They were still very much alike. Both were merrily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had become entrepreneurs.
But there was a difference. One of them was struggling because no one wanted to buy his product. The other was the owner of a successful million-dollar company with a product used by many.
This story was adapted from what is considered the” The Greatest Sales Letter Of All Time .” This particular sales letter operated from 1975-2003 and sold$ 2 billion (!) worth of Wall Street Journal subscriptions.
The key to success?
Why Stories Matter
In Chip and Dan Heath’s bestselling book Made To Stick, they discuss 6 principles on how to construct your messages sticky.
Messages that are sticky constructs us feel something, and changes something in us. It could be an entirely new way of looking at something, or an feeling we did not expect to feel.
This change inspires us to take action and then tell others about it.
One of these principles is the principle of telling stories.
Storytelling can create motions that prospects and customers can get behind. Storytelling can make a brand more personal, more human, more memorable.
All of these elements combine to create a brand that spreads by its own and make word-of-mouth.
However, despite its immense power, storytelling seems to be an elusive ability possessed by a rare few — the Christopher Nolans and Quentin Tarantinos, the Neil Gaimans and Stephen Kings.
This brings to mind the issues to 😛 TAGEND
How can a brand create compelling stories that eventually spread — and produce word-of-mouth?
Simple 😛 TAGEND
There exists a number of storytelling formulae that you can implement immediately to improve your brand storytelling.
These formulas have been used repeatedly, over and over again, by Hollywood executives, fiction writers and screenwriters to churn out entertaining narratives that mesmerize for years.
And the best part?
You can use them too.
10 Storytelling Formulas You Can Use Right Away
This is one of the most popular and easiest to enforce copywriting and storytelling formulas around.
In fact, once you’ve learnt this formula, you’ll started to notice that most pitchings, stories and landing pages are written in this manner.
Before — Demonstrate your readers the world with Problem
Paint a picture of their world with the Problem, before your answer. Make sure what you’re identifying is in tune with what the reader is really experiencing.
After — Show your readers what the world would be like with Problem Solved
Describe the future world once their problem is solved. How does it look like? Would they be interested in that world? What benefits do they get?
Bridge — Here’s how to get there
Now that they know what it looks like to be on the other side, show them how to get there … with your solution.
This is another popular copywriting formula. It is simple to understand and can be applied anywhere from Facebook Ads to blog posts.
Problem — Present a number of problems
First, you introduce a problem the reader is experiencing. Make sure that it is a real problem identifiable by your target audience.
Agitate — Agitate their own problems
Intensify and add salt to their wounds by using emotional speech that describes what they’re going through.
Solve — Solve their own problems
Offer a answer for their problem. This is the moment where you introduce your product or service.
This particular formula was designed for product-oriented narratives. This helps product designers and administrators describe and present their products in terms of benefits , not features.
The facts and characteristics of what you’re about to describe
What the features do.
Why someone should care about the advantages provided.
4. Three-Act Structure
The Three-Act Structure is an old storytelling formula that has been used in many popular plays , novels, movies, comic book, video games and verse. Most Hollywood movies follow this template, as it has been proven to be a successful technique of storytelling.
In the first act, the setup, you introduce the main characters and the setting where the tale is taking place.
In act II, usually the longest part of the entire narrative, the main character will encounter obstacles and problems in the form of people, objects or setting that will deter him from solving the problem. These obstacles will appear in rising frequency, from time to time seemingly close to solving the problem, yet will be prevented from doing so.
After a period of struggle with his both problems and obstacles, the main character will finally prevail and the story wraps up. It is also this period of time where the main character is shown to have grown beyond what he was at the start — and is now a different person.
5. Hero’s Journey
The monomyth, or what is known as the Hero’s Journey is the common formula being implemented in heroic tales where a hero embarks on a journey, suffers a crisis, wins the crisis and returns transformed.
This Hero’s Journey can be found in many myths and legends, including those of great religious leaders like Jesus Christ, Buddha and Moses.
The monomyth was popularized by the great mythologist Joseph Campbell in his 1949 seminal work: The Hero With A Thousand Faces( a must-read !)
First described in 17 stages by Joseph Campbell, the Hero’s Journey has since been shortened into 12 distinct stages by Hollywood executive Christopher Vogler.
The Ordinary World
The hero’s life prior to leaving for his quest
The Call To Adventure
The event that notifies the hero a major change is coming
Refusal Of The Call
The hero will first attempt to ignore or avoid the call.
