When you’re listening to those podcasts where the celebrities of the affiliate marketing world are interviewed, and they’re talking about the million-dollar sales they’re generating for product creators, their 7-figure business deals, industry secrets and conference speaking gigs, it’s easy to forget where those people started. And let me tell you, mate, they weren’t born in a business suit with a check in their pocket for buying web traffic. Nope. No, sir. Just like you and I, they had nothing when they started. Many of them didn’t even have a Facebook account.
So how the heck did they become the heroes of their stories? Well, the answer’s in the question. Many of them used storytelling to hulk up their selling techniques, compensate for small advertising budgets, and you can learn how to do it, too.
First, let’s get a few things straight…
It’s the Neuro Story Net, dummy
I hope you’ll accept my not-so-slight variation of the “It’s the economy, stupid” phrase used by the Clinton campaign for the 1992 US presidential election. To understand what the Neuro Story Net is, you first need to understand how our brains analyse information. They’re predisposed to think in story terms, in a story structure.
The Neuro Story Net is the specific part of the brain analysing info in story form, deciding if something makes sense to it or not. If the analysed info makes sense, we’ll understand it and learn it and then remember it. If our primal Neuro Story Net can’t make sense of it, we’ll zone out, get distracted. The brain won’t want to have anything to do with the info, it will simply disengage.
What this means is that we understand the world through stories. We decide what to remember and what to forget though them. In our industry, storytelling isn’t just a marketing gimmick, it’s the safest bet when we want to make sure people will understand what we’re trying to communicate.
Even if you start your career in affiliate marketing with just a Facebook page, storytelling still counts. If you add a 150-200 word story to your photo posts, they’ll have a wider reach than those with little text. Facebook wants people to share stories.
Stories aren’t just long texts describing adventures. They can take the shape of blog posts, videos, Instagram stories, vlogs, Twitter threads, etc.
How to Tell or Write Stories that Sell Products and Make You Money
You’re a smart cookie, you know why we’re here – to sell stuff and make money. So, you and I both know that we need something more than good stories, we need effective marketing stories.
If we’d be in the book or TV business, entertaining folks would be enough, but we’re in the affiliate marketing business and we only get paid if we manage to sell stuff.
Fortunately, there are two affiliate marketing specific stories we can tell again and again, no matter what sort of product we want to sell:
A) The Founder’s Story
Every product out there has a creator or inventor or at least a product manager to act as our main character. The problem the product solves is the obstacle or the challenge they have to get past
B) The Happy Customer’s Story
This one’s very similar to the one of the founder. For this story, we’d describe the before-the-product phase for setting the scene. As Kindra Hall would call it – the normal. Then we’d have the explosion, this is the disruption created by the product you’re selling. The product creates a new normal which is describing the achieved progress.
You see, Kindra replaced the beginning-middle-end structure of the story with the normal-explosion-new normal structure to help people like us figure out how to tell better stories.
What Differentiates Effective Stories from Ineffective Ones
There are a couple of things storytellers do that separate the best stories from those we don’t even pay attention to, and those things are the following:
#1 Capture attention before the story starts.
Don’t use the beginning of your story to capture people’s attention. You should use preambles like “let me tell you something amazing” or “true story” or “one last thing before I leave” to get people to pay attention. If you’re in a webinar, you can even use people’s names to make them pay attention. A story people don’t pay attention to, no matter how amazing, will be ineffective.
#2 Take the listener/reader on the same emotional journey.
When telling a story in the first person, make the audience take the same emotional journey you did. Talk about your expectations, what you felt, what you knew, what was the lesson learned. Don’t sabotage your own story by offering the audience more info than you had at that point in the story
#3 Make your story relevant to the audience.
The story’s ability to transport people into it is what makes it effective. If the content of the story isn’t relevant, those listening to or reading the story won’t trust the narrative and disengage.
#4 Crank up the mystery and the drama.
You need people to be engaged and the best way to do this is by keeping a constant element of mystery and by exaggerating both the consequences of the actions and the feelings of your characters. You need to raise the stakes so much that even if it’s something as simple as getting a new client it becomes a matter of life and death.
