Copywriting: The Difference Between Storytelling and Boring Marketing Descriptions
Many of us employed in the copywriting industry, creating content marketing, claim to be storytellers. Unfortunately, it often seems marketers don’t know how to tell a good story or understand the basics of story structure. At the heart of every story is a conflict. In other words, you need a problem to be solved.
Marketing Tells Stories
Even if you’re writing about a product or service, you can mistakenly believe you’re writing a description rather than a story.
Every product solves a problem for a customer. Therefore, every product description can tell a story. Companies invent solutions to significant problems consumers face. Otherwise, no one will buy what you sell. So don’t forget to tell that story.
Are You Boring your Audience?
As I’ve coached writers, I see this as the central issue newbies struggle with. They forget to structure their content around a problem to be solved. Conflict is at the heart of drawing your readers into a narrative. If what you’re writing is boring, it is likely missing conflict. Most of the time and space in your story should be about the problem. Spend very little time explaining the solution.
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Don’t be boring, the cardinal sin of writing. You will quickly be an unemployed writer if you forget to be interesting. In fact, strive for a more ambitious goal—Be fascinating! This occurs when you tell engaging stories worth telling.
Bring Your Problem in Early
Your problem should be front and center, introduced as early as possible in the text. In story writing terms, this is the inciting incident, the moment where the story begins.
Most writers of movies and books try to start their story with the inciting incident as close to the opening as possible. Sometimes you will see a mini-story as the beginning sequence, introducing a character. This section will contain its own conflict and resolution. Then after the prologue resolves, the main action will start.
Example of Amazing Story Structure
Think about Raiders of the Lost Ark as an excellent example of this. The entire opening sequence tells a short story to introduce Indiana Jones. Then, when Dr. Jones meets with the government men, they inform him the Nazis are looking for the Ark of the Covenant–the story gets going.
It may seem like this is exposition, informing the audience about essential information in case your audience didn’t go to Sunday School. But this scene actually functions as a tremendous inciting incident. The fate of the world hinges on an archeologist finding the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.
Is your Problem Strong Enough?
The story’s central problem must be powerful enough to drive the audience to the very end; otherwise, it will flounder. In online marketing, the length of the content you are writing depends on the strength of the problem and the value offered in the solution.
Writing a Series?
If you’re writing a multi-part piece, you may focus the entire first episode on laying out the problem. If it is that long, your problem should be a life-and-death-level problem (so to speak).
Is your Marketing about Life and Death?
In marketing terms, don’t underestimate the level of drama you are laying out. Capitalism can be cut-throat. Solving customer’s problems, therefore, speaks to our basic survival instincts.
Your product or service must be that important.
Every Sentence Must Motivate Your Story
The goal of every sentence is to convince your audience to read the following sentence. If you’re struggling to make it flow, you may not have enough conflict in your story. Determine the problem and define a specific solution needing elucidation. have you correctly placed these elements in the story? Decide whether you have enough supporting details as well.
Are you staying focused? You may be jumping on tangents that seem relevant but are not essential to the story you’re trying to tell. Don’t be afraid to cut nonessential elements.
Story Is for Everything
Storytelling structure works for everything you might undertake in writing. For example, are you sending an email to a customer? If so, focus on the problem in need of solving. A story should inspire social media posts. Creating a persuasive essay is also a form of storytelling.
Sales Is Interactive Storytelling
Even speaking with a customer in a sales situation is a form of storytelling. In this case, you’re asking questions to discover the story. (it is an interactive narrative created with a client.)
Be Courageous in your Copywriting Storytelling
Being a professional writer is for the bold–it’s for those of us with the courage to spell out the drama of life in concrete terms. Do you have the guts to tell a meaningful story?
If you’re afraid of conflict, you are fearful of being a writer. Don’t shun the fight. Jump in and rumble!