I love good storytelling, especially stories that draw you in and inspire you. I don’t consider myself a foodie, but whenever I hear passionate farmers or food producers talk about their products it makes me want to buy it and taste it. I always find myself salivating when watching those food TV shows like Jamie Oliver or Two Greedy Italians when they feature stories about producers from around the world.
So does the same apply to other products or work sold online? Can potential customers be inspired to want to purchase by good storytelling? You bet.
A fantastic image, an awesome story, and a great product description can sell itself are essential to a strong brand. The stronger the emotional bond the person feels for your product, the more likely they are to visualize themselves using it, the greater the chance they are to going to buy it. A shopper instinctively visualizes using and enjoying your product.
Can good storytelling sell itself?
Good storytelling beats good selling because business today is all about passion. Storytelling is how you share your passion.
The two most important places where good storytelling counts
- On your website
- In your product description
On your website, the key places for you to tell your story are on the Home page or landing page and the About page.
Different ways to tell your story
The popular personal story
This is the step by step story of how you triumphed over adversity, solved your problem and achieved the result your reader wants. It’s fairly easy to write, you just need to tell your story.
Here are a couple of good examples of how people tell their engaging stories on their website about page.
Jessica Sepel, is a nutritionist with a successful online health and wellness business. Jessica tells how she overcame her struggle with her own body image and the path she’s taken to good nutrition and positive lifestyle changes. She has had huge success with her first detox plan and is about to release her first book.
Carrie Smith is a go-getting solopreneur. Carries introduces herself and her story on her home and about page of carefulcents.com. Carrie explains how she paid off her debt and started her own business, and is now passionate about helping other entrepreneurs to discover their financial freedom.
Erica Biz, sold her online business at the age of 26 for $1 million and now blogs to help others grow their own business quickly.
You’ll notice these example all tell the story behind the person and set the context for their products or services. If you’re like me and you’re half way there to buying the product after reading these.
Many people use the long form of storytelling as a way to sell their product (as typified by Clickbank ads). If you want to know how well the long form can work and improve business, read my favourite case study on SEOMoz by Conversion Rate Experts.
This next one is the king of the long form storytelling and done really, really well. It’s from Noah Kagan via AppSumo. Read the step by step story of how Noah made $3,500 in profit in less than 72 hours. You’re sold right. I was.
The passing on of expertise story
This is similar to the personal story, but includes how you talked to a respected mentor or expert who showed you how to solve your problem.
Tom Morkes does this really well with his ebook of notes based on spending two days with Seth Godin. Tom shares everything he learned from one of the world’s leading teacher of marketing, entrepreneurship, and general disruptive thinking.
This example, Jaime from Eventual Millionaire combines a personal story and a passing on expertise story as it involves multiple millionaires that Jamie interviews for her podcast and has made into an Amazon best selling book. Alternatively, podcasts are an awesome way to sell your story, listen to Jaime tell her own fascinating story on UnmistakeableCreative with Srini Rao.
The vision story
I think great masters of this include Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. As Pat says didn’t win the lottery but has a winning lifestyle and runs a successful online business.
Another master is the ‘Indiana Jones for the digital age’, Tim Ferriss, of the famed The 4 – Hour Workweek. Tim has been listed as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People”, Forbes Magazine’s “Names You Need to Know,” and selected by Mashable as one of “5 Must-Follow Twitter Accounts for Entrepreneurs”. He is an angel investor/advisor (Facebook, StumbleUpon, Evernote, Uber, and 20+ more businesses)
Who doesn’t buy into the ultimate dream of having an independent living and of working smarter not harder? (you can read our review of his 4 – Hour Workweek book ).
The historical story
Hiut Denim, is a company based in the UK making jeans. My colleague Melissa put me on to them. They do a brilliant job of storytelling, and give the impression that they have been established forever. See what you think
Another favourite of mine, is from Sydney, Australia and is for an artisan bakery called Sonoma. Read their story and you can almost smell the fresh baked bread. Absolutely delicious.
The final example is from Melissa Cassera who coaches entrepreneurs and small businesses on how to get more press + sales. Melissa’s customers are entrepreneurs who are looking for a way to boost sales and to get more PR coverage – yeah I know, find me an entrepreneur that doesn’t want that!
I like Melissa’s approach and her online course stands out as
not often you’ll see a claim like this for an online PR course.
I can teach you how to create an offer so hot + enticing, it’ll make Johnny Depp look like a sack of potatoes.
The website’s done its job of storytelling. You’re sold on the solution and go onto the product page. What does a good product description look like when you’re restricted by the number of characters. Here is a good example of a good product description that has all the essential elements from Melissa Cassera.
Think of your product description as
storytelling inclusive of the key elements describing the product.
Ernest Hemingway wrote one of the best shortest
story product description:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
Key elements of a compelling product description
- Who – who is this product for? Is it for a web designer, a freelancer working from home, a new blogger, etc.
- Why – why do I the customer need it and how is it better
- What – what are the basic features or details that you’ll get
- Where and How – where and how do I use it
- When – when should someone use the your product or how long can they expect to use it for
Now review your website to see if you’re doing justice to your story. The best stories tap into the reader’s imagination and takes them along on a journey.
If your site doesn’t, set aside a few hours and give yourself the goal to tell your story and don’t be afraid to be a little creative. After all storytelling is an effective way to sell online and to take your sales to the next level.
If you know of any other examples of good storytelling, share them with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear them.