Meeting With the Mentor
The hero will satisfy a special mentor that they are able to aid him in his quest.
Crossing The Threshold
Your hero finally moves on from his life and embarks on the quest.
Tests, Allies and Adversaries
The different people who the hero will meet that will either help or prevent him from completing the quest.
Approach To the Innermost Cave
The hero will be on the verge of fighting his enemy.
The fight between the hero and the enemy.
The hero receives a reward for defeating the enemy.
The Road Back
The hero travelings home and fightings( maybe) with lesser enemies.
The hero proves worthy of the reward he has received.
Return With The Elixir
The hero finally reaches home and receives his accolades.
6. Freytag’s Pyramid: Five-Act Structure
A 19 th Century German novelist, Freytag analyzed the stories of ancient Greek storytellers and Shakespeare — and detected a common pattern in their own homes. Writing in Die Technik des Dramas, he developed a diagram eventually known as the Freytag’s Pyramid that helped novelists to coordinate their thoughts and ideas.
This is the beginning of the story where the set, the character’s back stories and so on are introduced to the audience.
* Rising Action*
This is the series of events that creates the set for the climax, and is usually the most important part of the story.
The turning point that changes the fate of the main character. This is the most exciting part of the tale, the moment of greatest tension.
* Falling Action*
The conflict. The protagonist may win or lose in this battle with the antagonist.
Normality is resumed and conflict is resolved.
7. Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle
In his New York Times bestselling book Start With Why, Simon Sinek introduces the idea of the Golden Circle — a formula that great companies like Apple use to inspire people and create a movement.
Circle 1( Innermost ): Why — Why does the company exist ?
Why does the company exist? Why do the founders or the employees get out of bed for every morning? Why should anyone care about the company?
Circle 2: How — How do they do what they do
Also known as the Unique Selling Proposition, this is the differentiating factor given to explain how the company is better than its competitors.
Circle 3: What — What does the company do
What does the company sell? What industry is it in? What does the company do?
8. Dale Carnegie Magic Formula
Dale Carnegie, author of the classic( and still relevant) volume How To Win Friends and Influence people, generated a simple 3-step formula to capture attention, build credibility, eradicate nervousness and call others to action.
Relive a vivid, personal experience relevant to the point. Telling a personal tale helps the audience relate to you as human and sharing similar experiences.
To start off, you can begin by answering this question 😛 TAGEND
What specific incident inspired the purpose surround of your topic?
In order to ensure that the reader or listen takes action, you must clearly lay out the action required. One cannot assume that the listener will immediately and intuitively understand what is required to be done after hearing your story.
Answer this 😛 TAGEND
What specific action do you want your listener/ reader to take?
And give them one clear, specific action to take.
As Robert Greene writes in the 48 Laws of Power 😛 TAGEND
” Always appeal to self-interest .”
Sell the action to them.
Why should they do it? What do they stand to benefit?
Clearly laying it out to them will ensure that the listener takes the action you want them to.
9. Dave Lieber’s V Formula
Dave Lieber is the Dallas Morning News Watchdog columnist as well as a popular( and funny !) keynote speaker. In addition, Dave is also a storytelling expert hired by companies like Ernst& Young, American Heart Association and The US Coast Guard to educate, enlighten and entertain.
In his underrated TED talk, he shares the formula he has been using for his stories.
Introduce the character
Introduce the character, who he/ she is, the backstory and so on.
Bring the tale to its lowest point
People want to hear about failures and how the character turn the failings into a learning lesson or a success. Using feelings, describe how things went downhill for the character.
Turn the story around and finish with a happy aiming
Then, after the narrative has reached its trough, describe how things improved and then end the tale on a happy ending.
Many years ago, Dr. Frank Dignan, a consultant from University of Chicago Press created this formula for writing advertising copy.
Create an attention-getting opening that is positive and upbeat
Create a series of convincing facts, benefits, and reasons that transform the reader’s attention into interest and desire.
Create a powerful and easy-to-respond call-to-action
Here you go 😛 TAGEND
A full list of storytelling formulas you can use to tell a story about your product that motivates your prospects to buy…
Cements your brand…
And inspires a movement.
Apply these storytelling formulas( there’s 8 MORE storytelling formulae here) to every marketing communication you do. Blog posts, advertisings, about pages, YouTube videos etc.
Tell your brand tale now, make it stick and change the world.