The Power of Storytelling

I’ll never forget the day I decided to quit my stable $50,000 a year job. Candy, the older assistant who really ran the company, had the radio on in her office. (She actually bossed me around sort of like the Meryl Streep character in “The Devil Wears Prada”. But most of the time she tolerated me. And today she actually invited me to listen in.) The news was blasting the unfolding details about the Columbine tragedy. It was unthinkable. Horrific. I jumped on the Internet and began following the story of two social outcasts plotting out an evil plan to kill their fellow students and teachers. I was especially upset because I had two young sons in elementary school while I was stuck behind a desk, unable to leave.

See when my boys, Justin and Chase, were first born in 1990 and 1992, I was a stay-at-home mom. We spent every day reading, going to parks, visiting museums – just hanging out together. It was terrific. But with my divorce in the mid 1990s, I was forced to go to work each day, leaving them in the YMCA after school care program. I realize I’m not alone – a lot of parents have to work outside the home to make ends meet. But my oldest son had a serious case of ADD and emotional immaturity. I was warned by two of his preschool teachers that he was a child who REALLY needed his mother or he could self-destruct…like those kids at Columbine.

That was the day I realized I couldn’t continue being away from my kids anymore. I had to find an escape. It took some research and a leap of faith before I pulled together enough courage to quit and become a full-time writer. It wasn’t a straight path to success but that is the story of why Red Hot Copy was born.

That’s my story. Did it get your attention?

Stories are wickedly effective in getting attention in a reader. They work in conversation. And they work like gangbusters in copy. Why?

1) Stories boost credibility. In order to tell a good story, you had better know your stuff. When your expertise is illustrated in a story you are more believable.

2) Stories spark emotional connection. We buy from an emotional state of mind, not a logical one. And dry facts seldom get us worked into an emotional lather the way stories do.

3) Stories can explore the pain of a problem. If you’re looking to paint the picture of suffering and agony in order to contrast how you or your service can be the solution, nothing does it better than a juicy story.

4) Stories make the prospect trust you. Whenever we hear a story, by nature we look for connections to our own lives (after all, it truly IS all about “me”). That relating slashes the timeframe for bonding. And we all do business with those we know, like and trust.

5) Stories bust through sales resistance. Nobody likes to be sold to. But we don’t mind kicking back and listening to (or reading) a story. You’re much more likely to keep the prospect’s attention by telling a story than hitting him or her over the head with hype.

So for your own story inspiration, pay attention to little events that happen to you. Get in the habit of writing them down every day in a notebook you dedicate just to stories. (Type them if you like but it’s been proven there is a connection between writing things out by hand and brain stimulation.) Don’t edit at first. Just get it all out there. Over time, you will start getting more concise. The point is to create a habit. It will take a little practice at first, but the payoff is huge.

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Copywriting guru Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero has been helping entrepreneurs and copywriters get their marketing messages razor sharp since 1999. Get free access to 5 tips to turn your “blah” sales message into red-hot copy that ROCKS… at

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