Why is story so powerful in copywriting, marketing, advertising?

Stories are nailed into our brains right from when we are wee young things.

They are how we make sense of everything. From a very early age, we poked around, learned what things are, and linked things up:

We grew up drawing pictures of the stories of our lives. Kids in warzones draw guns in their stories; others draw smiley suns. Psychologists use the stories from play, to analyse kids’ psychologies.

A story is the linking of event-A to event-B to event-C, etc, with all the zillions of other stuff cut out. A story is a thought-experiment: what happens when there’s A then B then C…?

Thought experiments help us make plans — the more we’ve sussed things out with thought experiments, the more we can figure out what will happen if we do A then B then C. And plans help us do better in life. They are fundamental to survival and to success.

Maybe that’s why we enjoy films, and books, and stories in conversation. Because survival of the fittest has made the story flick on the pleasure switches in our brains — so that we learn. So we can survive and prosper.

We are each the center of our own stories, of course. And when you make your product integral to our story, you are keying into the fundamentals of how we understand the world.

This type of thinking is what drives good copywriting: in ads, in direct marketing, in website copy.

In your story, you’re planting ideas, thoughts, and emotions into people’s brains. Story helps people come to their own conclusions. And when they do that, they are way more convinced than if someone just tells them the facts.

It’s not always about ‘telling a story’. Rather, it’s about weaving in elements of story.

And it’s about becoming a part of people’s stories. With my Vodafone Hole Through The Earth, for example, it’s about being a part of the excitement in their day:


(Of course, it’s not an actual hole. There’s telecoms equipment under the grid.)

How to Price for Profit And Long-term Success

If you sell widgetmacallits at 10 smackeroonies a pop, and if you stick your price up to 15 smackeroonies, you can afford to lose a pile of customers and still make the same money…

…only with less messin’; less time spent; less stock to buy…

…and the customers you keep will be your better customers: they’re the ones with you not just for the price.

and you can put some of the time and energy and money you’ve banked, into these real customers: give ’em a better product; give ’em better service…

and you can put some of that time and money and energy into getting more right-type customers…

= you win on a bunch of fronts. And your good customers win too.

…And you can Continue reading How to Price for Profit And Long-term Success

Can you make a profit long term, discounting?

The quick answer is No.

The longer answer is Yes but…

Yes but:

Holland and Barrett, you might’ve noticed if you live in the UK or Ireland, seems most of the time to have a sale on:

…alternating between buy-one-get-one-for-one-cent /one-penny – and – buy-one-get-one-half-price.

Get-one-for-one-penny would seem better, you might agree, except that offer isn’t on everything in the shop. And the other offer is.

…which means: whichever offer is on, there’s a reason to pop in.

…and that gets by one of the problems with discounting: that when a Continue reading Can you make a profit long term, discounting?

Selling For People Who Don’t Like Selling



…and anyway: how the heck are you supposed to get somebody from “Bugger off – I’m trying to pick my fingernails in peace here.” To: “Ooo. Where’s the dotted line…?”

People used to trust banks. People used to trust all types of businesses. But the credibility / the believability / the trust – has gone…

…so people don’t trust your business, before they even know about it. And lots of people don’t want to know about it.

Your business has all the baggage of the rip offs people have seen other businesses do…

It’s not your fault. But all this has a real impact on how open – or not open – people are to your messages.

So this blog post is about tackling that: people’s openness to what you want to say to them.

One way of tackling this, is by Continue reading Selling For People Who Don’t Like Selling

What type of advertising works best?

McDonalds, Coke, Bavaria beer – they all build stories in people’s heads – and of course a whole bunch of other products are all about image. You drink the can – not just the beer.

Course, you know you need to build a good story in people’s heads…

Thing is, the fellas and the lassies behind the likes of Coke, Bavaria, and McDonalds, have millions to spend on marketing. Literally. Millions. And that’s what it takes: literally: millions…to build the image and the story for a big brand…

But this blog post is for you if you’re not one of those fellas or lassies with a big brand to manage. If you don’t have millions to build a brand. If you have a smaller gig.

Here’s what you need to do:
Continue reading What type of advertising works best?

9 Ways to Get Ideas for New Products

This morning on a shelf in Tesco’s…

I saw a new thing: cheese sticks wrapped in ham.

…will it work, sold like that?

…I dunno. …might get some people salivating…? I’m a wrap-my-cheese-in-my-ham person…

I saw too, chocolate bars with tayto-crisp-crumbs stuck in them. Now there’s a use for the bits in the bottom of the packet.

…Will it work?

Well I know choc and crisps are going to churn together in my belly – but that thought doesn’t have me salivating – I like to kid myself the two things are kind of separate…

…and they taste awful – them chocolate bars. Not just to my taste buds – a couple of my friends taste-tested them too.

…but the idea came up on Facebook as I understand – I guess Tayto took on the task of building buzz too. And I don’t think anybody’s kidding themselves the stuff actually tastes good. So surely it’s only a fad and a bit of buzz for Tayto…

…and that’s ok. It’s not like it’s their core product. Jesus, I hope not…

Anyway. Choc. Crisps. Two things stuck together – and sticking two things together, as you know, is very often the place ideas come out of: bits and pieces trampoline about in our brains, that mixes with this, and the other gets created…

…creativity in business is obviously useful.

But: Continue reading 9 Ways to Get Ideas for New Products

What story should your marketing tell?

You know your product needs story, to sell…

So what story should you tell?

Because whether you’re selling carrots so fresh they’re still covered in muck, an iPhone app for when the surf is up, or bottles of water out of a fridge – it’s a story you’re telling / a story you’re selling…

Your story is not just made of words. It’s the carrot muck. The shape of the button. The shop the fridge is in. The advertising you run…

The help-the-human-to-survive that your product provides – it’s not just that that people’re buying…

You know that of course.

So: what story should you tell?

[full post to be added in here]

What the flup…?

I see all these daft-headed buttons on people’s websites. Sending people away from the websites, and onto a social network.

What the flup…?

Why would you do that?

Ok, sometimes it makes sense; facebook and all that can be massive for some brands when they use it well; but a lot of the time, the traffic needs to be going from social networks to your site; if it’s going the other way, you might as well be saying…

“Oh – thanks for visitin’ an’ all; but er… why don’t you feck off to facebook.”

Then what? They ‘Like’ your page…?

So what?

Why do you give a poop-a-scoop if they ‘Like’ your flippin’ faceplace?

Have you thought this through?

How about thinking this:

Whenever someone lands somewhere – anywhere: on your catalog on their doormat; or on a blog post on your site; or on your facespace page – wherever. What do…

[full post to be added in]

A Twitter Board – business / marketing idea:

Here’s an idea…

(It’s straight out of this two-bean-marketing post.)

…A whiteboard, in the shape of a Twitter bird. On it, hand-write a new tweet each day. Prop it by your shop; or in the window; or by the counter…

Why is this good for your business?

(If you have a physical shop, or a place your maybe-customers walk past.)

1. Your twitter board is talking to people who are walking into or by your shop – so you’ll be building your twitter followers from that stream of people – aren’t they some of your best-bet customers?

2. A twitter board is way better than a connect-with-us sticker. We’re practically pee’d on with connect-with-us requests. ‘Please connect with us.’: even if the words on the sticker aren’t as blatant as that – that’s what you’re saying.

Just feel your own reaction to that sentence. Does it make you want to jump on that person’s twitter stream?

And it’s no good telling people you post great stuff on twitter or wherever…

…it’s not that you’re dishonest…

…it’s that Continue reading A Twitter Board – business / marketing idea: