Tips for Telling a Great Content Marketing Story (and Living Happily Ever After)
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin
Action. Drama. Strong characters. A compelling twist that stays with you long after you leave the theater. These are all elements of a great story and memorable characters. Marketing can sometimes lean on storytelling to the point of cliché, but when done right, stories can capture customer emotions as strongly and effectively as it grabs their attention.
Storytelling has expanded beyond the arts, and content writers are using storytelling techniques to create compelling and memorable content for some of today’s biggest brands. From maintaining overall brand identity to crafting individual stories for web, blog, and advertising copy, the best content marketing captures emotion. Here at Prose, we effectively incorporate storytelling in our content. Here are three of our successful strategies for connecting with customers.
1. Tap into a customer’s personal narrative
One reason we find stories so powerful is that they are a metaphor for life. Like stories, our lives have chapters (childhood, adolescence, old age) along with heroes, villains, and themes (love, growth, redemption) that tie everything together.
Like fictional main characters, we sometimes feel a disconnect between how we see ourselves, how everyone else sees us, and what we want to be. Psychologists know that mining those dichotomies is an extremely effective strategy: If we read GQ magazine, maybe we’ll become like the hunky men on the cover. If we buy a certain razor, maybe we’ll become like the beautiful, carefree women in the product’s commercials.
While tapping into the “what we want to be” part of the narrative is extremely effective, it’s not the only one. Another angle that works is meeting people where they are now and helping them feel good about that. That strategy is best exemplified by Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, which produced the most-watched ad of all time.
Nothing is as irresistible to an audience than recognizing themselves in the content they’re consuming. That’s why your favorite book, TV show, or movie is very likely to feature a character who reminds you of yourself, whether it’s the person you were, the person you are, or the person you want to be.
2. Utilize the power of subtlety
Not-so-effective writers try too hard, go over-the-top, think and write in clichéd formulas, and use tired lines like, “Have you ever found yourself…” or “You know that feeling when…” Just like those emails whose subject line reads, “Very Important!! Open Immediately!!,” such posts usually elicit little more than an eye roll.
The best content writers employ a great deal of subtlety. A great story doesn’t jump and scream to get your attention. A great story is one you unwittingly fall into — a story that gets under your skin. The best stories don’t remind people that they’re reading or watching something. Instead, they draw people in by engaging their emotions and speaking to their perceptions. That’s the power of subtlety that great content writers bring to your content.
3. Be creative, but remain truthful
Brand storytellers will give you one piece of advice up front: The truth will set you free. In today’s sophisticated consumer world, people can tell when the wool is being pulled over their eyes. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative in telling a story about your brand — you can and should be as creative as you want — as long as you don’t confuse creativity with lying. As any good writer knows, there are many creative ways to tell the truth.
Today’s consumers don’t have the time or patience for trite, in-your-face marketing. They want to be engaged, educated, and entertained. Consumers want a relationship they can trust with a brand they feel they know — one they feel understands them.
That’s a challenge for companies that need content. Telling brand stories that connect with customers, that make them want to be part of that story, is a unique skill set. Following these three rules will help you tell your brand’s story successfully. Or, if you’d rather leave the storytelling to professional storytellers while you focus on the business, let the writers at Prose Media help you. Sign up to gain free access to our platform today so we can start a new chapter together.