Facts are not enough

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I had an amazing opportunity earlier this week. I was invited to pitch a book idea, in person, to an Executive Acquisitions Editor of a major publisher.

That doesn’t happen every day!

So, as you can imagine, I worked hard preparing my two-minute pitch. As I wrote the script, I found myself boasting about how original and wonderful my book idea was, and incorporating facts about the size of the target market, my ability to reach that audience, competing books, and so forth. All essential ingredients of a book proposal.

Then I recorded the pitch and played it back to myself, imagining I was the editor listening to it for the first time.

I came across as… b-o-r-i-n-g. (I actually yawned.)

What was missing?

It took me a few minutes to realize my mistake. What I failed to do in my pitch was utilize the power of stories.

As you’ve probably heard before: Facts tell, stories sell.

In my pitch, I was hitting the editor with a barrage of description and data. But I wasn’t doing anything to turn on the movie projector in his head so he could “see” what I was saying.

That’s a mistake many professionals make on their websites and in their pitches, presentations, and other promotional materials. As important as a compelling description of a feature or benefit is – and the facts, statistics, and other proofs that support it – it can be all for naught if you don’t bring that information to life through a story.

Now, by story, I don’t necessary mean a traditional story featuring a person doing or experiencing something interesting. A story can simply be a quick example or scenario.

Here’s an example of what you might say on your website, if you were a business succession planning consultant.

Our family business succession program helps ensure there are no lasting family disputes.

Now here is that same example, but with an added touch of storytelling.

Imagine a retirement where squabbles among family members cause your business to gradually go downhill – the legacy you worked so hard to build disappearing before your eyes. Our family business succession program helps ensure that never happens.

As you can see, simply by helping the prospect visualize the benefit – in this case, with a scenario of what might happen – the copy becomes more relevant, interesting and impactful.

So the next time you’re writing a pitch, a proposal, or marketing copy, incorporate a story (or two or three.) It will make your piece much more effective.

PS: As many of you know, I have a second website called ForCopywritersOnly.com. I recently updated it and changed its name to CopywritingTrainingCenter.com. On the site, I’m offering two free workbooks for copywriters: The CLINCHER Copywriting Formula and How to Find Copywriting Clients. If you’re a copywriter (who likes free workbooks), visit the site and check it out!

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