by Karen J. Marchetti

7 Steps in the Story Copy Approach

This continues the 7 steps to create your brand story with steps 5-7. See the Story Approach for Stronger Messaging, part 4 for steps 1-4.

Step five: How can we actively motivate the action we want them to take?

We have to shake prospects by the shoulders to get them to act. There has to be a really strong reason for your audience to take action. Here’s our draft statement in answer to question 5.

Get started today risk-free and be that much closer to finishing.

In Story Approach for Stronger Messaging (part 4), we said that’s what the Continuing Education people really want to do. They just want to get it done.

Step six: What is the cost of not taking action?

According to Donald Miller (these 7 questions are taken from his book, Building a Storybrand), most people are more likely to make a change to avoid a loss as opposed to gaining something.

In step six, we want to talk about how to avoid failure or emphasize the cost of not taking action. So we can talk about what you potentially lose every day.

Every day you delay is a day you could have gotten closer to finishing.

So this is sort of agitating the pain (a variation we talked about in What Could Your Sales Message Be Missing part 2).

Step seven: What will life look like with your product or solution?

You want to end your story with a successful outcome. You give your prospects a successful vision of what life is going to be like after the purchase. It’s where you want to take them on this journey, who they want to be, how you’re going to change their lives, inspire them. Here’s our draft inspirational phrase:

Your next career success could be just a course away.

This obviously applies perfectly to those who are starting a real estate career or taking the next step up to a broker.

But it could also appeal to the insurance continuing education audience. If they take a course they’ve never had before, maybe it could lead them into new insurance areas they haven’t sold before.

The brand story put together

Once you’ve answered each question and polished the language, look at your story put together. Here’s the outline of the brand story for our real estate and insurance courses client:

Step 1 – What do they want?

The most effective way to learn and pass

Step 2 – What’s standing in the way of getting it?

You don’t want to choose a class that takes you longer to finish, a class you struggle to pass, or  a format that’s frustrating when you’re trying to learn.

Step 3 – Why are we the best one to give them what they want?

Over 4 million courses have been successfully completed. No matter your licensing or renewal situation, we can guide you through it.

Step 4 – What’s our plan to get them there?

Download your course and get started today. Get your optional printed textbooks tomorrow. Have a real expert with 21 years CE and licensing experience on call seven days a week for questions.  Enjoy a 30-day money back guarantee to try a course risk free.

Step 5 – How can we motivate them to take action?

Get started today, risk free and be that much closer to finishing every day.

Step 6 – What will you miss by not taking action?

Every day you delay is a day you could have gotten closer to the finish line.

Step 7 – What will life be like after the purchase?

Your next career success could be just a course away.

As you work on these 7 answers, you’ll continue to hone the language (as we did from this initial outline).

Home Page Before and After

The client’s website Home page has a banner just below the Main Menu. The banner used to say:

Company name

Insurance CE and California Real Estate Courses

Like many websites, the company was using this valuable real estate to reiterate their company name, which is already in the masthead. We can make better use of this critical space.

As we started working on their benefits, we changed the banner to:

Learn faster, more easily, more effectively

Over 4 million courses completed

That’s stronger, but it’s still not perfect – because there’s no proof of those “learn” statements.

Now, we’re testing more of the story approach and the banner reads:

Most effective learning format to pass fast

Over 4 million courses completed

Next time: a look at how the story approach transformed the rest of the client’s home page copy.

Karen J. Marchetti is Head of Client Services for Response FX ( She is a master copywriter who regularly doubles and triples client results. Her best-selling book, The Results Obsession: ROI-Focused Digital Strategies to Transform Your Marketing, is available on Amazon. Marchetti has taught direct-response and online copywriting for more than 20 years.

Her 4-video copywriting course presented to SD Direct is available on-demand.