«Return to Blog List These are a few of my favorite leads…

The typical ghost story begins, "It was a dark and stormy night…" While it’s now become cliche, it’s a good lead sentence because you want to know more. The scene has been set, encouraging the reader or listener to continue.

The same goes for the lead on a customer success story or case study. How you open your story either grasps the reader right there, or loses him/her.

That’s why I encourage writers and companies to move "About" sections to the end of customer stories and begin with engaging copy from the first sentence. It’s no different than reading a feature story in a magazine or newspaper.

Here are a few of my own favorite leads from customer stories. I’d love to hear some of yours.

Tennessee is more than 600 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. But as far as HR Widget Company was concerned, the Chattanooga-based company’s HR department was struggling to navigate a phenomenon it called, "The Bermuda Triangle."

For a few weeks out of the year, Bob Smith’s job keeps him up at night.

NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens uses it, as does former Boston Marathon winner and current running coach Alberto Salazar.From pro sports teams to college athletics to children and adults with injuries or disabilities, therapy pools have been the answer for low-impact training, and faster recovery and rehabilitation.

What are some of your favorite leads – either your own or those you’ve seen? Please share!

5 Responses to These are a few of my favorite leads…

  1. Casey,
    What a coincidence. Just five minutes before I read your blog I looked up the text of Snoopy’s purple-prose novel to use in an ebook I’m writing on how to grab a reader’s attention from the beginning.
    I firmly believe case studies should use fiction techniques to tell a story. Journalists now use these same techniques when they write feature stories or “creative nonfiction.” Why should case study writers be so afraid of them?
    The key to a compelling opening is to force the reader to ask a Who, What, Where, Why or How question by the end of the first paragraph. Fiction writers call this the “Narrative Question” because the writer causes the reader to ask it mentally, even though it is not usually stated outright.
    Great post and great blog. It is now one of my daily reads.
    Charles Brown

  2. harry says:

    “Possibly the finest and toughest marathon: the "Jungfrau Marathon" from Interlaken via the Eiger glacier to the Kleine Scheidegg. An 1829 metre climb over 42.195 kilometres.
    Dr. Ingo F??rtsch of Procedure Management Passenger Transport of Deutsche Bahn Systems in Frankfurt has scaled the glacier three times already. Best time: 4 hours 45 minutes. Ingo F??rtsch knows what matters in sports: stamina and good equipment….”
    Now to the Business:
    “The marathon man also shows stamina and determination off the training route. The athletic Thuringian keeps all ticket machines of the Deutsche Bahn AG on track with ASDIS Kiosk Management….”
    It was a four 4-Pages-Case-Study, so there was a lot of space…

  3. Hi Charles,
    Thanks for introducing me to the “Narrative Question.” It’s something that I think a lot of writers may do accidentally, but now that I know about it, I can consciously strive to get readers to mentally ask it. I’d love to hear about any books you’ve come across that you’ve found helpful for storytelling techniques. Thanks for enhancing the discussion!

  4. Harry,
    Fabulous lead! Such a great example of telling a truly unique story in a case study, instead of just spinning the exact same tale every time about Kiosk Management. There’s no doubt the reader will be drawn in, and will now know the featured person as a person, rather than just an IT manager.
    Thanks for sharing your case study lead, especially since you may have had to translate it from German.
    Guten Abend!

  5. Casey,
    One book I remember that mentions the Narrative Quesiont is “The Millionaire’s Notebook” by Steve Scott (I think). He is the infomercial writer who wrote the Total Gym ads. He refers to his technique as “salting.”
    I also write about this technique in my ebook on marketing with case studies at http://dynamic-copywriting.net/Plotthinkenspdf.pdf.
    Hope that helps.
    Charles Brown