Storytelling makes sales letters and websites much more entertaining, gives you huge boosts in credibility and will in general significantly increase your sales. What are the elements of a great story? How can you use it to increase your credibility? Here are the most important skills and elements to master.
Start with a Lesson
Every story needs to have a crystal clear lesson. The lesson could be a moral one (e.g. “Don’t cheat your customers”), or it could be a technical one (e.g. “What happens when you only pay attention to CTR and not page quality in Adwords”).
Whatever the case, the lesson needs to be clear to you before you start to write the story. Never try to put two lessons in one story and never start writing a story before being clear on the lesson.
Your story’s lesson doesn’t have to be clear to your reader until they get to the very end. But it must be clear to you before you write a single word.
Use Characters They Can Relate To
If you’re talking to beginning stockbrokers, will they relate more to a story about an old widow’s investment mistakes, or the investment mistakes of a young but rash stockbroker? The latter, of course.
The more you can use characters they can relate to, the better.
Even in a very short story, aim to develop your character as much as possible. The reader needs to be able to get a taste for their personality and their current emotional state in their story.
Every character should want something. They may or may not get it in the story, but the desire itself creates tension in the air. “Will they get it?” is the question that should be on the reader’s mind until the end of the story.
The Two Ways to Build Credibility with Stories
There are two main ways to build credibility with stories.
The first is to tell true stories and slip credibility points into the story.
For example, teach your audience how to build a successful website by telling a story. In the process, you can “slip” in comments from other people about how unique your process is.
In telling a story about how to be a successful stockbroker, you might “slip” into the story the fact that you beat 95% of the other stockbrokers, then go right back into the story.
There are claims that would sound presumptuous or bragging if said outright, but that can be safely said in a story.
The second way to build credibility? To clearly demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about by giving top-notch tips and advice.
Use the story to illustrate an educational point and really give your users something valuable. The credibility doesn’t come from talking about yourself, but just really demonstrating that you know your topic.
Storytelling is a powerful tool in any copywriter, marketer or business person’s arsenal. It might feel awkward at first, but with a little bit of practice this skill can pay off for the rest of your life.
In order to get others to listen to what you have to say, you need to be able to convey what makes you credible. To keep others from getting turned off, however, it can’t sound like you’re bragging. Top copywriters and marketers are able to weave massive amounts of credibility into their copy, without ever sounding like they’re bragging. Here’s how it’s done.
Use the Art of Storytelling
There’s a lot you can say in the context of telling a story that can’t be said otherwise.
You could tell a story about how you and your friend, the former CTO of Google, came up with a brilliant concept for helping employees increase productivity. You share what the technique is, share the results and teach it to your audience.
If you hadn’t used a story, it would have sounded presumptuous to say that you’re friends with the former CTO of Google. But in the context of a story, it just becomes a useful tidbit which still carries with it a lot of credibility.
Sprinkle Rather Than Pour
Instead of trying to dump all your credibility factors on your audience all at once, learn to sprinkle.
Drop a fact here, allude to another factor there. Mention an incredible result in one blog post, then move on. Briefly touch on an influential friend on another page and don’t make a big deal out of it.
In other words, just drop subtle hints that you know what you’re talking about, then move on. Don’t try to prove anything and don’t “pile on” credibility points.
The one exception is your bio page. When people are reading your bio page, they explicitly want to know about you and who you are. In your bio page, go all out and share all your credibility factors, along with other facts about yourself they may want to know.
If you’ve ever been in the press, put the press logos on your site, saying “As Seen On …”
If your site is SSL secure, put on the SSL logo. If it’s BBB approved, put on the BBB approved logo.
If you have before and after photos, put on the before and after photos. If you have a photo of a check, use the photo rather than saying how much money you made.
Photos not only build more credibility, but have a way of slipping under the radar. It seems cocky to tell someone you met the president, but posting an image of you shaking the president’s hand on your website will seem impressive rather than boastful.
Unless you make it clear why you’re credible, people won’t listen. But it’s important that you share this credibility in an under the radar manner, rather than an in your face manner. Now you know how.
