"Frankly, My Dear … "

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a …”

You can probably fill in the blank for that famous line from Gone with the Wind. These immortal words are spoken when Rhett Butler finally gives up on Scarlett O’Hara. In that moment, he says exactly what’s on his mind – unvarnished, unedited, and unfettered.

That is one of the keys that make the whole story so memorable because it gets to the point. There is no room for misinterpretation.

When using story in your copy projects, the clearer the point and the simpler the language, the better it will come across.

It takes a lot of work to simplify. A reporter once asked a famous speaker, “How long does it take you to prepare for a 20-minute speech?” The speaker responded, “About 10 hours.” The reporter continued, “Well, how much time to prepare a 30-minute speech?” He replied, “Five hours.”

The insolent reporter couldn’t resist one more question, so he quipped, “And how long for a one-hour speech?” The famous speaker retorted, “I can do that one right now!” The bottom line is that it takes a lot work to get to the point quickly.

Here are a few questions that will help you ensure your stories get to the point and are hitting their intended target.

First, is it truthful?

Just remember that the very best stories will be grounded in truth. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take a little literary license. But your story must ring true. Your intended audience should believe, “Yes, that happened or that could happen to me.” That’s why the best stories are your stories because they happened to you. Hemingway once said, “Good writing is true writing …”

Second, is it interesting?

It is important to gauge whether your story is enticing. Before you roll it out publicly, try it out on friends and family. Watch how they respond. Based on their feedback, revise it until it connects the way you want it to.

Third, is it passionate?

Aristotle referred to this as “Pathos.” It’s often associated with emotional appeal. Remember the old (but true!) sales axiom that people buy on emotion but justify with fact. There is simply no substitute for a story that connects with your audience at a core level.

One of the charities that we support is a children’s home. Our family has been associated with them for the past 30 years. Each child was either abandoned by parents or taken away by the courts.

The children are watched over by “house parents.” They are clothed, fed, and educated in a private school. Each of the children is different, but all of them have one thing in common, a tragic story.

This important, necessary, and life-changing organization has survived on financial support from religious institutions, corporations, and other benefactors over the years by simply letting these children tell their stories. Some may think it is manipulative, but I believe those stories of where the children came from and where they are now shows the difference that a few people can make in the world. The real stories by real children enable them to continue their work with future generations.

Keep this TIP (truthful, interesting, and passionate) in mind the next time you decide to use story in your copywriting. It will not only help you make your point, but also help your audience get it.

By now, I hope you are convinced that the use of story should be your preferred tool as a copywriter. Be sure to share the stories of your success with us!

Thank you for joining me for this week’s Writer’s Life.

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Published: June 15, 2012

1 Response to “"Frankly, My Dear..."”

  1. Thank you.

    I really enjoyed reading this article.

    Sure, good copywriting, after all, is about good story-telling.

    Your readers (target audience) want to be able to connect to your story.

    They want to find a story--they are in search of a story--that they can relate to.

    Your story should make sense and speak to their personal lives and professional or work experiences.

    There is little scope here for mistakes: the margin of error is less than one can imagine.

    Story-telling is an art to be mastered. Your readers will be grateful for it.

    Archan Mehta

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