How to Turn Everyday Events Into Potent Marketing Messages

 

small life 2

Use Your Real Life Events to Create Marketing Messages With Sizzle

Introduction

If you are like me, sometimes you struggle to come up with interesting story ideas for your blog posts, emails, and social media posts.

Whenever I’m drawing a blank, I inevitably revert to story telling mode.  But my stories are perhaps a little different.  I create stories around everyday events in my life.  Then I segue them into a business point with a call to action.

So for this post, I’m going to show how I do it and why you should do it too.

Although I haven’t yet introduced the technique to this new blog, you can see plenty of examples via my original blog.  Further, after visiting that blog, if you opt into my list you will receive marketing-related emails from me.  Then you’ll be able to experience the technique in all its glory.

On with the show.

Why You Should Use This Strategy In Your Blogging and For Your Other Messaging Activities

Please don’t look at this strategy as ‘filler’ in the absence of other ‘real’ content ideas.  This approach works fine in its own right.  In some respects, it represents the ultimate way to make a point and move people from being disinterested bystanders, to engaged participants who are eager to take action.

This technique works well because it will help draw people closer to you which is surely a worthy objective.  It’s especially true if your business revolves around you.  In other words, you’re building your personal brand.  Therefore, it’s important that you involve readers in your life to some extent.

Why Small Stories Are Often the Best Stories

Some of the most enjoyable movies I’ve watched are small films.  Small budget flicks based on a small story line, with great actors who squeeze every dramatic moment from each short scene.  Absorbing stuff.

Script writers are expert at fashioning the ‘less is more’ narrative.  Often the small scenes with minimal dialogue, are stronger than the big ones.  The subtle moments showing two actors

Twenty years ago a mentor of mine said this: ‘the small stories are the best stories.  Simply put, take the truth and package it into something powerful.

Some people call the type of stories I use ‘slice of life’ stories.  These stories work well if for no other reason than relatability.  People relate because they’ve experienced something similar themselves in their small lives.

You can do the same thing.  All you have to do is choose a familiar story, add some zest, then link it to a business getting point, which would always include a call to action for your current offer.

Simple.

Your Small Life – Not As Small As You Think

Ok, I get it.  You lead a tiny life.  So do I.  Some people who know me may say otherwise. After all, I’m a digital nomad who has spent the last two years living in foreign countries (Asia) and doing some amazing things.

But the reality is that on a day to day basis I’m just like you.  I have my routines, and I grind things out in my business. I do small things.

Despite this, a day rarely passes when I don’t ‘see’ a story idea for my business.

Let me give you some examples:

Three weeks ago I moved into a new apartment here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I chose the apartment at the back of the building figuring it would be quiet as it was well away from the street.  How wrong I was.

What I didn’t notice was that the building backs onto a karaoke bar.  The first night I moved in I was made well aware of it with some loud music blasting into my living room.  So I wrote a story with this heading: Karaoke No Jokey Turns Me Into Narky Blokey.

Crazy headline, yeah?

Sure.  But it’s that kind of headline that helps to ensure that people read your blog posts and open your emails.

At this point, you’re probably thinking ‘what’s a story like that got to do with selling stuff?’  That’s a valid question and here is my answer.  The opening story doesn’t necessarily need to be about business.  It could be about anything interesting,  providing that you can effectively transition from the story to your business message.  That’s all that matters.

Majoring in Minors

You can develop great stories from seemingly unimportant events that probably happen to you every day.  I’m talking about events such as:

  • After a disagreement with your spouse, you can show how you negotiated a ‘settlement’ that both of you saw as a win/win. Use the story as a metaphor for a marketing related business point you want to make.
  • Your kid was naughty but rather than use force to punish him, you quizzed him and got to the cause of the problem, and offered a solution (problem-solving metaphor).
  • You went to the gym for your daily workout and met this old guy who talked about his stint in Vietnam during the conflict in the late 60’s. He spoke about his fear of dying and how he overcame it (a metaphor about courage)
  • You went to a social gathering and met an eccentric person who had you laughing your head off within a minute of meeting her. She shared her life story including how she came back from the brink of insanity and went on to become a best-selling author (a metaphor for persistence and creativity).

small life 1

How to Segue From Your Slice of Life Story to a Potent Business Message

Rather than go for an in-depth tutorial on how to do it I think it’s best to give you a couple of examples of how I do it.