#5 Know why you’re telling/writing the story.
If there’s no difficulty, there’s no solution. You need to know what you want to do with the story because if you want to sell a solution, you need to use the story to make the problem look like the worst problem that ever existed. You know, so the product you’re selling can swoop in and save the day.
2 Solutions for When You Don’t Know How to Start
Maybe you don’t consider yourself to be a storyteller or you don’t even like writing that much. Don’t worry about it. I have two super easy to use templates that I’m sure you’ll enjoy using.
The first one is coming from a company known for fabulous animated stories – Pixar. The Pixar Pitch can be used for many things. In Silicon Valley, startup founders use it to craft their elevator pitch. You can use it to craft founder and happy customer stories to use to sell affiliate products on your blog, Facebook page, or sales page.
The Pixar Pitch
Once upon a time ______1______. Every day, ______2______. One day _____3_______. Because of that, ______4______. Because of that, _____5_______. Until finally ______6______.
1 = describe the status quo
2 = set the context relevant to your audience
3 = describe the major disruption or problem
4 = describe an initial negative effect
5 = describe a secondary negative effect
6 = the solution offered by the product you’re promoting
The second super-useful tool for creating a story to help you sell stuff is the Imagine Technique, that Poornima Vijayashanker thinks it’s great if you don’t have a real story, don’t want to share something personal or something that’s proprietary.
You use it to set a scenario that would give your audience a context that would help them better understand the value of the product you’re promoting.
The Imagine Technique
Imagine (a potential customer’s mission). You just managed to (an achievement or a positive result in the customer’s mission). You’re feeling (how the customer might feel when things go their way). Out of the blue (the worst case scenario the customer could face). Now you’re (the negative impact of the worst case scenario). Well, today I’m going to tell you how to (prevent or solve the problem with the product you’re selling).
How to Prepare for Telling a Story on Video on a Sales Page
When you’re breaking into affiliate marketing, you should go through some training – maybe something like the Super Affiliate Class that is teaching you ethical, non-sleazy strategies and tactics to make money selling affiliate products. This training is meant to show you how even a beginner can make money online with affiliate marketing if you’re following the rules, putting in the right type of effort, and making good decisions. It provides guidance so you wouldn’t make the same mistakes every newbie makes.
The same goes for your first videos to use on sales pages. You need some guidance so you wouldn’t do things to undermine your effectiveness.
So, here’s how a professional storyteller like Karrie Korroch thinks people should prepare for telling a story:
1) Think of your voice
No, not to become more self-conscious than you should be. You need to be aware of your voice and its volume and also how fast you’re talking. What sort of story is your sales message? How much time will you have to pass on your message? Will people understand you clearly? Will you have to talk with a deeper voice so you’d sound more authoritative?
2) Get your content ready
Do you know what you want to talk about? Do you have a list of points you need to make? Are there clear instructions for what those listening should do next?
3) Draw a map of your story
Sum up your story in three circles with an arrow through them on a piece of paper. This can help you remembers how your story starts (circle no. 1), what happens in the middle of the story (circle no. 2), and how the story ends (circle no. 2). Don’t memorize the whole story, you just need to remember the events in it and in what part of the story they’re happening. This will help you be more present when telling the story than if you’d have to remember it word for word or read it out loud.
4) Keep your audience in mind
Will they be familiar with all the terms you’ll use? Will they understand what the story is about? What do you want them to remember after you’re done?
5) Do a trial run before shooting
The more often you tell your story, the easier it will be to capture the best version on video. Rehearse telling the story in front of a mirror, or tell it during one of your webinars or vlogs and see how people react to it.
The four elements of an effective story are engagement, transportation, relevance and influence and if you’ll use the techniques and tips I’ve shared with you, you’ll check all the boxes for a heck of a good story.
Don’t be afraid to experiment, learn what worked for other affiliate marketers and see their case studies. Remember that everybody, including you, has a story to share. Your adventure in the would of affiliate marketing has just begun, and there are so many more exciting things to discover, test out, and use to build the wealth you know you deserve.
I can’t wait to read your inspiring story about how you made your first million in affiliate marketing!