Powerful storytelling
3 min read

Powerful storytelling

Yo! Welcome to the next episode of The Content Strategy Reeder where 3,616 subscribers get better at content creation and strategy in less than 5 minutes.

Today you’re going to learn a powerful type of storytelling.

If used correctly, your content will immediately graduate from good to exceptional.

And it’s OK if you don’t consider yourself a natural storyteller.

With the following framework, you’ll go from novice to expert in minutes.

Even better, you can use this tactic across ALL of your sales and marketing efforts — making them infinitely more relatable and persuasive.

So… what is this powerful style of storytelling?

Well, I’ve already used it twice in this post.

And you’ve seen it a million times before.

Learn to create before and after stories

Before and after stories are incredibly effective for conveying the value of your offer — product, event, sales meeting, ebook, course, etc.

That’s because they focus on benefits.

Most people misstep by describing the offer (product, webinar, event, etc).

For example: This book is easy to read, it’s only 214 pages, and there are interesting data points inside.

That’s about the book.

Instead, describe the tangible outcomes your offer provides.

For example: this book will fast track your career by giving you decades of career advice that you can use immediately to negotiate a raise.

Which sounds most interesting to you?

Next, describe starting point, AKA the Unwanted Current State.

This is where you detail your reader's present problem or state of being for which your offer solves.

Before and after stories are effective because they transport your reader from Unwanted Current State to Desired Future State. This is incredibly important because...

Your goal is to convey contrast

Before and after stories are powerful because they focus on where the transformation between where the journey begins and where it ends.

Remember, people are interested in their Future Desired State more than your content itself. Your content is a means to an end. So focus on the end — specifically, what changed.

Clearly show where your reader is, then detail where your offer will get them.

The larger the gap and the shorter the timeframe, the more intriguing and persuasive the story is.  

Steal this framework

In its simplest form, here’s how to structure your story:

From Point A to Point B.

It’s that simple.

You’ve seen it before:

Diet plans: From 300 pounds to 200 pounds in 12 months.

Invisalign: From crooked teeth to a perfect smile in 8 weeks.

Proactiv: From oily skin to clear skin in weeks.

Notice the pattern of (1) describing the Unwanted Current State then (2) describing the Future Desired State.

It’s not describing the product.

Otherwise it would read:

-From 300 pounds to daily cardio and weight lifting
-From crooked teeth to 24/7 retainers
-From oily skin to a daily ointment regiment

That sounds like work. And people want results. Focus on the latter and you’ll have a powerful and persuasive story.

Now that you have the formula down, let’s go into an advanced example — and one that isn’t pressuring you to become better looking (because FWIW, I think you’re great just the way you are.)

How to use before and after stories in your writing

You can build on the “Point A to Point B” framework by adding detail and specificity.

I intentionally use before and after stories in my welcome email when folks sign up for this newsletter.

My goal was to build anticipation and clearly articulate the value you can expect.

Here’s a blurb. See if you can spot the “before's” and “after's”:

How many did you find?

I labeled them here:

The more detail and specificity you add, the more persuasive your story becomes.

And the more you understand your reader, the easier it is to create the Unwanted Current State and Desired Future State.

TL,DR (Too Long, Don't Remember):

Before and after stories a powerful because they convey contrast, and you can use them to make your offer irresistible.

Use them correctly, and you’ll go from good to outstanding results overnight.

(See, there it is again.)

Holler at you next Saturday,

Did you like this episode of CSR? If so, you’d make me sing “Nuthin’ but a G Thang” by Snoop Dogg if you shared this link with your colleagues or on LinkedIn. Here’s an example from Alvaro Trujillo for inspiration.