How to write stories so they sell more products

If you’ve been struggling to come up with stories that pop off the page and ultimately generate sales, then chances are you’re simply not using the "correct" types of stories.

What I mean is: stories that help generate sales and revenue are constructed differently than any regular story you might tell in your marketing.

It doesn’t mean they’re harder to come up with – in fact, a good sales story should be easy-peasy to write because, as I’ll show you, good sales stories are simple stories about your life and experiences (or a customer’s experience). You just connect those stories to your product and make a bunch of money in the process.

And because good sales stories are personal, they won’t read in a salesy way and you get to help your audience without feeling like you’re manipulating them.

Best of all, if you get it right, your stories will take complete control of your audience’s attention all the way through to the sale. Regular stories capture attention for a moment, might even help build an audience, but when it comes time for a sales transaction to happen, your audience will look elsewhere. (This happened to me far too often in 2023).

Okay, so let’s dive into this.

How "Stories That Sell" Are Different
When I look back at my email stories that have generated the most sales, they did 4 things differently than the stories that didn’t sell anything.

  1. Stories that sell are about YOU or a CUSTOMER. That’s it.

You see it all the time, especially on social media: a marketer will share a story about a big famous person or someone they have zero connection to. These types of stories in my experience, do not sell nearly as well as writing a story about yourself or a customer/client.

Notice that a client is still connected to you and the product. You can also write a story about a friend, but they must actually be a friend, and again, the story should connect to you or the product somehow.

I’ll give you 3 recent examples from my emails.

When I wrote a content series about "Big Ideas", I shared a story about Claude Hopkins writing a Schlitz beer campaign.

I don’t know Hopkins. I don’t know Schlitz. It was just a famous story about Big Ideas and that sequence of emails didn’t sell anything at all.

These types of stories are for content only, not sales.

On the flip-side, a week ago, I wrote a story about James Clear. I know James, hung out with him, slept in his hotel room. I’m connected to him in some way.

The story ended up being more about how James started out writing a personal diary-type newsletter, honed his topic and built to 2mm+ subscribers.

But that story had a personal connection to me and ended up generating a ton of sales for the Weekend Launch Party.

An example of a customer story would be the CopyHour sales emails from our last launch. I shared success stories the entire week, detailing customer’s transformation stories after using CopyHour.

Take-away #1: If you want your stories to have a better chance of SELLING…. make sure the story involves you or your customers.

  1. Stories that sell have a clear connection to the Big Idea (main sexy benefit) of your product.

The best way to describe what I mean by this second point is to show you an email that got it wrong and didn’t sell anything.

Last year I told a story about how my wife and I ordered a new front door for our house and it took 7 months to show up. By the time it arrived, the front door was worth $1k more than we paid for it because of scarcity and supply & demand.

That story would have been fine on it’s own if I was trying to teach about scarcity. But I was trying to sell a course called Health CopyHour.

The Big Idea (main sexy benefit) behind Health CopyHour has nothing to do with scarcity. It’s all about making money in a market (health) that’s only getting bigger every year.

I shared an unrelated story lesson that had no real connection to the product and hence, it generated no sales.

(You’ll also notice that the email tries to do way too much which is explained in point 4).

Take-away #2: If you want your stories to have a better chance of SELLING…. make sure there’s a clear connection to one of the main benefits of the product (the closer it is to the Big Idea, the better).

  1. Stories that sell are connected to the current stage of the promotion.

    Useful sales stories can also be used to tie into the current stage of a promotion. If you’re at the end of a launch, you could tell a story about a time you missed out on something (scarcity).

    In the example above, scarcity wasn’t even part of the current promotion. Meaning, the email wasn’t even sent towards the end of a launch when scarcity would be a useful tactic to employ.

    Here’s a good example of a simple story that sold extremely well at the end of a promotion justifying the price:

Take-away #3: If you want your stories to have a better chance of SELLING…. make sure the story matches the sales sequence.

  1. Stories that sell only try to accomplish one thing.

Your product might give your customer a ton of different benefits. But your stories (if you want them to sell) should only focus on one benefit (preferably related to the Big Idea of the product). Or, only cover one call to action topic (like scarcity or the price justification example above).

The more you try to squeeze in, the harder the story is to write. If that’s not enough to deter you, then know that if you try to stuff in extra benefits or ideas your main point gets diminished. Your story becomes less memorable. And you make less sales because of it.

Take-away #4: If you want your stories to have a better chance of SELLING…. make sure they only speak about one main benefit or one main call to action topic.

Now, notice some of the things I left out of this discussion that you would normally expect to find… namely drama.

Everyone thinks you have to have huge, high drama to write stories that sell. I’m here to tell you that’s just straight up not true.

In my experience, all you need to do is follow the rules above and your story can be boring as hell (but it will still stick in people’s mind and get them to buy):

  1. The story is about you or a customer.
  2. The story easily connects to main benefit (Big Idea) of your product.
  3. Or the story easily fits properly into the sales sequence.
  4. The story only tries to accomplish one thing: connect to big idea of the product or connect to one part of the sales sequence.

In tomorrow’s email I’ll give you the exact frameworks for these types of sales stories so you can try it for yourself.

To get started now, first write down what your Big Idea (sexiest benefit) is for your product. Then try to think of a time when you or a customer weren’t getting that benefit. How did you move towards it? There’s a story.

You can also think of it in reverse or as an anti-example: what’s a time when you went counter to your Big Idea?

For example, the Big Idea for a subscription olive oil club (Fresh-Pressed Olive Club) is: "Fresh olive oil is rare but tastes better."

What’s an example of time when you ate something that wasn’t fresh? That’s a story that you could tie to the product and I guarantee it would make sales.

If you’re having trouble coming up with any stories at all, you probably need to get a clearer picture of what exactly your Big Idea is.

Again, tomorrow this will all come together when I give you more example stories and the frameworks behind them.

Talk to you then!

– Derek