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Episode 005 - Stories That Demonstrate

Published by: David Garfinkel on 05-22-2017

Ask any experienced, successful salesperson what the single best form of selling is, and you’ll nearly always get back the same answer: “Demonstration.”

That’s why savvy car dealers let customers take a new car home for the weekend before they actually buy the car. It’s the same reason Internet marketers offer a $1 trial for the first month, on products or services that are billed for far more than that every month. They know that when people get to try what they’re selling, a lot more of those people will buy it.

That’s why pet stores let people take a puppy they’re interested in, home for the weekend. In sales, there’s even a term for this kind of hands-on (paw’s on?) demonstration – “the puppy dog close.”

Oddly enough, you can get your prospect to demonstrate your products for themselves without ever letting the touch the product! How? By telling them what I call “demonstration” stories. Prospects get to try out your product in their imaginations.

How to create and use stories is known by some of the best marketers and salespeople—but virtually unknown by everyone else. If you don’t know what they are, we’ll turn that around now.

Now for my friendly reminder:

Copy is powerful. That’s why I’m going to give you some really powerful new strategies today. And then, you’re responsible for how you use what you hear on this podcast. Now, most of the time, common sense is all you need. But if you make extreme claims… and/or if you’re writing copy for offers in highly regulated industries like health, finance, and business opportunity… you may want to get a legal review after you write and before you start using your copy. My larger clients do this all the time.

OK, back to demonstration stories, and other tiny little stories that really pack a wallop! And by that I mean, for the small number of words in these stories, you’ll get a disproportionate payoff.

How? In advancing the sale in your copy. In getting your customers to want to learn about and then buy what you are selling, more than they did before they heard the tiny little story.

• How to get your prospect to imagine experiencing the benefit of your product, without ever having the product yet

So the great artist Pablo Picasso said: “Everything you can imagine is real.”

Easy for him to say. When he died in 1973, he had an estimated net worth of $500 million – which would be $2.8 billion today. And on June 21, 2016, his 1909 painting “Femme Assise,” which means “Woman Sitting Down,” sold at an auction in London for $63 million and change.

I’m not bringing up all these numbers to make the point that he was a great artist.

I’m just saying, when someone can dream up images, put them on canvas, and sell them for big bucks, it’s easy for him to say, “Everything you can imagine is real.”

But Picasso was right. In this way. If you imagine doing something or seeing something or hearing something vividly enough, your mind really cannot tell the difference between what you imagined and what actually happened (or never happened). It seems that real.

This is important with the kind of stories we’re going to talk about today.

Because these stories are designed to get your prospect imagining enjoying one or more of the benefits of what you are selling. In such a vivid way that they actually feel like they experienced it.

Then, when they realize they don’t really have what they just imagined having, they will want it all the more!

We’ll come back to that point and explore it in depth in a few minutes. For right now, let’s look at some very short stories that get the customer imagining benefits.

These are from a full-page ad in the National Enquirer that’s been running for at least a year and a half. The ad is for a product called “Jitterbug,” and it’s a cell phone designed especially for seniors who do not want complicated, sophisticated smart phones like an iPhone or an Android phone.

Each one of these paragraphs appears in the ad, and each one of them, by itself, is a story that gets the prospect to not only experience the benefit of the Jitterbug.

They also tell a wonderful mini before-and-after story – contrasting the storyteller’s frustration with the old, difficult phone to the delights and ease of the new, easy Jitterbug phone.

FIRST ONE: In quotes – “Cell phones have gotten so small, I can barely dial mine.” Close quotes. That first sentence was from a person like the prospect, talking to the prospect, and it’s in quotes. The next three sentences are from the company that makes Jitterbug. All part of the same paragraph:

Not the Jitterbug Flip. It features a large keypad for easy dialing. It even has a larger display and a powerful, hearing aid-compatible speaker, so it’s easy to see and conversations are clear.

That’s it. WOW! Incredible story there. I had this problem – so small, I could barely dial it. Jitterbug offers this solution: large keypad, large display, powerful speaker that works with hearing aids.

Covered the waterfront in four sentences…

Another one:

SECOND ONE: Quote “I had to get my son to program it.” Unquote. The copy from the company follows: Your Jitterbug Flip set-up process is simple. We’ll even program it with your favorite numbers.

THIRD ONE: Quote “What if I don’t remember a number?” Close quote. Friendly, helpful Personal Operators are available 24 hours a day and will even greet you by name when you call.

In all – there are six short paragraphs like that. It’s 90% of the full page ad.


- Objection (that most prospects have about current phones)

- Description (of how Jitterbug is different, better)

- Gives prospect experience in imagination of new phone

- Complete story:

-- it was like this before

-- it’s like this now

-- this is much better than it was

Completely different from hero’s journey.

