The Awesome Power of Seemingly Pointless Stories

Some people tell you a story always needs to have a point, but I disagree.

Sometimes, you tell a story with no other purpose than bonding with your audience.

For instance, here’s a snippet from the newsletter of Gary Halbert, perhaps the greatest copywriter who ever lived:

A few days ago, after finishing my workout, I went to a small diner and ate three steak sandwiches.  After that, I was overcome with the desire to hurt somebody.  I mean bloody their nose, blacken their eyes and kick them in the balls.

You ever have that happen to you?  You ever became enraged for no reason whatsoever?  I decided it would be a good idea to pound on the young musclehead a few feet away from me in the diner.  Then, it hit me.  I suddenly realized that if I went after him, the bastard would probably fight back!

I hate that part.  When they fight back.  I’d truly kick a lot of ass if I could find a steady supply of people who wouldn’t fight back.

Oh well.  My mood instantly evaporated.  I gave the musclehead a friendly greeting, tipped the waitress and left the restaurant with no broken bones or bruises.

What was that all about?  I really don’t know.  I haven’t a clue why that sudden rage overcame me.  Plus, I don ‘t have a clue why I’m writing about it.

So, I’ll stop.  I’ll go off on another tangent.

Hilarious, right?

Now, here’s the shocker…

Gary wasn’t writing to a bunch of juiced up jocks or martial arts fanatics. He wrote a marketing newsletter targeting business executives.

And yet he’s talking about wanting to pick a fight with random strangers!

There’s no moral to the story. He doesn’t somehow tie it back to a business lesson.

But here’s the thing…

Most business executives are men. And most men with a decent supply of testosterone will relate to the occasional, random desire to jump up and start a fight for no reason. Fortunately, they change their minds, just like Gary did, but those feelings of anger and impotence don’t go away. Worse, most men don’t have the verbal skill or courage to talk about how they feel.

So, what happens when Gary tells a story describing exactly how they feel, putting it into words better than they ever could?

He makes them feel understood.

Down deep, I think the strongest desire all audiences have is to find someone who deeply and truly understands their worldview and who can communicate better than they can. Doesn’t matter if they are business executives, stay-at-home moms, or political activists. If you can communicate the things they feel but cannot express, you own them. Forever.

So, ask yourself…

What have you experienced that your reader has also experienced but cannot put into words?

Make a list of those stories. Make a point of telling them whenever you need to create a bond with the reader.

Oh, and if you’ve never heard of Gary Halbert, you should be ashamed of yourself. Click here for a free archive of all his newsletters, and then read through them all, starting at the end and work your way up. Study them.

Gary was one of the most gifted writers to ever put a pen to paper. I never knew him, but I cried when he died in 2007. No copywriter currently alive comes anywhere close to his talent.

Rest in peace, Gary. You were crazy, but I think you were also smarter than us all.

About the Author: Jon Morrow has repeatedly asked to be called His Royal Awesomeness, but nobody listens to him, so he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger. Poor man. 😉

P.S.: What do you think of short posts like this? Want to see one every now and again? Leave me a comment, and let me know.