Check this one

Example 1.  A Non-Linked Story (Email)

This is a copy of an email I sent to my list.  I haven’t developed this one into a blog post, but it gives you an idea of the technique in action. This particular email did not link to a business point.  I only told the story and went directly to the offer

Headline: That Was the Week That Was – I Feel Like a Beer

Body Copy Showing the Crossover:

It’s hot here, and a brief thought that flickered through my reptile like brain was  ‘Mmm, a beer would be nice’.

It’s Friday afternoon so will hold off till I go out tonite for a bowl of pasta.

Besides, I wanted to get this 17-minute video to you.

There are two sections:

1. What People are Saying About blah blah.  Yes, they’re excited about it.

2. How Quickly Will You Make Money?  Quicker than you think – I explain why.  I also touch on the topic of traffic and leads – my dead easy way to get ’em flowing.

Watch it Here

If you haven’t looked already, do it now – go straight to the main presentation.  Here it is:

Direct Access Here (No Opt-In) With No Credit Card

Get into the game with me.  I’ll be here to help ya.

Cheers,

Kim Willis

P.S.  You’ve got a short window of opportunity with this one.  Opportunity favors the daring.  Kick the tires and get your free account here:

 

Direct Access Here (No Opt-In) With No Credit Card

Example 2.  A Linked Story (email)

sideways

Goodness, two stories in a row about alcohol.  But it’s not what you think.  This story is about a movie I watched and loved – called Sideways.  The potent message from this film had a dramatic and adverse effect on the sale of a particular type of red wine, merlot.  So this is a marketing related story which I segued into a business point.

You can easily use this technique.  If you see a good movie or TV show.  Write about it then figure out a way you can link it your business message and offer.

Headline: I’m Not Drinking Any Farcking Merlot!

Body Copy Showing the Crossover:

One of the funniest scenes in the wine obsessed 2004 movie, Sideways, was when wine buff Paul Giamatti uttered the fateful words ‘I’m not drinking any fucking Merlot’, in response to an invitation to drink the vile red stuff.

Yes, I hesitated to include the F word in all its glory but somehow think that to omit it would neuter this little story.

Although the movie was a cult movie the impact those words had on the sale of Merlot was immense.  Sales dropped by more than half within months, and it’s only now, all these years later, that sales have finally recovered.

So what’s the point of this story?

Well, it gives further weight to my recent email when I talked about the power of stories to move people.  Think about it – just six words uttered in jest in a small budget movie, brought an entire industry to its knees.

You can read my blog post on the topic of storytelling here:

How to Engage and Persuade Through Potent Storytelling

Because this is such a vital skill to master, soon I will be commencing work on a new training on this topic.  Look out for it.

Of course, great storytelling is just one of the topics we could cover in my 20 Minutes With Kimbo free consultation offer.

The offer closes in 2 days, no extensions.

Twenty Minutes With Kim

Apply now

Kim Willis

Example 3.  A Linked Story (blog post)

Headline: The Bangkok Blahs (Bored Out Of My Brain In One Of The World’s Most Exciting Cities.)

Body Copy Showing the Crossover to the Business Message:

I’m not going to reproduce the entire post here.  If you want to read the full thing, click here

But before you look at the crossover, I need to set the scene for you:

The early part of the post was about my weekend in Bangkok (I went there for visa renewal reasons).  So I shared the story of how I was in one of the most exciting and hedonistic cities in the world, yet I was bored.

But things changed when I met up with a couple of business friends.  So plug into the story here:

PP - blog post example 600X

Other Examples From Other Bloggers

1). Blogging From Paradise

Ryan Biddulph is a wild and whacky travel blogger.  His stories are not usually ‘everyday stories’, but he is expert at leading with a non-business story, then transitioning to the business side of things.  Here is an example of one of his posts featuring the technique:

How a Colony of Marauding Army Ants Taught Me 4 Blogging Lessons

2).  Peter Beckenham.  Peter Beckenham is a relative newcomer to the world of blogging but already he is making his presence felt.   In the example featured talks about a real life situation that happened to him.  Read this entertaining post here:

OMG! Are You Playing Russian Roulette…

3). Pete Zafra.  Pete Safra sometimes uses the technique based on things he’s watched on tv.  Uncovering story ideas by watching tv is a neat way to do it.   Here is an example:

Conor McGregor Interview: Why You Should Respect Him Even He Drives You Mad

4). Unveil the Web.  Don Purdum is a marketing consultant and helps businesses move their business to the next level.  He is also an active blogger.  The example featured here leads with a business oriented headline, but the story opens with an everyday experience which he then links to a business message.  Here it is:

 Why Digital Marketing is Complex and How You Can Simplify It

How to Get Started

Keep a small notepad in your pocket at all times.  So, if you pick up the kids or do some shopping, and stumble across a story idea, quickly make a note of it (and the relevant details) before you forget about it.

