3.4 - Stories Are Change - Own Your Distortion

It is easy to think of stories in terms of novels and movies and bingeable TV shows. Stories in copywriting? It’s tough. So tough, modern copywriters like to forget all about the story and hope catchy buzzwords will do the trick.

Others might talk about their “brand story” and do everything they can to get the customer to care about their story. 

Customers likely don’t care about your story. People are selfish, they only care about your story if it somehow speaks to their own experience. When it comes to brand stories, you are not the hero. The hero is your customer, make a story for them.

I’ll dive more into storytelling in Module 4. As you build a story, remember that you are but a thread in the audience’s quilt. Little more than a piece to their puzzle.

When writing copy, a story is powerful because it gives your audience more context to the why of what they are buying. 

There are a million storytelling primers and guides out there. The Hero’s Journey, first published by Joseph Campbell, is the classic architecture used by writers around the world. Dan Harmon’s Story Circle is a simplified version - both work well for copywriters. Here’s an example:


The above is copy for an email of a customer that might have been in the sales funnel for a while. It doesn’t necessarily need to be so long. If you had to go shorter, the general construct can be reduced down to:
  • I had a problem
  • I tried these other solutions
  • Then I found this solution
  • I no longer have the problem

And the same thing could happen to you! 

Dry as toast, but the bones are the same.

Or, even simpler: 

Story is an action that causes change.


That’s it. 

A story only happens if something changes. Not every story needs to slay a dragon. Not every story needs to go from “once upon a time” to “Happily ever after.” Even the smallest changes to a character can be relatable to your audience. 

Bruce Wayne’s parents die(action) and he becomes Batman (change).

A man cheats on his wife (action) and she files for divorce (change, which is also action, which causes more change…).

Or it can be more subtle.

An old man sits on his porch from sunrise to sunset. He does nothing but sit and stare at the street. A year passes. 

Nothing happens. Or...does everything happen?

The change? A year. A year passes. He did a lap around the sun without ever leaving his porch and took a step closer to the grave as a result. That is A LOT of change. 

When writing copy, the story is simple:

The customer doesn’t have my product. They buy it (action). Here is the change.

Embarrassed by dandruff (action)? Wash with Head and Shoulders (change) and wear black with confidence(action)!