- By Cathy Goodwin
- Published 08/25/2009
- Writing for the Web
Online marketing begins with website content. Yet creating website content that is compelling can be a challenge, even for experienced copywriters. Independent professionals and solo-preneurs who want to get more clients online can take a tip from the pros: add stories to your website, blog and articles. Stories can either encourage website visitors to see themselves in your website or they can motivate prospects to understand your own unique brand of expertise. Telling a story can be surprisingly straightforward. Many website marketing successes can be attributed to the marketer’s ability to develop a narrative that illustrates a key point. Stories are powerful because you are presenting evidence, not opinion. You follow the classic rule of writing: “Show, don’t tell.” Instead of saying, “I got amazing results,” you demonstrate what real people achieved with your help. Here are 3 kinds of stories you can use on your own website: == Stories about yourself – Here is your opportunity to show how you overcame obstacles and struggles to reach your current status. These stories give readers a chance to see you as a fully three-dimensional person. They also suggest that you learned unique lessons along the way so you become a more credible source of wisdom. However, your personal story has to be focused on a topic that will support and even enhance your marketing efforts. Often service business owners will want to share a story of personal triumph that gets prospects to say, “Wow!” But the topic and “plot” of the story have to resonate with your audience so they are motivated to say “yes” to your offers.
== Stories about your clients – These stories tend to show how you helped y
our clients achieve results. These stories can be especially powerful because your prospects think, “If he can help someone achieve those results, I bet he can help me, too.” Your challenge is to show how you created a demonstrable change in your client’s life, health, or financial success. Most marketers get focused on process but have trouble connecting process with outcomes. As a result, your audience probably asks, “Why bother?” On the other hand, you can’t focus entirely on results. Prospects don’t expect you to wave a magic wand. They want to believe you have a step-by-step program that delivers reliable, repeatable results. Stories about clients can be as powerful as testimonials. You don’t have to use real names (as you do with testimonials). Your audience will be able to sense whether you are being authentic or just inventing stories. == Stories that illustrate principles or concepts. These stories are the most difficult to tell yet they can leave a lasting impression on your audience. The right story can motivate readers and listeners to express an interest in working with you. These stories operate like metaphors. For instance: “Suppose you were back in high school. You always wanted to date one of the really good-looking members of your group. You never even got a chance to talk to them. Then one day, you got a chance to spend time with one of the best looking people you had always wanted to meet. You got together at the snack bar with soft drinks. And he (or she) didn’t talk. Not a word. When you asked a question, your potential date just mumbled. Would you still be interested?
Believe it or not, this story relates to website marketing. You can use this story as an analogy of a beautiful website, with all the bells and whistles, but with no meaningful copy or content that engages the reader.