Human beings navigate the world through stories. That is how we make sense of all the information that our bodies pick up. We can look at things, we can smell things, we can touch things, we can hear things -we can detect all sorts of things. However, our mind is quite selective as to which of these things impact how we feel, think, and act. In fact, we are so good at filtering out external stimuli that we are only conscious of a fraction of the things our bodies detect. Of all the things that we allow ourselves to be conscious of, we choose to remember only a fraction of those. What gives? Amazingly simple -we think in terms of stories.
We have this existing story in our mind of who we are, our place in the world, and how we choose to look at the world. Stories enable us to have an identity. They enable us to explain ourselves, not just to other people, but to ourselves as well. If you were to just process information on a random and wholesale basis, you would go crazy. You would have to have a system for storing that information and making sense of that information. New information must fit the overriding story we have of ourselves. Stories act as emotional gateways to new information. Therefore, they are crucial to online marketing. It does not matter whether you are marketing through banner ads, articles or other types of content, a squeeze page or a series of pages that lead to a squeeze page-you must tell a story.
What Does Storytelling Have to Do with Making Money Off a Mailing List?
You must master the art of storytelling for you to effectively communicate your value proposition. If you want people to join your mailing list, they must have a clear idea as to what you are offering. They also must clearly see the need for them to join your mailing list. At the very least, they need to understand these two pieces of information for them to get what you are offering. These involve a lot of data points. These involve a lot of pieces of information. You can just tell people to sign up for your mailing list, but you probably will not go extremely far.
Even if you use fancy fonts or great pictures, chances are your likelihood of success would be mediocre. Why? You might be setting the wrong expectations. You might be sending a confusing message and end up attracting list members who have no intention of buying from you. If you want to attract highly qualified prospects, you need to use stories. Do not get me wrong, considerably basic, and straightforward squeeze pages can get people to sign up. The problem is, once they have signed up, how do you get them to convert?
Conversion is King
At the end of the day, it is all about conversion. It does not really make much sense to get one thousand people to sign up for your mailing list, when only one of them ends up converting. It is much better to get one hundred people to sign up for your mailing list and at the end of the day you have fifty of them convert to your offer. I hope you can see the simple mathematics here. Story-telling is a very powerful component of a competent mailing list strategy because it helps you filter your prospects. It helps you attract the right prospects. Most importantly, it helps you set the tone of the relationship.
Good Email Lists are Built on Relationships
Getting people to sign up to your mailing list is the beginning of a relationship. When somebody signs up to your mailing list, they are telling you to keep sending them information. Put simply, they are telling you to keep talking to them. They want to have a relationship with your brand. Using effective storytelling can ensure that you are getting into the right kind of relationship. If you use the typical squeeze page design, you will not have a problem signing up people, but these may be the wrong people.
These might be people who are expecting a different kind of relationship. Regardless of how it plays out, at the end of the day, you probably will not make much money. Weaving in effective story-telling elements increases your likelihood of making money off your list. It is crucial for you to understand how stories work and incorporate as much of storytelling’s power of persuasion into your squeeze page as well as the pages that precede your squeeze page. Stories also help boost the effectiveness of information pages.
Human Beings Make Sense of the World through Stories
I have said this already above, but I cannot emphasize this enough: human beings make sense of the world through stories. You may not be aware of it. You might even think this is some crazy talk, but it is true. You have a story. You look at the world as a story. In fact, it happens automatically that you are not aware of it.
Think of it this way. To prove my point, try to think in such a way that there is no beginning, middle, or end. Take chronology out of your memory. Give up? Of course, you will. If not, you are going crazy.
Time and memory are interlinked. They define each other, and this is important because it is at the core of stories. Stories help you make sense of the world because it reduces the world into a sequence of relationships. Moreover, just as time is related to memory, time also help us make sense of the relationships between concepts. There are also relationships between how you perceive yourself and how you perceive the world and your place in the world.