The email address is the holy grain of internet marketing. Once you have someone’s email, they are many, many more times more likely to buy than a one-time visitor. Unfortunately, visitors today are much more reluctant to hand out their address. People simply get far too many emails in this day and age to want to sign up for another email list.
So how do you get someone to trust you enough to give you their email? They need to know these three essential things.
What Do I Have to Gain?
This is the most important question of all: “What do I have to gain?”
If someone would gain a 50% increase in income by being on your email list, no matter how many emails they’re getting today they’re probably going to sign up for your list.
On the other hand, if you’re offering lessons on basket weaving and they have no interest in basket weaving, it doesn’t matter how good your marketing is: they’re not going to sign up.
The trick to using this principle effectively is crafting a great offer. Make sure they know that the moment they sign up, they’ll get something valuable that’ll help them in their life, immediately.
The higher you can get the perceived value of this offer, the better. Some examples of offers that have worked include free digital reports, free audio interviews and even free shipped DVDs.
Who Are You and Why Should I Listen?
With so many people claiming to be experts on so many different subjects, it’s hard for people on the web to know who to trust.
Why should they believe that you know what you’re talking about? What sets you apart from other people; and why should they sign up for your list rather than someone else’s?
To overcome this obstacle, share your experiences, qualifications, personality and most importantly results. What have you done in the past that would impress your potential customers? Don’t be shy about showcasing that.
What Will You Do with My Email?
Once you have their email, what will you do with it? Will you add it to a bunch of spam lists and sell it to other marketers? Will you email them every day with sales offers? Or will you give them high-value content, once or twice a week?
When it comes down to it, users just want to know that they’re going to have a positive experience as a result of being on your list.
You don’t need to give them a detailed business plan about what you’re going to use their email for; however, many marketers have found that just one or two lines telling users they won’t be spammed and that they’ll only be emailed content once a week actually increases conversion significantly.
These are the three things users need to know before they’ll feel comfortable giving you their email address. Address all three issues and watch your opt-ins soar.
How do colors and graphics affect your website? The effect is a bit like an office. Imagine a client coming into your office. Before they even have a chance to gauge your business or your character, they’re already making judgments based on the cleanliness and design of your space.
Your colors and graphics work in much the same way. It doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of your product, but the reader will still make decisions about your credibility, reliability and professionalism based just on your colors and graphics.
These aren’t conscious decisions. They’re subconscious, subtle feelings of trust or distrust.
Here are basics of what you need to know about choosing colors and graphics to build credibility.
The Basics of Using Color
First of all, it’s a good idea to have one primary color and one adjacent color. Sometimes a site can do well with just one color or three colors, but it’s usually best to never have more than three colors.
The colors you choose should be similar enough that they’re soothing to the eye. The colors need to fit well together to create one smooth design.
However, two colors shouldn’t be so similar that they clash. Two different shades of green, or a light green and a light yellow, for example, are just too similar. It creates strain on the eye.
Contrast or opposing colors should be used with care. It’s okay to use opposing colors or high contrast to bring attention to one or two elements. But it is less effective as an overall color scheme.
Use neutral colors like black, white and grey liberally. Just like how white space is half the picture in graphic design, your neutral colors are half the picture in color selection.
Use your one to three colors with moderation, to sprinkle feeling throughout your website. The rest of your website should be neutral. Don’t try to color everything.
The Two Rules for Graphics
These are the two rules for graphics:
1. Don’t have too many graphics.
2. Each graphic must be highly professional.
In any given article or page, just have one graphic, maybe two. In your header, you only need one graphic. The same applies to just about anything else in your website.
Too many graphics takes power away from each graphic. The best designs use just a few powerful graphics, rather than a bunch of graphics that all detract from one another.
Each graphic needs to be very carefully chosen. It should be color corrected and its contrast balanced in a photo editing program. Make it a crisp photo, taken from a great angle.
In short, the photo should convey professionalism, credibility and quality.
It takes discipline in the beginning to put fewer graphics on a site. But that’s what it’ll take to really create a great-looking website.
