I promised last week I'd be sharing some lessons and stories from Copy Chief Live.
But what I'm sharing today actually happened as I was leaving the event.
I checked out of the hotel after attending some of the morning sessions on the 3rd bonus "Freelancers Only" day. I wanted to see my email marketing pal Laura Belgray (another person whose engaging emails I collect in their own inbox folder).
Laura had put on a fantastic presentation a few days earlier about how to get paid for being YOU--and now she was doing her "fireside chat" with Kevin Rogers.
(Plus it was her 50th birthday and I had a cute card I made from a hotel notepad to give her.)
In any case, it was time for me to head to the airport after that. No sooner do I order up a Lyft and walk out the door do I see Laura standing outside as a car pulls up to pick her up.
I asked if she was headed to the airport but decided not to suggest a shared ride (I figured she wanted to be ALONE right after speaking and getting through a line of people waiting to talk to her afterwards).
Plus I'd ordered up my Lyft already. The driver pulled up just seconds after Laura's car left.
It's a bit of a drive to Tampa, so the driver and I ended up chatting on the way.
Before long, he was telling me his life story.
(Have we not all had this experience?)
He told me how he'd traveled all over the world: Africa, Europe, Japan, you name it.
He said "this" (driving a Lyft) wasn't the real him. He used to own nightclubs in Dubai. He lived a wealthy life.
His cousin was Lenny Kravitz, so he'd also traveled on tour with him and rubbed shoulders with every famous person under the sun.
Then everything changed for him. He was in a bad accident and a car ran over his face, flattening it completely. He said his entire face was now made of titanium. (It was kind of hard to tell but, you know, they do face transplants now, so whatever.)
The guy tells me he almost died. He spent months recovering, and along the way lost his businesses...and all his money.
But it gets worse. He also lost his wife and kids. He said she worked as an investment banker making 7 figures ("That's the kind of lifestyle we lived.")
While he was lying in a hospital clinging to life with a severely disfigured face, she divorced him and took the kids with her to Australia.
He moved back home to Florida and spent a few years in a deep depression. But he was slowly buying up properties and renting them out. He wanted to build a small amount of wealth slowly this time.
He'd seen what it was like to be rich, and how quickly it could all go away in a flash.
By this point, I'm hooked. I'm hanging on every word this guy is saying.
I'm giving him sympathy and encouragement. As we pull up to the airport, I tell him he should write a book...maybe even a movie.
He says he's been thinking about it. I hand him my card and tell him to email me...that I know some great ghost writers I can hook him up with.
By this point he's pulling my heavy suitcase out of the trunk, and he says, "Yeah, I was thinking of talking to Denzel about it."
I'm like, "Denzel...Washington?"
And he nods.
I feel like I'm parting ways with someone special. At this moment, I'm grateful I didn't hitch a ride with Laura. How would I have ever met this fascinating person?
Yep, I believed all of it.
Then I ran into some colleagues at one of the airport restaurants who were also coming back from the event. We sat together and I shared with them the whole fascinating Lyft driver story.
As I recanted it, I could see it all clearly now... I mean, all the name-dropping just made it so obvious.
And almost a week later, NO email from this guy.
I shared the story with my kids who were home from college, and they're like, "Mom, how could you fall for this...you got played. Ha ha ha ha ha..."
(Ah, as a parent, it's good to know you're always good for a rip-roaring laugh.)
In any case, the lesson here is this: stories completely change your prospect's view of you...or your product.
They can draw in skeptical customers. They can make people trust you. They can get people to keep reading...just like you hopefully kept reading this email.
The best stories hit all the right emotional highs and lows...just like my Lyft driver's. His had pain, loss, redemption, and many other themes you typically find in a "hero's journey". And because it was somewhat unusual, it made me believe it even more.
So where do you get stories to use in your promotions? They don't always have to be directly related to your product.
They can be real-life stories related to problems your product solves...or that showcase benefits your prospect desires (like weight loss) or outcomes your prospect aspires to.
They really can come from anywhere. I just used one today for an email I wrote for a client about my niece and how a study abroad experience helped her career.
A few weeks back I did one based loosely on the famous Wall Street Journal sales letter (a contrasting tale of two men and the path their careers took). It performed extremely well (10 times better than the previous email sent a month prior).
I dug out a story about a substance being dripped into a patient's brain who was suffering from severe Alzheimer's from a published medical book. And then used it in a highly successful memory supplement promotion (an ingredient stimulated the same memory-triggering substance).
I've got dozens more examples like these of stories I've dug out of "nowhere" and used successfully in emails, sales pages, and other promotions.
This is one reason why, when writing long-form promos, I like to do the bulk of the research myself. In the "big idea"-searching phase of the process, you never know what you're going to come across...and how you might use it as a hook or story.
That's all I've got today. I'll let you know if I ever hear from the Lyft driver (I'm sure I won't.)
This makes me feel really gullible, but I gave him a $20 tip on a $24 fare.
I guess it was worth it for the story.
Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. If you missed the email I sent out yesterday, you'll want to sign up for my friend Justin Goff's daily emails. They're short and digestible, yet each daily nugget of copywriting and marketing "gold" is packed with a valuable lesson or insight.
Justin's built multi-million dollar businesses, written copy for the top companies in our industry, and co-leads a mastermind program that's top-notch.
You do need to fill out a brief "application" to get on his free email list, which you can do right here. If you're a working copywriter, or a marketer or business owner, you should fit right in. Hope you enjoy his emails as much as I do (he does a lot of storytelling, too).