Copywriting for Dummies: How This Stupid Story Sold Millions of Dollars of Dog Training
This is a guest post on copywriting for dummies by Ty Brown. Ty tripled his business in two and a half years using stories and storytelling. Now he speaks, writes, coaches, and consults with other businesses on how to do the same.
In a moment, you’ll hear about a stupid story that has helped me sell millions of dollars in dog training (and, how you’ve probably got a stupid story just like it that you can use to sell your products and services via email).
But first, I want to talk about copywriting overwhelm and how to avoid it.
Whether you’re an aspiring copywriter or a business owner writing copy for your own business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and even scared when writing sales letters, emails, and more. If you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of copywriting, even a bit, you know that there are scores of copywriting gurus teaching thousands of techniques.
When you’re sitting down to write that copy you’re trying to make sure you’re following the advice of Guru A who told you to write your headline one way while simultaneously trying to follow Guru B who told you to that your opening paragraph should contain these secret elements.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an article to guru-bash or to encourage you to not use solid techniques.
On the contrary, be a student of the art. Be a tireless investigator of the science. Learn the fundamentals, form a foundation, and practice to continue honing your craft.
But don’t fall into the trap of ‘analysis paralysis’ where you hold back on your copywriting because you haven’t read the latest book or handwritten 500 pages of swipe files.
Because when all is said and done, what is the purpose of your copy?
Put simply, the purpose of your copy is to take them to the next step (if that isn’t “copywriting for dummies”, I don’t know what is…).
The next step may be a sale, a lead, engagement, or just a click.
But that’s all that your copy needs to do in order to be effective.
And sometimes, all it takes is telling a stupid story.
I guess you could say this is copywriting for dummies.
It’s not a shortcut.
It’s not cheating.
But my method for storytelling allows you to cut to the front of the line when it comes to getting response from your copy without having studied the greats of copywriting for years on end.
If we can agree that the purpose of any copy is to take someone to the next step of your process, I submit that one of the best ways to do that is to get someone to emotionally engage with you.
There is so much competition for your prospect’s emotional energy these days.
Notice I didn’t say time.
People make time for what they care about.
But that’s the key. They need to care.
And make no mistake. They need to care on even the smallest levels.
They need to care enough to scroll down to read an additional line.
They need to care enough to read even a portion of what you wrote. Or to click on a link.
These are all TINY emotional decisions.
But when asked to make so many decisions a day there is only so much emotional capital that someone can spend.
And you’re asking them to spend it on YOUR stuff.
They have to care.
If I’m going to get someone to care then I like to tell them a story.
And this is where you can cut to the front of the line.
Because you don’t have to be a master copywriter to write a story from your life. Yet that very story could be HUGE for capturing someone’s ability to care, leading to much higher conversions.
Stories have so much ability to bring people in, gain their interest, engender trust, and garner likability.
And that’s why, years ago, I started telling people stories in my emails. Long stories, actually.
When I wrote copy for people’s websites I started telling the story about how the service came to be, the story of why the product is so cool. I’d write 1000 words for a service description page of a website and most of it would be just some story about the founder.
And in telling these stories I found my conversions increased.
In fact, in my own dog training business we went from a $300,000 company to a million dollar company in two years from nothing more than storytelling in our copy and emails.
Is there a trick?
You can’t bore your prospects.
And you must let them know who you are.
Each week I tell my email list some story from my life. Often these are funny stories because I like to think I’m funny.
Sometimes they are sad or more dramatic.
But I open up. I tell them about stupid things I’ve done. Failures. Miscues.
I talk about random successes, childhood hijinks, and office drama.
The overwhelming majority of my stories have NOTHING to do with the dog training I’m trying to sell. And that includes my multi-million dollar story that I’ll tell you about in a moment.
They are simply stories that have a message that I can relate back to my prospect’s dogs and then make simple offers.
I’m not a master of headlines. I’m not a guru of making the perfect call to action. I’m not a specialist of formatting an email or sales page to get the highest conversions.
I’m simply a regular dude that ends up in their browser or inbox with stories that are fun to read and offers that are helpful for their lives.
Simply enough, right?
It’s easy enough that even a dummy like me can do it.
You may still be wondering what story could have possibly sold me millions of dollars of dog training over the last two years?
It’s the first story I ever told to my list. And it was such a hit that I put it in the beginning of my autoresponder series.
