The most powerful “story that sells” framework

Most marketers and copywriters will tell you that you HAVE to use stories in your copy. Yet, no one has probably explained to you that there are 2 very different types of stories:

  1. Stories that help make a sale.
  2. Stories that only entertain.

    If you’ve struggled to come up with stories for your copy, it’s likely because you haven’t learned the 4 rules of sales stories (explained yesterday) or you’re trying to mix sales stories & pure entertainment stories (this is what caused me problems in 2023).

    Today I’m going to show you a "transformation story framework" because transformation stories are the most powerful sales story you can tell. They will produce more sales, and more good will, than any other type of story.

Why? Your potential customers are desperate for a transformation out of their current predicament. If they’re not, they’re not ready to buy anything.

Customers that are ready to buy want to be taken by the hand and shown how your product will transform them into someone new – someone who achieves the Big Idea (sexiest benefit) of your promotion.

Transformation stories bring your Big Idea to life and when a customer is able to fully "see" that the Big Idea of your product is within reach, they’ll gladly pay for it. A sale of your product is like a giant release of pent-up tension for customers when you tell stories in this way.

Before I go on, I’ll say that these transformation stories should be very natural and easy to write, especially with time and as you internalize them.

You don’t have to write beautiful prose or come up with wild ideas for transformation stories. You just need to hit on these three sections:

  1. Before: Start with a relatable problem for your market.
  2. Transformation: What triggered a change (your product).
  3. After: The results of achieving the Big Idea.

    Now, let’s make this super clear by breaking down an example transformation story I wrote for the last CopyHour launch.

(Remember that the Big Idea for CopyHour is: "Hard-wire six and seven figure copy into your brain".)

0. Setup

The setup is an optional section you can add before your story begins – and it’s especially useful in email marketing during a product launch sequence.

Key Elements:

  • Market
  • Product
  • Character
  • Big Idea


If you’re thinking of using CopyHour (Product) to learn copywriting as a business owner or entrepreneur (Market)… listen to this quick story about how Sarah Mueller (Character) built a 7-figure business (Big Idea) in the decluttering niche.

**1. Before

The Before section is where you drop your readers directly into the setting, introduce the characters, and explain the tension (The tension is the problem that is trying to be solved).

This problem should be relatable if not exactly what the market (person) you’re going after is experiencing. Your character should be experiencing life before they’ve discovered your transformative product and before they’ve achieved the results of realizing your Big Idea.

a. Tension:**
Key Elements:

  • Time
  • Character
  • Problem/Tension


A few years ago (Time), Sarah (Character) was considering quitting her blog (Problem/Tension).
**b. Problem

Key Elements:**

  • Back story
  • Problem
  • Breaking Point


She’d started a mom’s general interest website named "Early Bird Mom" (Backstory) and things weren’t going as well as she’d hoped. (Problem)

In fact, she was almost convinced it was time to pursue a different career path in consulting. (Breaking point)
c. Agitate:

Key Elements:

  • Expanded problem


And that was no light decision.
At the time, she was a mom of 4 and going through a divorce (these are all things she’d tell you herself, so I’m not gossiping when I write that).
A new career, especially one that would demand a lot of time and energy, wasn’t exactly something she was eager to begin. (Expanded Problem)
2. Transformation
The transformation section should cover how the character discovered your product, and how the product provided the necessary spark to transform out of the problem.

You should also include any doubts they might have about fully committing to the product. Success should come against all odds so that the reader says, "If that character could do it in those circumstances, I can definitely do it too."

Key Elements:

  • "But then…"
  • Relatable discovery
  • Committed to Product against all odds


*But then everything changed.* ("But then…")
She decided to take a stab at learning more about copywriting. And she ultimately found CopyHour through a recommendation in the Copy Chief forum when she asked,
"What’s the best way to learn copywriting?" (Relatable discovery of the solution & product)
She dove into the CopyHour materials and fully committed herself to learning and handwriting each day, even though her time was at a premium. (Committed to product against all odds)
3. After

The final After section should paint a vivid picture of what life is like for the character because they’ve used the product and what kind of results they’re seeing from achieving the Big Idea of the product.

The final sentence or paragraph of your story should re-state the point that the Character is transformed and has achieved the Big Idea.

a. Results:**

Key elements:

  • Product inspired X
  • Saved from Problem
  • Got Market’s Desired Results


Ultimately, she decided to keep the blog going and CopyHour inspired her to finish an ebook idea she’d had. (Product inspired X)
The ebook was her first product in the decluttering space — a topic her audience was clamoring for.
That ebook, and the copy she wrote for the sales page to sell it, turned out to be a lifeline. (Saved from Problem)
Quickly thereafter, Sarah not only survived that rocky period of her business and personal life…her business began to thrive beyond her wildest dreams. (Got Market’s Desired Results)

She rebranded her website to Decluttering Club and most importantly, she "figured out" how to profitably run Facebook ads to the sales page for her $27 ebook.
b. Big Idea Achieved:

Key element:

  • Character achieving Big Idea


Fast-forward to today and during her (Character) busiest months of business, she profitably spends $8k/day on Facebook ads. Her business pulls in north of 7-figures in revenue each year (and it might even be 8-figures at this point). (Big Idea)

Here’s the full outline of a transformation story that will sell:

  1. (Optional) Setup
  2. Before
    a. Tension
    b. Problem
    c. Agitate
  3. Transformation
  4. After
    a. Results
    b. Big Idea Achieved

You might look at the above story and say, "How did he find this story? How can I find stories like this?"

Well, tomorrow I’ll show you exactly what I did to find this story – it was not hard and I’m guessing you or your clients have dozens of stories like this laying around that you’re not even aware of.

This will also answer the biggest question I got about stories from the survey I sent: "How do I find ideas that can be turned into a sales story?"

I’ll clear everything up tomorrow.

Talk to you then!

– Derek