Those are the basics of using colors and graphics in your site. Remember – your colors and graphics are like your office. They set your first impression before they even evaluate your product or offer.
There are many different ways you can position your brand in the market. Each will attract a different kind of clientele. How do you position your personal brand to attract the ideal kind of clients? Here are a few different brand positions to choose from.
Being First or Original
If you can firmly establish yourself as the first or the original in a given topic, it’ll become very hard for other people to come into your market. They’ll just come off as copycats.
Coca-Cola for example will probably always be the leading soda brand, primarily because they were here first. Pepsi is seen as a bit of a coke-copy, for no other reason than because they came on the market second.
Being the Go-To Expert in a Certain Sub-Niche
When people think of a certain topic, you want them to think of you. The goal is to become the go-to expert in a certain narrow sub-niche.
For example, when someone thinks of personal development, they often think of Tony Robbins. When someone thinks of real estate flipping, they often think of Robert Allen (the “no money down” guy.)
These are higher profile examples, but the principle applies even to much smaller markets. It’s much better to be well known in a small sub-niche than obscure in a bigger market.
Being Personable, Caring about the Client
Another effective way to position your brand is to be Number One in customer service. This can’t just be lip service. Your company needs to go so far out of their way for the benefit of the customer that people are amazed.
One prime example is Nordstrom. Their clothing is priced significantly higher than other clothing stores, yet they’re an immensely successful business.
Why? Because of their reputation for customer service. If it wasn’t for that, they’d probably be priced out of the market.
Being Interesting to Follow
This last brand works very well for some, but won’t work at all for others.
Some people’s brand is basically that they’re interesting companies or people to follow.
Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines), for example, has a phenomenal brand as someone who’s totally off the wall and just plain interesting for people to follow.
In this case, your brand is either very controversial, very unconventional or just plain interesting.
Again, this style works for a select handful of people, but doesn’t work at all for many.
These are a few different ways you can position your personal brand. As you can tell, there are many different kinds of brands that can succeed. The most important thing is that you pick one style and stick with it. Trying to change your brand midway will just dilute your image.
Make the Most Out of Your First 200 Pixels
Your first 200 pixels can have a big effect on both the “vibe” of your site, as well as your total conversion rate. Designing a great header involves first understanding a few key principles, then doing a fair bit of experimentation.
Here’s how to make the most out of your first 200 pixels.
Decide on How Attention-Grabbing Your Header Should Be
Some headers are purposefully designed to fade into the background. These headers lend the site a subtle sense of beauty, credibility and professionalism, then disappear from the reader’s minds.
Other headers are designed to grab attention. They tell the user what the site is about, who you are or any number of other things. In other words, the header plays an active role rather than a passive role in the website.
Before you do anything else, first decide how attention-grabbing you want your header to have. This decision will inform all your other choices.
Generally, for content websites, a strong header is a good idea. For sales letter websites, the header should more or less fade to the background and give the first impression to the headline instead.
Tips on Color in the Header
It’s best if your header has the same color scheme as the rest of your website. In fact, your header often sets the tone for the whole color scheme.
Use just one or two main colors in your header. These colors should complement the rest of your site.
Avoid using harsh colors like red or yellow in your header. Remember that users are going to have to look at your header constantly as they browse your site. Make it easy on their eyes.
Be Very Selective with Text
Never, ever use hard to read typography in your header. Avoid “creative” fonts like Comic Sans that look different, but people are unaccustomed to reading.
Only put one or two lines in your header. Too much text can kill an otherwise brilliant header.
It’s a good idea to put your logo and/or tagline in your header. This helps build your brand on every page.
More often than not, the best headers won’t come out of careful planning. Instead, just boot up Photoshop and experiment.
Come up with a few different possible designs and play with how they’ll look. Set apart a whole day to just brainstorm ideas, apply different filters and play with the look of your header.
At the end of the day, your header may look nothing like you planned it to look. But it’ll look spectacular.
Designing a header is an important step to creating a professional, well-designed website. Take the design principles we talked about into account, then just play and experiment until you create a great header you like.