Can you write a post that keeps your readers entertained, tells them more about you AND sells?
I’ll cut straight to the chase here- yes you can- and here’s the 3 step formula:
Want to see how it’s done?
Then let me give you a demonstration:
Come back with me to March of this year. I’m staying with an old friend in the nations’ capital, an area known for having plenty of bike paths. I take full advantage of this one day and set off on my friends’ bike, riding along the paths and through the leafy suburbs. It’s a lovely Autumn day outside and I have plenty of energy- so much that I keep riding until I cross the border and enter the neighbouring town of Queanbeyan. I take a breather at Seiffert Oval and watch a bit of an inter-schools footy game taking place there. After a while, I saddle up again, for the return leg back into the heart of Canberra. I look forward to riding back, getting something to eat, grabbing a drink and then relaxing at my friends’ house the rest of the afternoon until he returns from work. I’ve secured two client projects in the past 2 days, it’s a beautiful day outside, I’ve gone on a long ride and managed to take some great photos. It’s one of those days where it feels like everything is going your way.
And then I coast down a hill, under a railway bridge and back across the border…
But up ahead, there’s no verge on the side of the road for about 30 metres- just the edge line of the road and then grass. Beyond that, a bridge crosses a creek with a pedestrian walkway on my side. So I do the safest thing- veer off the road and onto the grass shoulder as cars pass by. I reach the bridge, ride over the creek and up the hill beyond that. Then, at an intersection, I pull up and the bike feels a bit ‘springy’- was there a leak in one of the tyres?
I look down- to discover both the front AND back tyres are covered in thorns. Thorns so big and sharp I prick my fingers pulling them all out, as they leave another hissing puncture in their place. Clearly, that 30 metre patch of dry grass just back down the hill was full of these thorns- and now they’ve decimated both tyres. I’m surrounded by remote paddocks and bushland, with nobody in sight. In front of me lies a long, upward stretch of road…
It sinks in: my only option is to dismount and push the bike along. My day has gone from awesome to a complete disaster in less than 30 seconds, thanks to a 30 metre patch of grass. That’s all it took to bring my whole afternoon (and a round-trip of over 20 kilometres) crashing down.
I push the bike along the side of this lonely road, as the sun bears down. I search on my phone for the nearest bike stores and call the closest Big W and K-Mart to find out if they have inner tubes in the size I need? As the crow flies, I’m about 4 kilometres away from the closest bike store- except that Canberra Airport is in the way. There’s no chance of me taking a short-cut through there, not even if I wanted to!
Instead, I have to go the long way around the airport perimeter road- on foot- pushing this bike- until finally, I got to the Majura Park Shopping Centre, wheeling the bike in and picking up new inner tubes at the Big W. I walk up to Toys R Us. Did they fit tyres? There’s a guy who does, but he’s not in today. Apparently, there’s a bike store on the other side of Costco. Great! So I wheel my bike back up through the shopping mall to the other end, out through the car park, past the Costco outlet and then find the bike store on the other side- the farthest store in a strip of shops. I wheel the bike in. Can they replace the tubes and pump them up?
Can do- except for two things:
- The inner tubes are too small- I had 20” (based off the bike frame saying it was 18.5”) and apparently needed to grab 26” tubing;
- The tyres were too damaged from the thorns, pricks still lodged halfway through them that’d only puncture the new inner tube.
So I leave my bike there, walk all the way back, past Costco, into the shopping centre and right down near the end to replace the inner tubes AND hopefully buy two tyres cheaper than the cheapest suitable tyres in the bike shop (at $35 a piece). I find the inner tube and two 26” tyres for $20 each- then walk back through the centre all the way to the other end, back through the carpark, past Costco and into the bike store. I try my hand at getting the front tyre off but after nearly 10 minutes struggling I give up and let the guy there take care of it. ..
Half an hour, 2 new inner tubes, 2 new tyres, 2 hours wasted, sunburnt arms and nearly $70 later (for a bike that’s not even mine), I got out of there at last. What a day! If I’d only walked the bike along the very edge of the asphalt on that road…how different it all would’ve turned out!
Let’s skip forward now, 6 months later. I’m visiting my friend again. This time I take my own bike down. Monday comes, I decide to go for a ride. It’s a clear, cool day outside, the trees are skeletal and the air is bracing- the end of Winter. I take the same route out through the suburbs, across the border and through Queanbeyan. Determined to make this time different, I coast along the same downhill street and turn right at the intersection onto the main road. Under the rail bridge, back into NSW and up ahead- there’s that 30 metre section of road with no verge.
