People relate to other people more readily than to ideas. That’s why one of the most powerful sales tools available to marketers is the “real-life” example. I tossed those cute little quote marks around ral-life, because the truth is that most of those examples are fictionalized.

Now, just because they’re fiction doesn’t mean they don’t reflect the truth. The key is to take a common experience that represents many people, and turn it into a believable (but fictional) character. It’s not illegal or unethical, as long as everyone understands that it’s just an example to explain a concept.

Suppose you’re promoting life insurance to young families. You could begin by saying something like “a couple in their early 30s with small children needs to consider many factors when it comes to final security.” Ho-hum.

Or, you could create a couple that does a nice job of illustrating the lesson you want to teach: “Now that Jim and Barbara Miller have three children, Barb has been thinking about how the family’s finances would be affected if something happened to Jim. Both parents are working, but his salary accounts for 65 percent of the couple’s income.” Now you’ve made the same issue far more real to the reader.

Human nature makes us interested in other people’s lives, and we learn lessons from the challenges others face and how they respond. Using fictionalized scenarios allows you to take advantage of that and make your marketing messages more meaningful and more memorable.