Next, spend 10 minutes before the day has ended, fleshing out your story idea.  A variation of this technique is to record your thoughts into your iPhone or similar device.

It’s important to do this then because you’ll be at your inspirational high point.  If you leave it for a few days or even longer, the inspiration for the story may well be lost.

Please do not underestimate the role of inspiration.  It acts as a spark and can take your content to a higher level.

Next, you can write your headline.  Getting the headline right can be tricky and time-consuming but in essence, your headline needs to be robust enough to compel the reader to take the next step – and read the copy!

Finally, write your post taking particular care to transition effectively from the story itself to your business point.

Although there are exceptions, as a general rule you must satisfy the law of internal logic. That is, you want to demonstrate that the featured story together with the business point/pitch you want to make, stacks up logically.

Good luck with this method – I look forward to reading your stories based on everyday events in your life.  Remember – your life may be small, but small stories are what people love to read.   

Your Turn – Time to Comment!

What was your biggest takeout from this post?

Have you used the ‘small story’ technique yourself?

After reading this post are there any ideas that you will now embrace?

Make a comment below!

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Results matter, so that will be my focus for you – to give you useful ideas you can use straight away.

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24 thoughts on “How to Turn Everyday Events Into Potent Marketing Messages

  1. Everyone loves a good story! However, there is an art to it when blogging or putting out an email. The transition needs to be smooth…I’m still working on that one!

    I like to use stories in my emails and when I do them on my blog, I do get a great reaction. Hmmm Mental note: I have to do more of them lol. A short story pulls in a person, especially if they can identify things like a beer, kids, even the weather. But it always needs to have that lovely transition. Thank you for sharing yours here. I’ve learned a thing or two reading them and you have my wheels spinning in my head. That’s a good thing.

    I don’t think I’ll ever forget the apartment you rented in the back so you can have quiet but then realized it was a karaoke bar. Now that’s memorable! That component in our short stories is one of the most important. Something people can remember us for.

    The biggest problem I usually wrestle with is the headlines. I can write and write, but when it comes to putting a headline on it I usually write about 10 of them before I choose one to publish.

    Thanks so much for this great post….I will be sharing it.

    -Donna

    1. Hey Donna,

      The power of stories – I always remember your story about the blog graveyard. So memorable!!

      Regarding headlines I try and write the headline first, then flow the content from there. That said, sometimes I can’t think of a headline so just write the body copy. During that extended process, the headline idea usually will spring to mind. Like you, I will usually write different headline ideas and pick the one that stands out more than the others.

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Donna

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…How to Turn Everyday Events Into Potent Marketing MessagesMy Profile

  2. Hi Kim,

    Many of my posts are inspired by “challenges” I have overcome in starting my online business, and I like to think that they might help people new to blogging avoid making the same mistake. These are the type of posts I enjoy writing the most because they seem to “flow” more easily.

    I have a notebook near my bed for night inspirations, or If I’m near the PC when an idea strikes I write some notes in a quick WordPress draft post. Sometimes I have as many as half a dozen of these lined up for the inevitable times when I can’t think what to write about.

    I like Pete Zafra’s idea about using the TV as a source of ideas, not that I watch a lot of TV, but the more sources of content the better.

    Thanks for some great examples of how to use this technique,

    Joy – Blogging After Dark
    Joy Healey recently posted…Easter Break And A New BeginningMy Profile

  3. Hi Kim,

    I’ve no idea why you’d do this; linking every day events into powerful marketing messages? Definitely filler material…..LOL!

    This is my life, my brand, the Blogging from Paradise way. Thanks so much for the mention, BTW 😉

    I have zany travel stories to share – on Easter Sunday I warmed folk’s cockles with a tale of how a punch drunk Nica rebuffed me when I offered to buy him an orange, as we went on an odyssey for cigarettes and beer, even after I insisted 142 times that I did not smoke or drink, him drooling, staring vacantly, and me speaking non-sequitir Spanish – but I could dissect almost any event of my life from when I was 4 years old till now, and message it.

    It’s easy for me, because I just watch, and relate. Could talk about my pier guard days and marketing lessons or inside sales days. And these stories are powerful! Because every single human being can relate to a multitude of more common stories, and many want to either live vicariously through some guy with hair like a chia pet’s stories, or perhaps they wish to blog from the tropics like he does.

