Alison Golan, social media strategy expert at Porter Consulting
One of the most common questions I’m asked by people who want to write content for marketing literature is how to do it. They want some kind of formula. The simplest answer I can give is…tell me a story.
People remember stories. They don’t remember marketing fluff. Your prospects will not remember what you write, much less buy your product, if your content isn’t memorable. And the best way to write copy that will be remembered is to tell a story. Rudyard Kipling once said, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
OK, so you want to tell a story about your product and explain how it can help solve a problem. How do you go about doing that? What’s the secret of telling a great story? Below are three tips that will help you become a better story teller.
Tip #1—The Goldilocks rule: keep it just right
Make sure you’re stories aren’t too short or too long. In today’s world filled with people with small, mobile screens and short attention spans, marketers seem to be writing shorter and shorter copy. We are told that content needs to written in bullet points with few words. That sounds logical, but you can’t tell a story with bullet points alone. A few short bullet points may be enough to sell an inexpensive product, but if you are trying to sell something that costs more than just a few dollars, you will need to write more. Before a large purchase, people need information to analyze and compare. Make sure some of the content you provide is detailed enough to answer all of their questions.
On the flip side, make sure your content isn’t too long-winded. When writing content that is memorable, get to the point quickly. If you put in too many details or sound redundant, your prospect will get bored or confused and will probably stop reading.
Your “just right” story starts out by briefly explaining the problem, letting readers know that you understand their challenges. You don’t need to elaborate on all of the details; just hit the high points. After that, transition to why your solution solves the problem. Again, hit the high points, emphasizing the key benefits. Next, add a few details to back up your key points. Wrap up the story by summarizing what you just told the reader.
Tip #2—Lead with the benefits, then back it up with the features
Many people like to lead with the cool features of their product when the most important thing is to start writing about the benefits to customers. For example, I recently interviewed an engineer who was educating me about all of the great new functionality in the software his company was announcing. After listening patiently to all of the features and their functionality, I asked him to summarize three key benefits these features provided to the customers. He couldn’t answer the question and instead talked more about the features. After I gave him hints such as saves money, improves efficiency, streamlines management, he started to understand. We were able to group the new features under three key benefits, which ended up being my three key points.
Take a look below, and select the sentence that would have a greater impact on your prospect?
- “Version 2.0 will automate your processes because we’ve added new features x, y and z.”
- “You’ll save time and money with version 2.0 because we’ve added automation features.”
The first sentence implies that you’ll save time and money due to the automation, but it doesn’t come right out and say it. The second sentence actually states the benefit, which is what you want to do. As you develop copy, come right out and state the benefits up front, that back up what you say with details of the features.
Tip #3—Talk to us with real words; don’t use marketing jargon
Have you ever read some marketing literature and then stopped and said, “What does that mean?” This happens to me all the time. I’m asked to edit copy that someone has written or turn some copy into a blog or success story. As I make my way through the sentences, I have to stop and say, what exactly does that mean? I feel as though I’m translating English to English. Especially in the tech industry where I typically work, this type of writing is everywhere. Check this out:
- “Our innovative solutions are best of breed with fully-integrated, instantly scalable technology that is totally flexible and can be deployed enterprise-wide.”
Hummmmm…what if we reworked this a bit to say the same thing but in words that are more similar to how people actually speak?
- “Our solutions work with your existing technology and can grow to meet the needs of your entire business.”
Try to stay away from writing with marketing jargon and use words that people actually say when speaking with each other.
Pulling it all together
Telling a great story about your product will help people remember you and may persuade them to buy your product. Make sure you let the customer know you understand their problem and can offer a solution. When telling your story, tell it concisely, but give enough detail to back up your key points. Lead with the benefits and include details of the functionality. Write like you would talk—in real words and sentences that are not filled with marketing jargon. By following these tips, you are well on your way to telling a memorable story to prospects and customers.
Do you need some help telling your story? Contact us today at agolan(at)porterconsulting(dot)net.
Alison Golan is a writer, social media consultant, and marketing expert with 20+ years of experience teaching technology companies how to better tell their stories. At Porter Consulting, Alison works with a team of professionals to help companies grow revenue and market share by utilizing the latest marketing and sales methodologies. To read more blogs by Alison, check out Porter Consulting’s blog site at www.porterconsulting.net.