It’s now been read by thousands of people. It gets them going on my list right away and makes them like me. All the time people tell me how funny it was and how that got them interested in going to the next step with me.
Which is interesting, because while I’m in the dog training business…
…this story has NOTHING to do with dogs.
But it makes people laugh and they remember me. And once they’ve read a few more of these stories they want to work with us.
Simple as that.
I’ll close this article by copying and pasting this story for you to read. And I do so hoping you laugh at my vulnerability. But also hoping that you smack yourself over the head and say, “This is so stupid! This sold him millions worth of dog training?? Even I could do something like this!’
Now go out and execute.
Here’s my stupid simple “copywriting for dummies” story that sold millions of dollars of dog training… despite not having anything to do with dogs:
Back when I was about 16 years old I’d frequently head just out of town to an old bridge with my friends during the summer months. This old bridge spanned a lazy river that was deep enough to jump into without killing yourself when things got really hot during summer vacation.
It was rumored this old bridge was in an old Burt Reynolds film. It was the type of movie where Burt was running from the law in a muscle car and during one scene he sped right over a bridge that sure looked a lot like our bridge. I never knew if it was the same bridge but it made for a cool story to tell people that this is where the Bandit had done his driving.
Our bridge had a tower built right next to it. It was long since abandoned but it had previously been the tower where the operator would raise or lower the bridge in the days when our lazy river was a busier channel.
The drop to the water from the bridge was probably about 30 feet and that was high enough. It took a lot of pumping up for someone to get the guts to jump off that bridge. The tower loomed probably 15 feet higher than the bridge so none of us, definitely, had the guts to take the plunge from there.
Not only that, it was a very tricky climb to get to the top of the tower. You had to traverse some barbed wire, cling this this tiny little ledge, and hoist yourself with all your might to make it to the top. From our vantage point below it was fairly evident that once you got up there the only way down would be to jump. There would be no climbing down. And jump you’d have to do. From the bridge you could simply fall off and hit the water. From the tower, though, you’d have to leap to avoid the bank.
In spite of the terror we had for the tower I remember one summer afternoon where my friend, Ryan, and I decided to go for it.
It took about twenty minutes of climbing and pausing, climbing and pausing before we even reached the top of the tower. Once there, however, we freaked out!
While the bridge sure seemed high this felt as if it were a mountain. Looking down we knew the normal psyching ourselves out wasn’t going to work. We still tried it, though. For an hour we stayed atop the tower and tried to build the nerve to jump.
It didn’t happen.
Another half hour passed. Still nothing.
When we came upon two hours of being on top of the tower it started to get dark. We had four or five other friends down below who were getting restless. They wanted to go home and they were our rides.
We knew we had to do something.
Someone down below offered to call the fire department to bring out the ladders. Well, we weren’t supposed to be up there in the first place. There was no way we wanted the fire department to show up and escort us to the police station.
It was at that moment that I had a….uh….bright idea.
Standing at the edge of the tower I took off my shorts and threw them in the river.
It was at this moment that I was faced with a very quick decision. While lazy, our river was definitely moving. And with it my pants were floating away. Not only that, they were sinking as they did.
I recognized, pretty darn quick, that if I didn’t jump in and get those pants that not only would the fire department come to get me down but they’d find me naked.
The terror of that proposition compelled me to action.
I jumped in, swam to my shorts, and was relieved to be off that tower and in possession of my swimsuit.
Moments later another pair of shorts hit the river’s surface and Ryan came splashing in after them.
It worked. I couldn’t believe it.
Now, folks, I know that many of you are in this same position with your dogs.
You are in a position where you feel like you’ve tried every option to get your dog’s behavior under control. You’ve read books and watched YouTube videos.
You may have even hired other trainers and failed.
You’re standing atop the tower looking at the prospect of something unknown and scary. But you have no idea how to avoid that fear.
We can help.
We’ve been voted the best dog training company in Utah seven times by Best of State.
Whatever you’re dealing with, I guarantee you we’ve seen it numerous times and helped fix it.
We can do the same for you. And we can even guarantee it.
That’s the story, folks!
And it’s contributed to millions in sales. Seriously.
Now it’s your turn.
This is a copywriting for dummies guest post by Ty Brown. Ty tripled his business in two and a half years using stories and storytelling. Now he speaks, writes, coaches, and consults with other businesses on how to do the same. Find him at Ty the Speaker.