When writing about a product, service or idea, most people, including professional junior writers, start with the features and benefits. That’s great if the copy is for an online product catalog, web listing or sales brochure.
If you are trying to engage an audience to get them to buy the product, service or idea, however, you have to make an emotional connection. The most effective way to make that connection is with a compelling story.
Telling an engaging story is part skill, part talent and unless you do it on a regular basis, very time consuming. The topic can also be very complex and challenging to translate into a story. That’s why hiring professional storytellers (aka writers) is well worth the investment, but on those occasions when you must go it alone, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Know Thy Audience
Before you can engage them, you need to clearly understand who your audiences are and you need to see the world through their eyes. What makes them happy, sad, frustrated, relaxed, or stressed? What motivates them? What are their values? It’s all about them. Unless you have market research on your audience, you will need to invest the time to objectively gather this information – or better yet, hire an experienced firm you trust to gather and report on the data.
Thou Must Have a Plot Line
Like your English teacher taught you, every story needs a plot that includes:
- Charters and Setting. This is where you must get your audience’s attention, so the characters and setting must be engaging, relatable or believable.
- Conflict. Without conflict or a problem to solve, there is no story. The trick is, that it must be relatable to your audience or it could come off as trite or contrived and you will lose your audience and your credibility.
- Resolution. How the problem is solved.
Thou Shall Leave Comedy to the Professionals
Writing comedy is a funny thing. What some find hysterical offends others. When it comes off well, it will be memorable and could go viral. When it flops, you lose all credibility and will likely not have another opportunity to sell your product, service or idea. I’ve seen a humor approach fail more often than not, particularly in videos. Best to leave it to the professionals.
Thou Shall Keep It Short
Readers skim and viewers and listeners will give you less than 30 seconds to get their attention. If you have a compelling story, you may be able to hold their attention for couple minutes. Anything longer needs to be produced by experienced professionals, but even they must keep it a brief as possible.