Great stories help you connect the dots
A great story resonates with you on a deep personal level. A lot of emotion is involved in this. This is precisely why effective stories drive people to do things. They see themselves in the story. They see their personal narratives at play. They become open and susceptible to being influenced by what would otherwise be a ‘foreign’ idea. People subconsciously connect the dots between the idea presented to them which trigger emotional hot buttons and their own existing needs and desires.
A great example of this process is a typical Calvin Klein or Guess ad. You look at a billboard and there is a Calvin Klein, Guess, or Ralph Lauren ad. It may just seem like a picture, but that picture is selling a story. That story, subconsciously, is selling a lifestyle. You want to be wearing these clothes because they convey a certain lifestyle, a certain enjoyment of life, or a certain attitude.
They all flow into each other, but you only have a picture in front of you. It is that powerful. You read in your hopes and dreams into the picture. Can you imagine how powerful your ads or marketing content would be if your materials told a story which tapped into the minds and emotions of your readers? Can you imagine how amazing your conversion rates would be if all the pages that led to your squeeze page told compelling stories that pushed the readers further and further down the process of signing up to your list?
Stories are crucial, because they enable us to get people to do what we want them to do. Stories are great ways of channeling the power of emotions, so that they lead to where you want them to lead. Normally, you want your messages to lead to people sending you money -by buying your stuff, entering their emails in your CPA forms, or referring your website to their friends on Facebook. Regardless of the specific action, stories play a central role because of their emotional impact.
People Are More Emotional than Rational
The funny thing about human action is that most of the time, we act on impulse. Most of the time, we read something, hear something, or see something that triggers an emotional response. This then triggers a physical action. After we have done the action, we then try to make sense of what just happened. We then begin to mentally backtrack and rationalize what we did. In other words, we try to convince ourselves that our otherwise impulsive action was the product of rational deliberation and was purposeful. We tell these stories to ourselves. We tell these stories to other people.
The truth is people are more emotional than rational. This is great news if you are a marketer. This means your job is much easier than you realize. If people are rational, chances are they would be buying less stuff. At the very least, chances are they would not be buying your stuff. They would be buying from someone else. Thank goodness, your prospective customers are emotional and impulsive.
This is fantastic news. However, this also means that you need to be a better storyteller.
One of the most powerful ways to get people to act on emotional impulse is to tell an engaging story. A well-crafted story gets prospects to buy into the dream you are offering. Stories enable your prospects to step into that picture of the lifestyle your product represents. Best of all, the right story makes your prospects want that lifestyle. Isn’t this a better way to promote than simply listing out benefits and asking your prospects to ‘enter your email now’?
Effective Stories Pack Concise Meaning and Actions
It is too easy to think that all you need to do is tell a story and your marketing job is done. Wrong! You must tell a story in such a way that it is short, meaningful, and leads to action quickly. This is what separates writing sales copy from a novel or short story. You need effective sales copy writing skills to boost the effectiveness of a series of pages that lead to a squeeze page. Novel writing and copywriting are two totally different things. With commercial writing, you need to use stories that pack concise meaning, and is unambiguous regarding the action the reader should take.
Be Aware of the Stories You Are Unconsciously Telling
Just as you can tell conscious stories, you can also be telling subconscious or unconscious stories. It is important to be aware of the stories you are telling, on all different levels. Obviously, the easiest stories to track are the stories that you are aware of and intentionally try to get out. This is your conscious storytelling. However, there is also unconscious storytelling. Usually, you figure this out by looking at the things you are leaving out.
When you are saying something, there are obviously things you are not saying things that you are dancing around, things that you are restating, things that you are using euphemisms for. Be truly clear as to what these are. This is important to know because your audience members are never as stupid as you assume. They can read between the lines. They can also fill in the blanks you may have subconsciously left out.
If you play fast and loose with the truth, or you tell inconsistent stories, then you are unconsciously telling another kind of story. It is not going to be a very flattering story. Be aware of the stories that you are unconsciously telling about your brand. You might not be currently making as much money as you had hoped because of the unconscious stories that you have been telling your audience. Be aware of these. Fix them so they fit your conscious stories.