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The Power of Persuasion Stories

Published by: David Garfinkel on 08-14-2023

Let’s talk story. Experienced copywriters know that a story is the best way to introduce a product, bring a benefit to life, answer objections, and do a whole lot more.


Because stories galvanize the attention of your prospect. A story reaches deeper into the mind of someone, deeper than any other form of communication.

But somewhere along the way, Hollywood got in the way, as it has a habit of doing. Because the hero’s journey is the go-to template for movies and other forms of fiction, a number of people started solemnly proclaiming that all stories in copy should be hero’s journeys, only hero’s journeys, and nothing but hero’s journeys, so help you Hollywood.

Well… there’s only one problem with that idea.

It’s simply not true.

I’ve just written a book, just about to be released, called “The Persuasion Story Code,” where I identify and explain 25 different types of stories that work not only in copy but in all forms of persuasion, including face-to-face selling.

On today’s show, I went into a lot of depth about the kind of stories we cover in the book. Here what I said about one, to give you some context:

Persuasion stories are not entertainment. They’re stories that get results.

Here’s an example of a persuasion story that got a result:

A man walks up to the counter at the gate, 10 minutes before takeoff. The flight is full and everyone before him has been screaming a blue streak at the flight attendant staffing the desk.
“No,” she says to the man before he can say a word.
“I think I know what you’re going through,” the man says to her with a grimace. “I manage a store downtown, and the last three days before Christmas, our customers are just like the people here. Rude, impatient, and they won’t listen to reason. Sometimes you wonder why you took a job like this in the first place.”
The flight attendant looks at him for a few seconds. The hint of a smile dances at the ends of her mouth.
“May I see your ID?” she says.
He hands it to her. She types into the computer, prints out a boarding pass, and gives it to him along with his ID.
Then she says to him, almost in a whisper,
“We had a cancellation in first class. I’m upgrading you. Get on the plane NOW.”
OK, so what did the man do?

Either very deliberately or more likely, simply out of compassion, the man told the woman a story—about what goes on in his store before Christmas, and how he understood what she must be going through—and, after she heard it, she changed her mind.
What he told her, whether or not he realized it, was a persuasion story. And, probably to his great surprise, he got a seat on what he thought was a fully-booked plane.
Now, people tell stories like the man did all the time. Most of the time, people telling the story don’t even realize it’s a story. And neither do the people hearing the story.

This is what I call a persuasion story. They make up the engine of persuasion in sales letters, and also in everyday life.

I’ve identified 25 kinds of these stories, and I’ve written a book about them called “The Persuasion Story Code,” organized into six chapters.

Here’s a short summary of what we cover:

• Origin Stories, which build confidence by showing how a person’s or company’s background makes them solid and worth doing business with

• Stories About Your Prospect’s Pain, which build trust by showing you understand the dilemma your prospect is in, thus creating valuable empathy

• Stories That Predict The Future, painting a compelling word-picture of how much better your prospect’s future can be

• Reassurance Stories are probably THE most effective way to deal with early doubts and worries that come up—especially when a prospect is really interested

• Stories That Explain walk the fine line between interesting but neutral explanations and persuasion that puts up prospect defenses. These stories persuade while explaining!

• Stories That Build Trust organize credentials, reviews, expert endorsements and case histories into powerful persuasion tools that eliminate last-minute doubts

This will change your copy and really all your sales efforts for the better. Here’s a link to get your copy of the book.

You can get your copy here:

Keywords: persuasion stories copywriting

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