How Great Stories capture the imagination of your audience

written by john c ashworth

Great stories capture the imagination of your audience.

Stories that are lame lose credibility fast.  Authenticity rules when it comes to writing your stories.  Authenticity comes from the heart.  It’s a poem you write on a quiet Sunday morning, listening to the birds in your backyard and wondering how you could possibly be so fortunate for everything you have in your life.  How you could have been so brave in the beginning to believe that this was possible for you.  Because that’s where it starts, you see.  With the dream that you can do it.  The dream that stirs inside you like a meadow full of monarch butterflies, flattering you with their presence. Now more than ever, we need to dream.

Great stories take you away.  Made-up or true.  Fiction or non-fiction.  Authenticity and consistency are what matter the most.  Are you achieving this with your stories?  Are you telling your stories at all?  How can you make those stories more scintillating, like an interstellar interloper from another galaxy you can bring a unique and distant blend of the same oxygen, water, and carbon; and at the same time and with those same ingredients, concoct your own unique celestial comet that travels at intergalactic speeds toward a smashing finish where you manifest an inspired reader.

Moral of this story?

Stories sell.

Write and develop more of them for more effective and response-driven marketing and sales.  

You’ll be amazed and surprised what happens when you start to do this and especially when you get it just right.

…and before I go for the day, here are a few more cool and interesting things you should know about stories and how they can help you sell more stuff.

Great stories always make a BIG promise.  A promise that is as bold and audacious as it is authentic.  Your promise is an all or none attempt to garner attention.  To go all-in and take the pot. If you fail even just a little bit here, you’re done.  That person is moving on to the next best promise he or she can find.  Or, just doing nothing at all.

Building trust inside your story is also very important because no one trusts your marketing.  No one trusts you at all until you’ve established credibility and delivered a story that is authentic and that resonates with your audience. 

Working in the car business for four years taught me a lot about the importance of this ingredient in your marketing, sales and stories.  No one trusts a car salesman until the salesman has an opportunity to make a BIG promise, deliver on that promise, and propose, build, and create a story that builds trust and confidence and a sheer willingness on the part of the prospect to buy the car.  No one is being sold.  People are buying things.  And they don’t buy until they’re ready; and being ready requires trust and credibility and emotions that drive people to take action. And as I’ve been saying, you build that foundation with great stories.

The best and most talented marketers and salespeople set the back-drop, produce the play, and gather the audience. They don’t force them to applaud, but instead, allow them the space to make their own personal and emotional judgement about what they have just seen and experienced.  They draw their own conclusion about whether or not they want to applaud you, buy your stuff, and then continue their relationship with you for further purchases down the road.

Before any of this can begin, there exists one more essential universal intergalactic ingredient cardinal to the cause.

First Impressions.

First impressions are formed almost immediately and they set the tone for your entire interaction.  Great stories can happen fast or they can develop over longer periods of time.  Either way, your first impression sets the tone and leads the way to a purchase or a final decision not to trust you and to hold-off on buying your thing for now.

Lastly, great stories can be told in many ways.  Many of them not that fancy.  In fact, it is very important that you remember one more important fact about this production.  Your audience is either ready to listen or not.  When they are, you don’t have to get too fancy, you just have to tell a great story. If they’re not, you need to find a better and more interested audience. Because If they are not yet ready to listen, you will waste lots of time and money and energy running scared and wondering why you’re stories are not working and why your small business is struggling.

It’s OK if your audience is not yet ready to listen.  That’s the first step in the creation of your ultimate sales machine – identifying, cultivating, and priming your own audience.  They are out there.  You just have to get serious about finding them.  And if the people you’re speaking to right now don’t seem to be listening, it’s not their fault. It’s probably just time for you to get to work on this.


PS Keep in mind too that images and great photographs can also tell stories on their own and help you electrify your stories with an irresistible allure. Here are two photographs I’ve taken recently. Each a story on their own, or an opportunity to enhance any other story you might want to tell. Each a personal window into my life and interests and choices. Possibly bringing you that much closer to me and my work in general. Imagine the possibilities…

PPS You can find lots more photographs on the ash flash by clicking here.

[podcast] Where there is Darkness there is Light

john c ashworth podcast

written and produced by john c ashworth

Where there is Darkness there is Light

Join 28 other subscribers

“Here’s the transcript in case you prefer to read it instead.” -John

I’m a writer and so I feel a strong sense almost every single day of my life to get my thoughts down on paper or into my blog, or into one of the many notebooks I now keep in order not to lose track of all of the insights that surround all of us on any given day. Especially in a time of real crisis like the one we’re now facing, I must write.

And yet…

For maybe the first time ever, I have recently found myself unable to sit down and do what I’m doing right now. Just writing…

For some reason, I feel a greater sense of civic responsibility all of the sudden. A greater sense of consideration and reflection about what it is I should share with you during this time. How I should serve. No doubt, the writing and the journaling, whether or not shared with YOU and the rest of the world is important, and yet for some reason, over the last few weeks, I’ve felt an invisible barrier between me and this workshop where I create for the ash flash.

Why is that?

Something I heard this morning on Wisconsin Public Radio helped me begin to put an understanding to this resistance I don’t recognize or like very much at all. Even right now, at this moment, I find myself fighting a great temptation to pull away from this post, so that I can go figure out why I’m getting that ‘your hard drive is full’ message that greeted me this morning as I say down to write to you today.

