February 26, 2017

Stories That Sell: The 7 Stories You Need to Include in Your Sales Letters

Improve your sales page or landing page with stories

Stories are a powerful, underrated sales tool.

They can inject personality and spirit into your lifeless copy.

They can make readers identify with your offering through relatable characters.

And they can lead your prospects to the sale...WITHOUT making them feel like they’ve been sold via sneaky methods (or threats of broken knuckles - kapish?).

Today I’m going to talk about the 7 stories every sales letter needs. These are “stacked narratives” - stories that build on each other within an overarching story.

IMPORTANT: These ideas need to form a congruent thread - you don’t just zig zag from one story to another. They need to FLOW like Eminem on the mic.

If you avoid this warning there’s a greater chance your readers will bounce off your sales page and into your competitor’s cold, wrinkled claws.

Credit for these ideas goes to Henry Bingaman, a Copywriter who works exclusively in the financial publishing niche. He’s been working with the same client since 2012 (at least, he was when the podcast this article is based on was released) and his copy has helped drive that client’s growth from $30 million to over $100 million in yearly revenue.

Big bucks!

1 - The Paradigm Shift Story

First, we need to shift your reader’s view of the world.

Example 1: You think your dog’s always going to tear up your furniture, but it’s not because Product X has a solution.

Example 2: Neo in “The Matrix” movies, going from plugged to unplugged, seeing how the world REALLY is.

But...the world has to change in a way the reader’s interested in. If you can’t convince your reader (like Morpheus convinced Neo that he was The One), this story doesn’t work.

2 - The Guru or Origin Backstory

You also need to create a backstory that's relevant and powerful.

And like anything in life, think in terms of quality over quantity. It’s better to have ONE powerful story than several average stories. 

Example 1: The rags-to-riches Internet entrepreneur who was broke and homeless and now makes a gazillion dollars a year.

Example 2: Any superhero movie (everyone from Superman to Batman have great origin stories).

Pro-tip: The more you can draw out the origin story with powerful proof points, the stronger it’ll be.

3 - The Shocking Discovery Story

You want to tell your readers a compelling story that explains how Product X was discovered/created. While it's similar to the Origin Story, we want to shift the focus from you to your offer.

Example 1: An explainer video that shows how your subscription model was created when you realized during your trip to Mongolia that men want an exotic collection of handcrafted Mongolian cigars delivered to their door once a month.

Example 2: How you were messing around in your garage and accidentally built a solar-powered widget that will revolution the transportation industry.

Notice I said “shocking” discovery story. Nobody wants to read a boring story about how you came up with your brilliant idea on your rocking chair.

Pro-tip: Think about how your shocking discovery story ties into your Unique Selling Proposition. What makes you different? What makes you BETTER than the competition?

4 - The Escalation Story

Now we ramp things up and escalate.

But first, a quick recap:

  • We’ve changed the way your readers think about your category or offer.

  • We’ve told them an intriguing origin story that gets them interested in YOU.

  • We’ve given them a shocking discovery story that they’ll be telling all their powerful, well-connected friends at dinner later tonight.

Here we can tell a story about how Product X helped Prospect Peter and how he didn’t think it’d be possible.

Example 1: The fat guy who had tried every diet under the sun and couldn’t lose weight - and keep it off - until now!

Example 2: The shy guy who never had any luck with the ladies, but turned into a real-life Casanova.

Pro-tip: Increase the stakes and emphasize how important this story is by adding extra excitement and emotion. This is where you can pepper in a little “But wait...there’s more!” style copy in your sales letter.

5 - The Urgency Story

One of the key aspects of direct response copy is that you need to tell your readers why they need to take action NOW.

Not next week or next month, but NOW. Here you can use scarcity tactics like:

  • Limited time offer

  • Limited quantity offer

  • Prices going up

So the urgency story is absolutely essential to give your readers a little extra nudge to take action.

6 - The Mission Statement (Reason Why) Story

Here you explain why you do what you do.

People want to know why you’re doing something and why you’re selling it. What’s your reason?

Example 1: You saw your parents lose their 401Ks during the recession, so you decided to learn everything there is to know about 401Ks and retirement planning. You found out that there are a bunch of scammers in the industry and you’ve made it your mission in life to give honest, actionable advice.

Example 2: Think about how this ties into your legacy. What do you want to be known for? Reducing poverty? Helping people live fit, active lives?

Pro-tip: Go deep on your Mission Statement.

  • What do you LOVE?
  • What do you HATE?
  • Why is this so important to you?

Enthusiasm is infectious and this is an opportunity for you to transfer to your readers.

7 - The Value Proposition Story

Finally, it's time to make your pitch.

This is the selling part of the story. The reader has stayed with you up until this point, so you need to be careful. Don’t scare him/her off!

I like to frame selling in terms of value. So instead of thinking of this section as the “sales pitch,” think of it as the part of the copy where you explain how you have created this special offer to add real, tangible value to your reader’s lives.

Example 1: You have 3 offers (low price, mid-tier price, and premium offering) and 4-5 bullets per module/product/course, etc.

Example 2: You have a special offer with all sorts of bonuses that are congruent with all your stories and your target’s various need states.

Of course, you can combine both examples and change them up a million different ways.

The point is, like an attorney making his closing argument, this is where you give your readers a compelling story to make them take your side (and buy your stuff).

Use These Stories In Your Next Sales Page

This was a meaty post, so I hope you were hungry because I gave you a lot to chew on.

Let’s recap what we covered in this post:

  1. The Paradigm Shift Story

  2. The Guru or Origin Backstory

  3. The Shocking Discovery Story

  4. The Escalation Story

  5. The Urgency Story

  6. The Mission Statement (Reason Why) Story

  7. The Value Proposition Story

Questions? Ask me in the comments.

And if you want to see how I can incorporate these stories into your own sales page(s), find out how you can work with me today. 


​Copy Chief - Episode 14 - The 7 Stories Every Sales Letter Needs - Part 1

​CopyChief - Episode 15 – The 7 Stories Every Sales Letter Needs - Part 2

Henry Bingaman​