    Man, this post is just dead on Kim. Brilliant. And you win a headline for the year from the Phnom Penh episode, love it! I recall getting my haircut for $2 in a less crazy spot, but it was still hyper colorful.

    If you want to re-write/rehash the Phnom Penh post or write a new colorful travel tale linked to marketing or blogging, please feel free to send it my way for a guest post on BFP. The community would LOVE it.

    Ryan

    1. Ha ha. You make me smile, Ryan. You and your crazy adventures. But you’re right – people love your kind of stories because they can indeed live vicariously through you, without raising a sweat.

      I like the point you make about ‘watch and relate’ Spot on brother. We don’t necessarily need to participate in a given activity, we can simply observe, come up with an angle, then tell the story.

      Thanks for the guest post offer – I will take you up on that

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…How to Turn Everyday Events Into Potent Marketing MessagesMy Profile

  4. Hi Kim,

    Real life stories are the things that make our blogs come to life! It’s what creates relevancy, interest and relates to people.

    I love this line in your article: “it’s important that you involve readers in your life.”

    Now that I’m starting to get back into the offline world more through conferences and shows I’m combining the two worlds together.

    There are messages EVERYWHERE!!! We just have to be open to them.

    I many times will audio record myself a message on my iPhone or I’ll make a note on it. I have so many ideas and experiences I want to share.

    What’s really cool is that you can include others in it along the way and that creates a whole, higher level of personal touch.

    You do a great job Kim of sharing your experiences as well and in so doing you are teaching all of us how to be better bloggers as well!!!!

    Thanks so much for the kind mention in your article. It’s very, very appreciated!!!!!

    Have a great week Kim!

    ~ Don Purdum
    Don Purdum recently posted…How To Build a Valuable Website that is ProfitableMy Profile

  5. Another excellent job Kim!

    And you are so right, about the effective use of good storytelling.

    It just seems to grab at our heart strings and other emotions, and
    causes us to get in gear.

    Thanks for sharing that extremely powerful example about six seemingly
    inconsequential words, dramatically affecting an entire industry!

    Who would have thought, such power existed in a low budget film!

    And I really love and appreciate your examples. I’ve definitely
    got to add this powerful marketing tool, to my long term marketing plans!Thanks!
    Mark recently posted…How And Why Savvy Small Business Owners Constantly Seek To Eliminate Costly Middle Man Expenses!My Profile

  6. Hey Kim!

    I knew the moment I read the title that Ryan would be mentioned somewhere in this article. I swear he can pull lessons from anything hahaha.

    Anyway I like the idea because quite often these are things we can all relate to. As you said we don’t need something incredibly extraordinary to tell. And it’s little things like this that work well not only to demonstrate points, but to make them memorable. I guarantee I’ll remember the little stories you’ve shared with us even here in this post.

    – James McAllister
    James McAllister recently posted…Your Power Base – Why You Need It, How To Build It, And How To Use ItMy Profile

    1. Yeah you’re right James,

      We always remember the stories long after the facts and figures have been long forgotten.

      Ryan is a master of using this technique, no doubt fueled by his inspiring adventures. That said, even stick in the mud lounge lizards can come up with great story ideas by simply watching tv.

      Thanks James

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…How to Turn Everyday Events Into Potent Marketing MessagesMy Profile

  7. Hey Kim,

    I have to agree with you about this now, weaving stories into your content or emails is just much more inviting, entertaining and gets our attention. As you can tell with my posts, I’m trying really hard to do more of that but I still have a very long way to go.

    I wish it came more naturally but then I’m sure some people would say the same thing about my writing. It’s a process though but you really do want to keep your readers attention and keep them hanging on your every word and be interested in what you’re going to share next. For me at least, when it’s not a blatant sales tactic then I’m much more open to it. When they just throw it on me like “buy this” you’ve lost me.

    I love how you’re actually given us examples here and I’m taking notes plus bookmarking this post. When I return I’m going to have to give some of your suggestions a go.

    Thank you Kim and enjoy the rest of your week.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…The Death of My Blog For Now At LeastMy Profile

    1. Hey thanks Adrienne,

      I reckon you’re doing a great job on the storytelling side of things – you’re a natural!

      Including stories in our blog posts works well as you know. I’ve also found it works very well when I use the technique in my emails. Some of my subscribers have been subscribed for more than 5 years because they love the stories.

