How to structure a persuasive story.

Cathy Goodwin
2 min readFeb 5, 2022

Storytelling for business carries very different expectations compared to a novel, movie or chat with a BFF over coffee.

Photo by Zee Shutterz on Pixabay/

A lot of storytelling advice focuses on structure. Some guides suggest the traditional “beginning, middle, and end.” Some turn to movies and novels to address the “arc of the story,” with suspense, emotion, and beats. Or they try the improv “and then one day” style.

Great ideas…they’re just not strategic.

Business owners tell me they have trouble following this advice. Their audiences don’t read a business story the way they read a novel or watch a movie.

If you think about it, you bring different expectations as you read different kinds of books. I’m a dedicated fan of murder mysteries. I expect to encounter a dead body, a detective, and a motivation to wonder whodunit. I don’t expect to discover the murderer till the very end.

You bring different expectations to a memoir, adventure story, or romance novel. Each story uses different ingredients to meet the reader’s expectations.

So why wouldn’t you bring different expectations to a business story compared to a novel, a story you’d tell a good friend over coffee, or a star-studded movie?

Persuasive stories tend to place a spotlight on the way you help your clients. You begin with a crisis. You focus on what happens when the crisis doesn’t get resolved. And you show (not tell) how you contributed to the client’s transformation.

Movies can transport you to faraway places. Business stories encourage you to see yourself in the story. In the best business stories, you might feel the author is reading your mind.

A well-structured persuasive story does a lot of heavy lifting.

You demonstrate your skill. You acknowledge your understanding of where the client is coming from. Your focus remains on the client — not on you.e

They’re designed to show how you help clients. They don’t leave you feeling good. They leave you feeling, “I want what they’re having.”

To gain insights into the client’s mind, I have a free guide you can download right away.

Episode #46 of the Strategic Storytelling Podcast does a deeper dive into the topic.Listen on Apple or listen on Spotify. Or find your favorite platform here.

I’m Dr. Cathy Goodwin, a copywriter, storyteller, and marketing strategist. My clients are small business owners, entrepreneurs, independent professionals, and solopreneurs. I help them become more productive by adding storytelling as a marketing tool.

Download free: 17 Surprising Ways To Use Storytelling To Grow Your Business. If you’d like to strengthen your marketing and your message, the Strategic Intensive helps you find your story and address your toughest marketing challenge.

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Cathy Goodwin

Create a compelling marketing message that attracts your ideal clients through your unique selling story.