.
What is your favorite movie with a Hero’s Journey plotline? Let us know in the comments below!
Now, the Hero’s Journey has been fiercely studied by writers and marketers ever since Joseph Campbell’s book was released, and there are tons of fantastic resources available that will walk you through this story arc step by step.
We’ll share some of those resources with you at the end of this article to point you in the right direction. Alright, we are moving onto storytelling in copywriting technique #2.
2. Future Pacing
Future Pacing is a type of storytelling that allows the reader to imagine themselves in their ideal future. It’s a technique famously used in Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP, a unique approach to influential communication that is used by many of the world’s notable communicators like Oprah, Martin Luther King, Tony Robbins, and many more.
Now NLP is a whole science that takes hours and hours and hours to master, and we are NO EXPERT, but this particular technique can be used pretty powerfully in copywriting.
The only thing you need to know is the ONE thing your prospects are looking for. That special benefit.
Visualization Through Future Pacing
And once you’ve discovered it, use Future Pacing throughout your sales copy to help them visualize their dream life – or in other words, the life that they’d have AFTER you help them overcome their problem.
Remember, your brain can not distinguish between positive memories that have already happened or positive future dreams. So allowing readers to imagine what’s coming, you tell their brain that it’s already happened and, therefore, possible to achieve. If you can believe it, you can achieve it, as they say.
The trick is to use the present tense to signal their brain to recognize an event that has already happened. It’s also important to get highly specific with your future pacing.
For example, instead of saying, “You wake up in your hotel room on your dream holiday,” go with:
“You wake up, not to the sound of a buzzing alarm, but the exotic chirps of island birds perched outside your window. You hear waves softly lapping at the shore as you slowly stretch out under your king duvet. You can’t remember the last time you slept so soundly. If someone told you just three weeks ago that you’d end up here, you wouldn’t have believed them.”
See the difference? Do you guys want to give it a try? Comment below with a powerful Future Pacing statement about your own life or business. And keep it specific to just ONE thing you want to achieve.
So here’s one for us.
“I wake up on a gorgeous Sunday morning. The sun is filtering through the vibrant green chestnut tree in front of my house on what was supposed to be a rainy day. And I check my phone, open the YouTube app, and realize I have just hit 100,000 subscribers! Ahhh…That feels good.”
Ok, now let’s move on to storytelling technique #3.
3. The Trouble Maker
So this is a technique inspired by one of our excellent copywriters and friends when he delivered a powerful talk to Toastmasters Club on storytelling. Our friend is an avid student of storytelling techniques and writes high-converting sales letters, business plans, and website content for big companies in Malaysia.
He bases his copy on the fundamental truth that “nothing, and I mean nothing, is more interesting than trouble.” Trouble creates drama; drama creates attention, therefore making the story more memorable and effective. And, of course, the trouble scenarios he writes about reflect the problem that his product or service is attempting to solve. Our friend encourages copywriters to introduce trouble early on to capture attention, and there are two ways you can do this.
The first is what we call The Build-Up:
- Where everything seems to be going right, you’re setting the scene.
- You’re describing the main character.
- You’re building the tension.
And then, just as the reader suspects, everything goes terribly wrong.
And the second is what we call the “Sh*t Storm,”: Where you start your story right in the middle of chaos. Making your reader go- – Wait? What? How did we get here? What happened? And how do we get out?
You’ll see this technique used more and more nowadays because people want trouble right away! Or else they get bored, and they bounce. The key, though, is to draw your prospects into that story world and then turn it upside down with trouble. So you can do this by describing color, emotions, season, time, texture, activity, geography, mood, sound, or even smell.
Alright, and here’s a bonus tip: our copywriter friend has even used real-life stories as inspiration for his copy. Because let’s be honest, actual events work even better to make your story believable and relatable!
So good thing the media loves trouble just as much as your readers do! It’s not hard to find a calamity to write about. And, of course, use these stories for inspiration only – everything you write needs to be your original work.
Alright, so let’s move on to storytelling in copywriting technique number four.
4. The Before-After-Bridge
Not up for Hollywood drama? That’s ok. This B-A-B technique is one of the most straightforward copywriting tools that has been used in advertising since the dawn of the Mad Men era.
The Before-After-Bridge works because it moves your prospect from focusing on features and tools to how it will help them improve their life. So here’s a quick breakdown.
In the Before: You show your reader the world before your solution. The key is to get them to identify with the problem you are presenting. A company that uses this technique well is M.M.La Fleur, a wardrobe solution for professional women who, guess what — don’t like to shop.
It goes something like this: “You’re bored of wearing boring pantsuits, but you have better things to worry about than what to wear. You want to take the work out of dressing for work. If only there were a practical, inspired wardrobe for professional women.”
You then move on to the After — where you show your readers what their world will look like after your solution. M.M. La Fleur describes the After like:
“But imagine if you could instead focus on succeeding in the workplace and harnessing the power of your self-presentation…While dressing with ease.”
So, now you’ve created a gap between two worlds. The before and the after that your prospects want to fill. All you have to do is to bridge that gap for your product or service. M.M La Fleur bridges the gap by saying:
“Fill out a brief survey and arrive at a dressing room curated based on your fit and style preferences. Work one-on-one with a personal stylist while enjoying coffee or prosecco. Our goal is to treat you to the most productive, personalized, and stress-free shopping experience of your life.”
To their practical target audience, that sounds heavenly. The audiences feel heard, understood, and given an easy solution to solve their problem.
Engage Your Audience with Storytelling in Copywriitng
So there you have it! Those are our top four storytelling in copywriting techniques. We hope they give you a good idea of how you can engage your audience with a story.
So as always, show us some love below if you found this article helpful! And if you want to find out more about these storytelling in copywriting techniques, stay tuned to our blog for more articles in the future.
And we’ll be back in a couple of days with a brand new article, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media so that you don’t miss it. You can also get in touch with us if you need any copywriting, content writing, and translation assistance!
As always, thank you for reading, and have a great week. We are Word Philocaly. Ciao for now!
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