Usually, that’s not a problem. Usually, the ideas, thoughts, insights, and perspectives I share flow out of me like a mountain river in spring time, dumping it’s stored potential into the tributaries that feed our thirst and ultimately our bodies. In other words, usually, I have plenty to write about, and have no trouble at all simply letting it flow.

I’m happy to be here right now, that’s for sure. It feels good. It feels true. It feels real. The statement I heard on Wisconsin Public Radio this morning was from a fellow writer who asked,

“How do you write about the thing that everyone has experienced – that everyone is experiencing?”

I don’t have an answer to that question. In fact, I don’t even want to think about that question anymore. It served its purpose for me already I think today. It made me feel seen and heard and reinforced many of the thoughts I’m sharing with you now. After all, who cares about my experience? Everyone else is dealing with this very same thing and in very similar ways. Many in much more dire and awful circumstances than I can see in my own future. But really, who knows…?

In addition to that, I don’t want to bombard subscribers with more information or stories related to what we all know now as COVID-19. You really don’t need another set of emails from the ash flash that come to you each time something new is posted, and that might encourage yet another opportunity to over consume all of the news and information about this terrible disease that is impacting EVERYTHING in cathartic and everlasting ways.

You see? Even that last statement has the potential of raising your anxiety levels or increasing your fear factor. I don’t want to contribute to that and at the same time feel compelled to share the things that feel important and inspiring to me as we make our way through this historical pandemic. I simply can’t ignore the colossal impact this pandemic is wreaking on all of us. It’s just too important and in too many ways.

So, here is what I plan to do for now…

First, you will see a new COVID-19 navigation link here on the ash flash some time next week and when you click on that link, you will be taken to a page where I will share links to other pages and posts on the ash flash all of which will be related in some way to stories and information related to the pandemic. In doing this, I can continue to add to this resource for you, and at the same time prevent the inevitably annoying situation where you might receive a half dozen emails from the ash flash in one day, and all of them related to COVID-19. Instead, you will continue to receive announcements in your email box on Tuesdays and Fridays as has been the plan all along for 2020.

Occasionally, you’ll receive up to one extra post per week that is related to the pandemic, but that’s it. Otherwise, I will be updating the COVID-19 page as often as I feel compelled to do, and that way you can decide when and if you want to visit and see what’s new.

Lastly, it is my plan to focus on insights, inspirations, and the opportunity we all have right now to re-consider everything in our lives. Because in every dark moment in our lives, there is always light. During this time of crisis, in spite of all the challenges we are all facing, we also have a unique and fleeting opportunity for real connection. Real change for the better. We have an opportunity to celebrate the true greatness of the American People. The true greatness of the American Spirit. The true greatness of this unique and rare world.

Michael Lewis, author of The 5th Risk, was interviewed on Anderson Cooper’s 360 last night – a surreal experience in and of itself as the entire broadcast was produced with each member of their team working from their own home. Including Anderson, void of the usual jacket and tie, Apple Airpod in his left ear, speaking to us in a more personal way from a more personal place, both physically and intellectually.

Michael Lewis wrote a prophetic book titled “The 5th Risk” that helps us understand the idea that at this moment, what we really have begun to experience is a cathartic shift into a harsh reality where all of the weak points in our society are drastically exposed. Every single one of them. It makes me think of that terrible dream so many of us have had where we have walked into a room and forgotten to put on our clothes. Vulnerable. Afraid. Surprised. Ashamed. You pick the emotions you feel and I’ll pick mine. The real question becomes, ‘How in the world did we get here? And what will we do about it now?

That’s the kind of stuff I plan to cover and write about here on the ash flash for as long as it takes and in addition to my normal posts for business and career success on Tuesdays and inspiration for life on Saturdays.

Today, I will leave you with one more idea that Michael Lewis shared last night and that I’ve been hearing more and more as we wade into this crisis as we might wade into the surf in the middle of December on a cold and stormy beachfront.

In times like this, it is far too easy to become far too selfish. This happens for many reasons. In times of crisis, people become more acutely aware of inequality. This makes sense, of course, as we hunker down and do what it takes to take care of ourselves, our families, our loved ones, our colleagues, our neighbors and our fellow Americans. Because as we do this, we all MUST take a very close look at what it’s going to take to survive financially, spiritually, intellectually, and healthfully. We do need to do this, and at the same time we also need to look for every opportunity we have to contribute to the greater good. To serve. To live in ways in which Mom would be proud. Because selfishness will come back to haunt all of us. In fact, in some ways, it already has.

Thanks for being here. I’m grateful for YOU. Remember, YOU and I both have something amazing and powerful to bring to this world. Now is the time we need it.


Join 28 other subscribers

Want to feel good? Sleep MORE…

written by john c ashworth

I’m sitting here at my desk and wondering why in the world I feel so good today; and then it occurs to me…I got a lot of sleep last night 🙂

Sounds a little silly when I say it out loud, but that’s the truth and that’s why SLEEP is one of my three words for the year.

I know we all struggle with this, and that we all have good logical reasons why we struggle to get MORE sleep. Life is busy, especially for parents like Laura and I. Parents who work full-time and more, and who are devoted to providing our kids the kind of opportunities in life that should not be taken for granted. Sometimes you have to give up a little sleep to make all that happen.

But there are plenty of other times when sleep becomes elusive as a result of bad habits or loose organization in the evenings. I find that when I commit to it and make it a priority and focus my evening on turning out the lights at a certain specific time, that I can make it all happen a lot more often.

Sleep more this year. You’ll probably live longer, but more importantly, it won’t feel longer 🙂