Issue #66—May 24, 2019
What's a better opening sentence?
When I was 10, I decided I would never be financially dependent on a man...and when I was 35, I decided I would never be financially dependent on a company.
As I sat on the toilet in the women's room pumping breast milk, I sobbed...not because I missed my son, but because I was grieving for my career.
I just spent an eye-opening 3 days earlier this week attending Bo Eason's Personal Story Power workshop in La Jolla, California. The thrust of what Bo does is help entrepreneurs and others tell their personal story and how it relates to their mission and what they do for their customers.
And the main focus is on storytelling.
We reviewed the four essential components of a good opening story: vulnerabilitiy (the new credibility)...conflict (you can't have a story worth hearing without it)...transformation (as copywriters, we know this as "future pacing" when applied to our prospect)...and point of view (what or how did you think at the time of the story, and how did it change as a result of your transformation?)
But back to that opening sentence--or, as Bo called it, that "one true sentence". We spent a lot of time on that in the workshop and not much else, aside from some powerful movement and meditative exercises guided by Jean-Louis Rodrigue, a top movement coach who works with Hollywood's biggest stars.
When it was my turn to be up on stage and say my one true sentence to the audience, I went with the first one I shared with you earlier. After much analysis of events that had led up to my "mommy tracking" when I came back to work after having my first child, in spite of a highly successful career path up until then, I think I was trying to cram too much into that first sentence.
I said that sentence up on stage 3 or 4 times, with Bo guiding me in different ways and even dancing with me on stage to help me relax into it.
And as soon as I sat down in my seat, I rewrote it completely.
Hey, this is what we copywriters do, right? That opening sentence and paragraph in our copy probably gets edited and rewritten more than any other section of our copy.
That second sentence above puts you immediately into the scene---in that bathroom stall with me sobbing. This is what your "one true sentence" and your opening sentence of your copy needs to do: draw your prospect in immediately and put them IN the scene in your story.
In fact, the #1 mistake people make with stories is they tell their story...instead of reliving it. When you relive your story and tell it from start to finish, you feel the emotion. So if you want more emotion in your copy that hits your prospect's hot buttons, keep this in mind whether you're telling your story or your client's or spokeperson's.
And the thing that's funny about a good opening story? It puts your reader into his or her own life. It gets them engaged and participating--and ultimately, it gets them to choose you (or your product).
That's the ultimate power of a good opening story or sentence...and how it can make your prospect more likely to buy from you right from the beginning.
Back to that second "one true sentence" of mine. I'd now rewrite it once again given the chance, because it's important when telling a story not to play the victim card (instead it's best to show how a difficult situation turned out to be a blessing as it shows strength and instills confidence).
And honestly, I never did see the "mommy tracking" as a victim experience...what it did for me is open the door and literally "push" me off the plane to sky jump into freelance copywriting.
Sure, it felt like unfair treatment at the time, but the ultimate "revenge" was making 50% more my first year, and then earning more than three times as much a few years later (while working half as many hours), all while actually having flexibility and balance in my life while raising two great kids.
And I'm now financially independent---with or without a man (though thankfully with a great one-my husband and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary and spent the week in Anguilla last week soaking up the sun and swimming in the warm Caribbean sea).
Just as I'm not financially dependent on a man, I'm not financially dependent on a company, either.
And that's truly one of the most empowering and liberating things about freelancing, isn't it?
(Sure, it took me a few years after leaving my marketing executive job to get rid of my St. John "power suits" once I was convinced I really wasn't going to have to return to the corporate world, but I haven't looked back since!)
That's one of the main reasons I decided a few years ago I wanted to coach and teach other copywriters...I want other---women and men---to enjoy the kind of freedom, balance, and control over one's own life that freelancing can bring with it.
If you haven't had a chance to check out my newest program where I bare all my strategies for writing successful copy including my own process start to finish and in-depth training you'd be hard-pressed to find from any other A-list copywriter, you'll want to check it out here.
Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. The deadline for you to participate in 4 live group coaching calls with me and special guests Carline Anglade-Cole, Richard Armstrong, "Big Jason" Henderson, and Lori Haller is coming up soon. in June. You won't want to miss the control breakdowns, copy critiques, on-the-spot coaching, and much more. Hope to see you on the calls in June! (and if you can't make those, you can still learn from the same Copy Intensive and exclusive group mentoring training and interviews virtually). Find out more right here.