Here’s another one. By A-List copywriter Richard Armstrong. This was a control for Kiplinger’s personal finance for over a decade. This little story on a one-page letter:
Dear Friend,

My aunt Jane is rich as sin. And nobody in my family can figure out why.

She worked as a librarian her whole life. Her husband, who passed away a few years back, was a tool-and-die maker. They never earned much money in their lives. But boy, were they ever smart with what they had.

There was a little vacation home that they picked up for a song and wound up selling for $250,000. Some well-chosen stocks that grew in value over the years. Mutual funds. Municipal bonds. Treasury bills. Even a vintage Volkswagen “Beetle” that’s worth more now than the day they bought it.

Nowadays my Aunt Jane -- who we always thought was just a little crazy -- is a bonafide millionaire!

One day I asked her for the secret of her success. “I have three rules,” she said.

1) Never let your money sit idle

2) Never pay more than you have to for anything

3) Never pass up anything that’s free

Well, my friend, unless you return the enclosed card today, you’re going to break at least one -- and probably all three -- of my aunt’s rules.

Because if you return the enclosed card, you’ll get a free issue of KIPLINGER’S PERSONAL FINANCE (Rule #3). If you decide to subscribe, you’ll get the next 11 issues at a very low price, plus three free bonus gifts (Rule #2). And instead of spending the rest of your life working for money, you’ll put your money to work for you. (Rule #1)

I know my Aunt Jane wouldn’t pass up a free sample issue of KIPLINGER’S PERSONAL FINANCE magazine.

But of course…

She already subscribes.

Best regards,

Richard Armstrong

Brilliant. And short. Less than 300 words.

Now, how would this have gone as a hero’s journey story?

Aunt Jane, graduates from an archivist program with a degree in library science. Ordinary life. Gets a job. Expenses go up, faster than salary. Gets married. Starts saving. Sees the writing on the wall. Jane and husband start investing. Husband gets laid off. Government budget crunch, Jane’s job is in danger. Will she continue to invest or is she going to start looking for a new job…

And so on until she retires and discovers she’s a millionaire…

But what Richard did was much more pared down, much more elegant, and much more effective.

The first good thing about a demonstration story is that it quickly and effectively gets the prospect imagining they have the product or are using the service you’re offering – and this increases their desire.

But there’s a second good thing about a demonstration story, too…

• How not having the product (after hearing or reading a “demonstration story”) has the same effect as a super-powerful “takeaway close.” In other words, your prospect close themselves!

Takeaway close – works probably better than any other close. Get a prospect excited about having something, and then telling them they can’t have it

- after a deadline

- after a limited quantity is no longer available

- at the same price after a certain date, because the price goes up

and there are other versions. Usually comes at the end of a spoken pitch, or the end of your copy.

Reason: Human nature. People want what they can’t have. If they can wait forever, they will…

With these demonstration stories, you’re doing a second level of takeaway… because… each time a prospect reads one, they “have” the product/service in their imagination… and then, boom! It’s gone. So with the Jitterbug ad: Five demonstration stories, five takeaways. Then they end with a fairly simple and light close, which simply pushes the prospect off the fence:

Enough talk. Isn’t it time you found out about the cell phone that’s
changing all the rules? Call now. Jitterbug product experts are
standing by.

By the way, if this a phone you’re interested in… I don’t have any business relationship with the company, but, for example, I know this is something my girlfriend’s parents would probably be interested in!

So… you can see the power in these demonstration stories

• How to create your own “demonstration story.”

These stories are incredibly easy to write.

Here’s the catch: You need to know your prospects well. You need to know what’s on their mind. What they’re unhappy with about competing products. What they’re afraid of. How they’ve been disappointed in the past.

And, most important, how they talk about it.

Once you know that, you simply state their objection, and answer it in a sentence or two.


Website software is too rigid and difficult to use.

“I used to go crazy trying to put a web page together.” Well, with EasyWeb, you can put a professional looking web page together in 10 minutes or less. And you have complete flexibility as to what it looks like – or you can use one of our six proven templates for your page if you don’t want to design it yourself.

This kind of thing is easy to do if you know what’s on the mind of your prospects, and how they talk about it, and how what you offer solves the problem that you’re talking about.

So the key to these stories is not the formula – that’s simple, and by now you should understand what it is.
The key is knowing how to fill in the formula – and the only way you’re going to be able to do that so it works is by knowing your prospects—ideally, knowing them inside-out.

You can get this information in a number of ways. By talking to prospects. Talking to customers. If you have salespeople, talk to them. If you have customer service people, ask them about the most common questions and complaints. Look on sites like Amazon where there are reviews… you’ll find common themes if you read enough and think about what you read.

In short, once you start to become an expert on your own customers, the copy starts to almost write itself!

Keywords: story telling techniques sales copy demonstration

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