Brakes on, my bike rattles to a standstill…
I hop off as I come to the grass…
I walk along the shoulder, the yellowing grass crunching beneath my Nikes as I carefully wheel the tyres of my bike along the white outside line of the road. Cars or trucks passing may have to slow down and hug the centre line. People could beep and yell at me to move off the road- I don’t care. They can wait…
I make it past the grass shoulder and onto the bridge. I stop and carefully examine both my tyres. In the front, there’s a single thorn…but it’s only surface level deep. I pick it out, no trouble. The soles of my shoes, though? They’re dotted with thorns, lodged deep in the rubber. I use the bottle opener from my Wallet Ninja to scrape them all off- making sure to do so behind my bike. I then look down the hill, past the bridge and back to that same patch of grass that ruined my day, 6 months earlier.
But not this time.
I hop back in the saddle, pedal away and click up through the gears. I feel more elated than I expected to. Sailing along (on fully-inflated tyres), I think of this scene from the Disney classic Toy Story. Skip to the 50-second mark:
Reaching that 30 metre strip of grass was like “The part where we blow up”…
Clearing it- and seeing my tyres unscathed, felt like my “Not today!” moment.
And I’m not going to lie- as I rode along that country road at top speed, I even had the triumphant musical score playing in my head!
The thing I love about Toy Story, as an adult, is that it’s really a story about learning to accept change, accept who you are, recognise your purpose and become the best version of yourself that’s possible. Buzz Lightyear touches down as the new toy on the block and truly believes he is a space ranger, sent to protect the galaxy. He’s convinced his lasers work and that he can fly. Then (through a series of misadventures) he finds himself with Woody, trapped in the house of the neighbourhood bully. While hiding from the bully’s ferocious dog, Buzz inadvertently stumbles into a darkened room, where a blaring TV ad shatters Buzz’s illusion- it’s an ad for Buzz Lightyear action figures and it reveals the harsh truths:
- Buzz is not a space ranger. He is an action figure
- Buzz is “Not a flying toy”
- Buzz is not one of a kind- the local toy outlet literally has an entire wall stocked with Buzz Lightyear action figures, just like him
What happens next is actually quite sombre: Buzz throws himself off a stair railing, aiming to fly out of a window and prove to himself that he can fly- but instead, he falls and clatters down the stairs into the landing, losing an arm in the process. Just then, the bully’s younger sister finds him and when we next see Buzz, she’s got him sat around a table in a floral hat with a frilly apron on, having a tea party with her dolls. When Woody finds Buzz, he’s shattered. As Woody drags him out of the room, Buzz’s mannerisms and speech resemble a drunkard. He’s just like the people you see in bars, drinking away their sorrows as they lament what could’ve been-
He could’ve represented Australia- but then came the injury…
They could’ve been the perfect couple- but then she discovered he was cheating…
Like Buzz, these people invested their entire identity in something that fell apart- and now alcohol is how they take solace, despondent with the world.
Buzz gives up on wanting to escape and find Andy (their owner) because he doesn’t see the point? In the eyes of Buzz, “he’s just a stupid, insignificant toy”. But then Woody points out that:
“Over in (Andy’s house) is a kid who thinks you are the greatest- and it’s not because you’re a space ranger, pal. It’s because…you are HIS toy…Why wouldn’t Andy want you? Look at you! You glow in the dark- you talk! Your helmet does that…that…woosh thing- any other toy would give up his moving parts just to be you! You are one cool toy.”
Woody’s words sink in for Buzz, and together they manage to escape being blown up by the neighbourhood bully and fly (sorry, fall with style) right back into Andy’s clutches. This couldn’t have happened without Buzz accepting his true self- and using it to full advantage. If that didn’t happen, they wouldn’t have been reunited with Andy at all…
For my 30th birthday, I actually got a Buzz action figure to stand in one of my display cabinets- complete with space wings and a helmet that does the whoosh thing. He’s a cool, futuristic-looking character- but also a reminder to live my purpose, be the best ‘me’ I can strive for- and aim to infinity- and beyond.
All this, because of a couple of punctured tyres 6 months ago!
Now- notice how I started out, by sharing the story of an afternoons’ bike ride that turned to disaster?
That’s Part 1- the story.
Then, I mentioned how the second attempt- where I took care on the hazardous section and rode away unscathed- made me think of a particular scene from Toy Story– and then expanded on why I think Toy Story is a great movie and why Buzz is my favourite character from it.
That’s Part 2- the segue. I shared a story and then tied in a certain aspect of it (be that something it reminds you of, a lesson or a realisation) and turned that into me talking about something else.
Now Part 3-
This is where you share your offer and persuade your readers to take action.
In this case?
If you’d love to have someone else taking care of your online marketing, helping you pull in new leads and sales on autopilot (even writing engaging, industry-targeted posts for your business just like this one)? Then get in touch with me for your complimentary, 30-minute consultation-
The possibilities are endless, but spots are limited- so lock it in today: