5 Steps to Craft a Story That Hooks Your Audience Every Time Still slapping a bunch of facts and figures into your copy? Try wrapping your core message into a story that will breathe life into your brand while simultaneously capturing your audience's attention (and wallets).
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Since the dawn of time, humans have used storytelling to share our experiences, communicate our feelings and foster a deep connection with others. Stories are the most natural way for us to process information and make decisions.
In fact, we're genetically hardwired to respond to a story in a way that cold hard data just can't touch. Studies have shown that when we begin to emotionally resonate with a story's characters, our brain releases oxytocin, the neurochemical responsible for making us feel more connected.
But even though storytelling has been proven to be one of the most effective forms of communication, many entrepreneurs fail to fully harness its power in their messaging.
Stories are the single most compelling way to get your audience's attention and better convey the message you want them to receive. When you incorporate storytelling into your marketing strategy, you can build a deeper connection with your target market and scale your business on an exponential level.
If you really want to get your audience hooked on your story and catapult your business's success, you need to weave your message into a compelling narrative that resonates with them on an emotional level.
Related: Marketing 101: The Art of Storytelling
So how do you do it? Put all of your stories through this simple, five-step framework to create engaging content with maximum resonance and impact. It's the same one I use to help my clients tell more compelling stories that increase their audience engagement and grow their online communities.
1. Hook and entice
While you may have been able to captivate an audience with a long-winded, mediocre speech back in the caveman days, today's humans are busier, more distracted and primed to resist anything that isn't interesting.
If you want to pique your audience's curiosity and get them on board with your story, you need to grab their attention within the first few lines of your copy.
Start with an unexpected question, challenge or statement that hits on either a major pain point or deep desire you know your audience has. This will require a little homework on your end in the form of target-market research, but it's well worth the effort.
Once you have a strong understanding of your target market, you can start to craft stories that directly appeal to their fears, struggles, wants and needs.
2. Escalate the problem
Now that you've got their attention, it's time to escalate the problem. This is where you paint a vivid picture of not only the specific pain they're currently going through, but also what consequences might be in store if they don't start to make changes.
The direr the consequences, the more likely your audience is to take action. So make sure you go all-in with this step, highlighting all of the potential risks and trade-offs of continuing on this course.
It's equally as important to think about all of the efforts they might have made in the past to solve this problem and how those efforts failed. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you would need to see for you to finally take action.
The overall goal here is to give your audience an emotional experience that resonates so deeply that they're on the edge of their seats, itching for your solution.
Related: How to Create an Irresistible Offer by Surveying Your Audience on LinkedIn
3. Create a "eureka" moment
You've got them emotionally invested in your story — and it's time to introduce your solution. But don't just give them the facts. Give them the full-fledged, lightbulb "ah-ha" moment that will forever change the way they see the problem. Tell them a story that helps them visualize what the solution to their problem looks like in a way that's realistically possible.
Here's where people can get a little tripped up because your product or service isn't necessarily the solution. Rather, you're telling them how this pain point can be resolved through the lens of your experience and expertise. You know how to solve the problem because you've been in their shoes and you've done it before. So, whatever it is you're selling is highly valuable because it comes from a place of reliable knowledge.
You're connecting the dots by providing a new perspective on the problem and showing your target market how they can finally overcome it. You've given them an aspirational glimpse into their future where this solution has already made all of the difference. This is where you show them what is possible.
4. Resolve the problem
With the eureka moment in place, it's time to resolve the problem through your story. Using your experience as the foundation, you need to show your audience the benefits of resolving their problem and the radical changes they can expect once they take action.
Once people hear your story and realize that there's a better, far more effective solution to what's been plaguing them, you'll want to give them a step-by-step process of how you did it. Peel back the curtain and tell the story of how you resolved the problem.
This strategy works for two reasons. One, it helps your audience experience your method from a safe space because they're vicariously living through you. And two, it helps build and solidify that essential know-like-trust factor because they've witnessed firsthand that you know what you're talking about.
You want to give them a crystal-clear picture of the future that they can't wait to get their hands on — the life, business or family dynamic you know they'll have once they start experiencing all of these benefits. Share with them how this will be tangibly different from where they are today and the resulting impact it could have on everything else in their lives.
The most effective stories in this step are the ones that are specific and get to the point quickly. So be sure to paint a very vivid picture of what life with your solution will look like.
Related: Why Trust Is the Most Important Part of 'Know, Like and Trust'
5. Call them to action
Even the most compelling stories mean little if you don't move your audience to action at the end. Now that they've connected with your incredible transformation, it's time to give them a roadmap of what they need to do in order to make it happen for themselves.
Outline the specific steps they need to take and tell them what to do now that they've connected to your message. Whether it's signing up for your weekly newsletter or scheduling a consultation, make it as easy as possible for them to continue the journey you've started.
This framework can be used across all different kinds of content. You can expand it to be the length of a landing page or contract it to fit into an Instagram caption. So long as you take your audience on a journey where they can clearly see who you are, why you understand their problem and why you have a solution — versus just showing up and telling them to trust you — you're helping them experience the value of what you're selling through storytelling.
If you can master the art of storytelling, you can create a powerful connection with your target market and convert them into loyal customers. By understanding the five essential steps of storytelling, you can create a story that hooks your audience and leaves them eager and ready to take action.