SD #20: The $2 Billion Storytelling Framework

#copywriting businessstorytelling marketing sales Nov 08, 2022


The StoryHack Behind One of the Most Profitable Sales Letters of All Time 

 (Responsible for Generating An Estimated $2 Billion in Revenue)


Read Time: 6.0 minutes


He wants to buy, but he doesn’t want to be sold.

 Michael Masterson and John Forde, Talking about the Motivations of a Prospect


We recently finished reading a copywriting book called Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message. The book takes you through six different ways to begin a sales letter to grab the attention of your prospect. One of those ways is something the authors call the Story Lead.

There are several Story Lead examples but one Story Lead example stood out to us for two reasons: (1) it's the lead for one of the most profitable sales letters of all time and (2) the lead incorporates a storytelling framework we've been championing for years.  

The sales letter ran for 28 years from 1975-2003. It generated an estimated $2 billion in revenue, which works out to $195,694 per day. Here's the lead portion of the sales letter for you to read yourself:



In this issue, we'll show you how a story framework was used in the sales letter above to make the copy so effective.


What’s the Tip?

People like to buy, but they don't want to be sold. The tip for inspiring a purchase is to invite your prospect in by creating a compelling story vs. interrupting your prospect with copy promoting your product or service. 

But how do you integrate storytelling into your business?

Having a framework makes this task much easier.

Our sales letter example uses something called the And-But-Therefore framework or ABT for short. 

If you're aware of this framework already, consider the guidance below a refresher. If you're new to ABT, enjoy a fresh, simple approach to storytelling that some have called "the storytelling source code."


How Do You Use It? 

In this section, we'll take you through the sales letter lead above in the WSJ and the ABT framework behind it. It goes like this:

The "And" part sets up the situation. It invites your audience or reader in by making a statement that most everyone would agree with or that most people would consider to be indisputable. It's a statement of agreement that must also be inherently relatable.

(Side note: you won't always come across the word "And" in this first section).

The "But" is the turn, the challenge, the problem, or the obstacle in your story. You will most likely see the word "But" - sometimes you'll see the word "However" used instead. The word "But" signals that a change is coming, and it literally sends a signal to the brain that makes people stop and pay attention.

The word "Therefore" (also can be swapped out for "So", "That's Why", or "Finally") kicks off the resolution to the problem.

Now, let's see how this plays out in the sales letter.



Dear Reader:

On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men.

Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both -– as young college graduates are -– were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.

Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion.

They were still very much alike.

Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and were still there.



But there was a difference. One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.

What Made The Difference

Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives? It isn’t always a native intelligence or talent or dedication. It isn’t that one person wants success and the other doesn’t.

The difference lies in what each person knows and how he or she makes use of that knowledge.


 And that is why I am writing to you and to people like you about The Wall Street Journal. For that is the whole purpose of The Journal: To give its readers knowledge – knowledge that they can use in business.


What are Some Examples?

The sales letter lead we just shared is the best example because of the data. It generated $2 billion worth of business!

But what about you and your daily work? Can ABT be helpful? Yes.

Here are two examples from LinkedIn created by two former students of ours.

Example one, a post about social media, comes from Executive Coach, Cherilynn Castleman.

Example two, a post about storytelling comes from Business Growth Strategist, Sophie Lechner.

Note how both of them applied ABT so beautifully! 



Example two:

What Are the Benefits to You?

People don't want to be sold to, especially if they don't know you, your product, or your brand. Effective storytelling can be very helpful in these situations by building empathy, interest, and trust.

The ABT StoryHack gives you an easy-to-remember, easy-to-use, easy-to-apply framework to help you create better content right away - content that invites people in and causes them to want to stay and hear what you have to say.



  1. Invite people into your story, instead of interrupting them.
  2. Use frameworks that help you create great content that drives the action you want.
  3. And-But-Therefore is a proven framework that does just that. 


Creating engaging content can be even easier when you know all 3 StoryHacks!

1. Master the 3 StoryHacks you need to create better content faster in our Private VIP Workshop

2. Get real-time feedback for a special project or presentation and elevate your business storytelling with live, virtual Coaching.

We hope this issue has been helpful. We look forward to seeing you next week!

New Workshop: Craft Your Personal Narrative: Master Your Answer to "Tell Me About Yourself"

Are you interviewing and want to feel confident answering one of the most commonly asked questions, "tell me about yourself"? This question can be a real minefield - and your response can go really well, or really wrong. We'll teach you a storytelling framework to help you nail your response.

Explore the Workshop