Posted in Content | 5-min read
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Hey, friends. It’s Ken again. If you remember in our last piece about giving your useless blog some usefulness CPR, I pulled in a story from my past. A brief refresher: Before I was the content marketing crackerjack I am today, I was a sewing machine repair guy. As a rule of thumb, I wouldn’t charge for the most minor adjustments to machine parts if I could fix it in a few seconds in front of the customer. While some would say that this cost me business, it mostly left me with dozens of sewing fans clutching my business card.
The point of the story was to outline the concept of serving your audience even before they’ve given you a dime. While I could have just launched into the benefits of having a useful blog, my diversion into story-time helped the audience see the benefits of such an attitude from another perspective — their own.
Even though they may not own a sewing machine, I’m sure they could understand how the customers must have felt upon receiving a free adjustment and a business card. Boom — relevant and compelling message established. But this technique doesn’t require any significant genius. You can easily accomplish the same effect by using stories in your marketing content.
1. Storytelling To Explain Complex Ideas
Storytelling is a tool that has been used to bring people together since neanderthals played Pictionary on cave walls. Cultures all over the world use stories to explain complex ideas. Telling relatable and relevant stories in your marketing helps your audience better understand difficult concepts. Whether it actually happened or is completely fictional, a well-crafted story can result in a healthy number of lightbulb moments for readers.
2. Storytelling Can Make Content Interesting
Though necessary for discussion, some subjects are just downright boring. If you’re writing about the safety requirements for electric company workers, it may be difficult to keep people from nodding off. However, using a real-world example of someone working through a difficult or even dangerous situation on the job can help keep readers on the edge of their seats. If you’re afraid that your marketing content will put readers to sleep, an interesting story can increase the likelihood that your audience will want to see how a story ends.
3. Storytelling To Promote Emotional Investment
In a similar vein of writing exciting stories in your marketing content, storytelling can help readers connect with an idea on an emotional level. Even though it can feel deceptive, there’s really nothing wrong with plucking your readers’ heartstrings every now and again — as long as you keep it honest. Many people willingly read fictional emotional rollercoasters, so don’t be afraid to chop onions in your writing. Still, remember that any heart-string solo you perform should always seek to connect your audience with your message. Proceed with caution or else your story may just wind up tangled in heartstrings and smelling like an onion.
4. Keep Stories Relevant
Before you eagerly rattle off a tale of woe and want in order to pitch a sock brand or the benefits of vinyl siding, ask yourself the following questions: will this story (A) make my ideas clearer, (B) murkier, or (C) is just a story for the sake of a story? If you answered “yes” to either B or C, reconsider the story you intend to use.
Stories should only help to make points more digestible for your audience. There’s a good chance that your subject is confusing enough as it is, so a literary rabbit trail is not the answer.
5. Don’t just tell a story — tell a story.
Storytelling is much more than simply informing an audience about a particular event. Telling a story well puts the audience in the shoes of the characters. They should feel what is felt, see what is seen, and, yes, smell what is smelled (are you still chopping onions?).
Now, don’t go completely overboard at the risk of diluting your point, but your stories should not read like stage directions or a police report. Allow your stories to contain just enough color and personality to keep the reader’s attention and to keep the robot uprising from stealing all of the writer jobs. Seriously — not cool.
6. Don’t Leave the Reader Hanging
In order for any content to make sense, it must have a point. In order for any story to be relevant, it should have a conclusion. When you’re finishing up the point of your content, make sure you don’t leave the reading in regards to the story.
When I told the story of my free simple adjustments in return for taking my business card, I resolved the story by saying that the method worked, that I actually earned quite a bit of business from my technique. If I would have just said that I was known to adjust some things for free and hand out business cards, the story would have no resolution and thus little correlation with the point I was attempting to make.
This lack of a conclusion would make the story that much less compelling — causing it to diminish the strength of my point. Leaving loose threads makes for a less satisfying reading experience.
In this piece, we looked at the value that storytelling can make in your content marketing.
A good story can:
- Simplify complex ideas
- Keep the content interesting
- Help promote emotional investment
A good story should:
- Be relevant
- Be interesting
- Have a conclusion