      Enjoy your sabbatical this month, Adrienne

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…How to Turn Everyday Events Into Potent Marketing MessagesMy Profile

  8. Hello Kim Willis,

    Everyone loves to have, share and read great stories.
    It great to capture the moments around our self and then, put it together,
    in a form of a story.
    Firstly, followed by a headline then the body part.
    But sometimes it seems hard, what headline to give for your story.

    Real life stories are something that brings life’s to our blog.
    People wants to read, about the experience of our daily routines and life.
    The matter is not about the suitable headline and the body part,
    all that the customers demand is of good content, which attracts them.

    Thanks for the share among us.
    Shantanu sinha

  9. Hi Kim

    In my marketing class in University some twenty four years ago our professor told that if we don’t know the art of story telling we should forget about marketing communication and just try to be a sales person on a shoes shop. Alas we didn’t take it seriously then and now I realized what a big lesson that was.

    The posts of other bloggers you referred here I already read them and do say they guys very skilfully blend a daily life event into their post and make it a memorable one.

    The topics and posts you referred also have strong message in them and while having a glance on it one can understand how an element of interest could be created in a dry topic by sprinkling a little salt of a daily life event to grab the readers attention.

    On my blog I shared a few post with a real life story with some veil to hide the personal identity of those who I was referring in my posts and I got amazing response on all such posts.

    Many thanks for sharing this lovely post that has a lot of food for thought make the marketing message stronger with putting every day events into them.

    Have a great rest of the week.
    Mi Muba recently posted…How to turn your flop product into a best seller?My Profile

    1. Hi Mi Muba

      Thanks for your sweet comment

      It looks like your teacher at the university knew his stuff – he gave the students some very sharp advice.

      Stories about everyday life events can work well, providing we spice them up a bit to make them enjoyable. That gets people’s attention and will hopefully keep them riveted till they get to your business message and offer.

      Of course, that is only storytelling strategy. There are many others. But the point is that people love stories – after all, they’ve been consuming them all their lives.

      Thanks again!

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…Business Posture: How to Play the Posture Game and Crush Your CompetitorsMy Profile

  10. Hi Kim,
    I completely missed this awesome post and no I’m not going to create a story just to make up for that.

    Your story-telling skills are becoming famous my man and I love how you can segue from some of the most incredible everyday situations into a marketing message that just seems to fit the occasion.

    You’re right that here are messages everywhere around us and we should never discount what to us may be a relatively normal event as for others it can be an enthralling adventure.

    I remember sharing a story about a cobra snake that had slithered into our front yard only to be accosted by our 2 dogs who quickly dispensed of the danger. This has happened so many times as we live on the edge of a remote Thai village. On this occasion, I shared the story with the focus on the “teamwork” shown by our 2 dogs and linked into the importance of working closely as a team in the network marketing industry.

    Oops, I couldn’t resist. Just had to add my short story bit as well.

    Awesome stuff Kim – a truly enjoyable post and many thanks for the mention.

    Best wishes from the remote Thai village marketer

    Peter
    Peter Beckenham recently posted…Email Marketing Hacks – Top 9 Trends for 2016My Profile

    1. Hi Peter

      Thanks for your awesome comment. Not to mention your story. Once a storyteller always a story teller, eh?

      Essentially what we’re doing is creating parables – a story to illustrate a core point. It works so well because people love stories, and when they devour a story they become open to a more serious message or lesson.

      Using the everyday events technique we add in one extra feature – relatability.

      Gotta love it

      Thanks Peter

      From a Grimey, Dusty City, Somewhere in Cambodia

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…Why Your Business Blog Isn’t Working and What You Can Do About ItMy Profile

  11. Haha,

    I already commented on this one, but came across it again and it happened to be particularly relevant to me today .

    Something happened in my offline business that really upset me, but a chat with my son showed me the opportunity in the situation. And it helps all the more that he and his wife are on their way to add their collective shoulders to the wheel.

    AND – I saw the marketing message behind it too – AND a blog post is already forming in my head

    The Merlot story reminded me of an incident in the UK when Gerald Ratner wiped £500 million from the value of his stores with one speech. In the UK this was so “big” that it’s ever since been known as ‘Doing a Ratner’. Google that, or “Gerald Ratner quote” and see if you can find it. (You might have to add UK, if you’re not in the UK.)

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

    1. Hi Joy, I found the quote

      He said: “We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap.”

      He added that his stores’ earrings were “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long”. Funny quote, that. (He must have been drunk at the time.)

      Happy you saw the marketing message behind your offline challenge this week. Bring on your blog post!

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…Why Your Business Blog Isn’t Working and What You Can Do About ItMy Profile

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