Marketing Bootcamp

Through Storytelling, Entrepreneurs Can Get People to Hit the 'Buy' Button

Q: I own an in-home personal training company and we mostly do online marketing. How do I speak to a potential customer through our website and make them want to buy? How do we tell a story through our copy that will speak to them?
-- Jason DeHenzel

A: You’re right to think that compelling web copy is important in creating a hook to persuade people to buy, but it might be helpful if you think about creating an experience for people coming to your site that totally transcends the transactional.

A great example of web content that creates an experience people keep going back for can be found an hour or so south of Seattle at The Farmstead near Olympia, Washington.

Rachael Taylor and her husband Nick are former military personnel who decided to realize a dream of building a working farm to live on and bring up their daughter. They generate income through raising pigs and lambs in an environment that’s free and protected and by selling them as meat to a community of fans built up through their blog, Facebook and consequently word of mouth. While this is a small company, how they executed their strategy has led to massive exposure (i.e. large following, Kickstarter campaign and participation in a documentary).

Related: 5 Secrets to Crafting the Perfect Startup Story

So what are they doing right?

They understand your needs.

First, they did their homework and know there’s a market for animals farm-raised “without the constant bevy of antibiotics, hormones and fillers, factory farms are forced to use.” But they also know that many of their customers live vicariously through their experience. For many, the dream of dropping everything and moving to the country to do what they have done is a step too far, so they’ve created a window through which customers and potential customers can peer. They’ve provided a momentary escape from the hustle and bustle our regular lives.

They write like they know you.

When a blog post goes live or they update Facebook it’s like they’ve known you for years and vice versa. There’s something in the tone that’s so very conversational it’s easy to read, assimilate and share. The writing speaks to the community willing them to get involved by asking questions and raising points over which healthy debate might ensue. They involve their fans in their decisions and are not afraid to admit their time on the farm sometimes scary.

Related:The 4 Elements of the Most Persuasive Copy

Their content is highly visual.

Their lifestyle causes sensory overload when you visit the farm and while they can’t recreate how their environment smells via the Internet, they do an awesome job of showing their progress through beautiful photography augmented sometimes with inspirational quotes and witticisms.

With Mark Zuckerberg predicting Facebook content will be driven by video in five years, storytelling through film and photography is set to be expected by visitors to your site as a complement to the written word, especially as we’re using mobile devices so much to access information and entertainment.

At the end of the day, the content on your site should give confidence to the visitor that you have a solution to their problem. You want them to email or pick up the phone in order to take their interest to the next phase of the buying cycle. By showing them you understand their needs and by talking to them in a way they can understand and a sense of empathy that builds trust, that next phase should be easier to reach. 

Enhance that experience with visual elements that reinforce their decision that they’re in the right place and you’re onto a winning formula to engage them further and make that sale.

Related: Why 2014 Was the Year of the Story