22 One-Sentence Stories That Will Emotionally Charge Your Marketing

by 5 01/11/2013

This might surprise you.

If you’ve been involved in marketing for any length of time you know that stories sell.

But the most important stories are not the stories you tell about yourself, your company and/or your product or service (though they are important).

It’s the stories going on inside the heads of your customers and prospects. The ones they’re telling themselves that…

…affect how they view the world.

…form the image of who they want to be.

…influence the decisions they make on a daily basis.

One of my favorite places for getting insights into these stories is onesentence.org. It’s a website where people share true stories from their lives in just one sentence.

The stories cover a range of emotional hot buttons…love, hatred, anger, fear, hope, embarrassment, betrayal, joy and more. And the most powerful stories bundle a few of these emotions into one sentence.

Onesentence.org is also a great place to see how much can be said in so few words. If you’re struggling to come up with an emotionally charged AdWords ad, headline, bullet, etc., this site can provide a lot of inspiration.

Here are 22 particularly powerful one sentence stories shared on the site…

“Today you shaved your hair into a mohawk to make my mom laugh over losing hers to chemo and today I realized that you are my hero.”

“My atheist neighbor has helped more people in the past year than my entire congregation has in the past ten.”

“I loved everything about her, so I introduced her to all my friends, and they loved her too, so she slept with all of them. “

“My ex-husband chose to divorce me via text message.”

“My wedding cost $6700 and my divorce cost $16425, both were worth it.”

“One busted ceiling, one surgery, $2,000, four days of tube feeding and five nights on my bed later: my cat is safe.”

“I put away the razors again.”

“Every time I look at our baby boy, I am reminded of how much I don’t want to do this.”

“I find fictional characters to be better than real people because fictional characters are whatever I want them to be.”

“Today I washed my mother’s hair for the first time.”

“I don’t really want to be an engineer but I REALLY don’t want to be a failure to my parents.”

“I threw away an opportunity because I was scared, now I’m scared I will never have an opportunity.”

“I am heart-sick because, like many parents of children with profound disabilities, my most secret and unspoken prayer is “Dear God, please let me outlive my child.”

“We had a lovely day, my oldest son and I, wine tasting and driving through the foothills to celebrate his birthday, only because I did not tell him that just the previous day I was diagnosed with cancer.”

“I traveled around the world for a year and only felt lost once I arrived “home.”

“All the skills I acquired as a violent boy have made me a helpless man.”

“It’s easy to make fun of the 26-year-old girl who is afraid of fireworks until you find out that it’s not the fireworks themselves but the sounds that remind her of gunshots.”

“In almost three years of not seeing her, I’ve swallowed oceans of booze, smoked cartons of cigarettes, slept with a dozen different women, been arrested twice, found God, fired God, and nearly died at the hands of five angry men; and I still can’t get over her.”

“One of the worst feelings in the world is when you realize you weren’t really paranoid after all.”

“In just those four words written on a brightly glowing computer screen, I realized that I’d lost the ability to trust anybody ever again.”

“She’s ruined half of my music library for me.”

Wow!

Now, it’s not so much the specifics of the stories above that are important. It’s the emotions they represent. It’s the questions they answer about people including…

Who are their heroes? Who do they identify with and want to be more like?

Who are their enemies? Who or what do they hate?

What recognition are they not receiving that they desire and think they deserve?

Do they yearn for someone, or something, from their childhood that’s currently missing from their lives?

How have they been hurt or wronged in some way?

What stereotypes do they have?

What are the TV shows, movies, books, etc. do they most closely identify with? Why?

What deep secrets are they hiding that they dare not speak and feel guilty about?

What mistakes in judgments have they made that they regret?

Most of your competitors use boring, bland jargon and empty hype devoid of emotion to try to sell their products and services.

If you want to supercharge your marketing, however, you should be able to answer the questions above for your customers. Because when your customers feel that you’re talking to them on a deep emotional level and understand their hopes, fears, and desires better than the competition, you’re gonna get the sale.

I don’t know who said it first, but it’s true…

“He who knows his customers best, wins.”

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About 

Adam Kreitman coaches business owners on how to make their websites more compelling to their prospects.. and to Google. He owns Words That Click, a firm specializing in Conversion Optimization and managing Google AdWords campaigns for small businesses.Follow him on Google+

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5 COMMENTS

Pete

Nice post, very thought provoking.

January 12, 2013 Reply

Cathy

Great lead-in but was expecting real-life examples of customer’s one-sentence stories–feelings, emotions, memories, desires, needs– and how they could be related to products and services. How answers to those somewhat deep questions would be applied in marketing a business, developing or promoting a product, or improving customer service and relationship. Thanks.

January 14, 2013 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Hi Cathy,
    Thanks for the feedback. Adam and I thought about going that route with this article but we felt that the one-sentence stories were more powerful when we let them stand on their own. We felt that providing analysis and recommended application after each one might actually detract from the universal nature of these feelings, emotions, memories, desires, needs.

    Thanks again for sharing your expectations! It helps us guide our editorial decisions in the future.

    January 15, 2013 Reply

Vicki Hitzges

Your post made me cry – exactly what you intended. But I, too, would love to see how you’d apply this principle in marketing. Thanks for sharing!

February 3, 2013 Reply

Christine Page

LOVE!

March 14, 2013 Reply


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