Daniel Ross
Daniel Ross 22 May 2018
Categories Content

How to Use Storytelling to Improve Content Marketing

There’s something about stories. They captivated us as children, and as adults, when we hear stories, we are often listening for something we can relate to. It’s no surprise then that storytelling is an effective aspect of content marketing… when done with skill, that is. Good stories are relatable and intriguing…

Somewhere inside a story, there is often a challenge or problem to overcome; something that resonates with the reader or listener on some level. Ultimately there must be a conclusion that satisfies the imagination. Content marketing isn’t any different. It is possible to use stories to captivate your audiences, leading them down a path to your desired result.

Stories can be found everywhere; in marketing, they pop up in blogs, videos, email campaigns and social media. Content marketing benefits greatly from well-told stories…  but the key to success lies in delivering them in a clever way. Here are some tips on doing so:

1. Take a leaf out of the professionals’ books

There are plenty of master storytellers out there, from Shakespeare to Stephen King. The authors have very different styles, but they all include the essential ingredients of a good story in order to keep their readers’ attention.

If you delve into some of their works with the intention of uncovering their processes, you can learn a lot. It might help to study the writers themselves, in order to learn about their personal histories and motivations. Within their writing you’ll find methodologies that you can apply to your content marketing.

2. Analyse your own preferences

You’ve probably got some favourite stories of your own, and there is gold within them. Look at your favourite blogs or videos with new eyes to uncover what makes them so compelling for you. What fascinates you the most? The characters or the storyline?  What in these stories can you relate to? Once you’ve uncovered the factors that appeal to you the most, you can apply them to your content marketing.

3. Aim to intrigue

Most marketing tactics are designed with the aim of intriguing readers. Whether it is email campaigns or regular blog posts, it is necessary to capture the interest of the target audience.

If you can manage to captivate your audience, they’ll be loyal to your brand. It helps to gather as much information as you can about your audience; this can be done when they sign up to your email list, for example. There are various triggers that hook the attention of an audience, such as alarm, prestige, mystery, or power.  Try to infuse these into your content.

4. Commit to authenticity

A lot of people have a nose for insincerity. It’s a good idea to stick as close to the truth as possible when telling your stories. Embellishing unduly will make your brand seem inauthentic. It may also be difficult to remember what you’ve said at a later date, leading to embarrassing contradictions… and damage to your brand.

It is much more effective to deliver authentic stories in a creative and articulate way. It’s all about incorporating the essential factors into your stories without misleading your readers. This will help you to remain consistent, which will in turn earn trust.

5. Don’t hide who you are

Some brands may try to be ‘well-rounded’ or general in order to appeal to as many people as possible. This rarely works out well. There will be an audience out there that appreciates the true personality of you and your brand. Just as they want to relate to your stories, they want to relate to you.

Let your personality to show up within your stories. This can happen through the way you articulate them, the humour you use, and how bold and honest you are. If you’re perceived as ‘real’ your stories will be more believable, and the more your audience will be tuned into what you have to say – ongoing.

Don’t be afraid of including personal details or unusual events in your stories. This will only make them more interesting.

6. Don’t limit yourself to the written word

It’s not all about books and magazines. Stories can be found in movies, YouTube videos, presentations… any channel that allows people to express themselves. Perhaps you’re used to creating content in the form of articles and blogs. Even if you’ve never made a video before, why not have a go? Stories are more compelling when delivered verbally, and even more so when the narrator is visible.

It makes sense to research your target audiences’ interests and preferences. What do they care about? What are their preferred channels? Which medium works better with the kind of stories you’re telling? For example, you can get away with saying a lot more in a video than you might in an article. However, the written word works better with narratives.

7. Don’t miss out anything important

As we mentioned at the start of this article, your story needs to include memorable characters and an unpredictable plot, if it is to garner genuine interest. It’s good to take the audience on a journey that ebbs and flows, so they’re not sure what lies around the corner. Take some inspiration from brands that already mastered storytelling.

Your conclusion is crucial – you can’t leave your audience hanging or they won’t be interested in any future stories. These are the fundamental elements of storytelling and they should not be overlooked. When building a story, before publishing it, check that it contains all of these elements. If not, rebuild it until it is genuinely intriguing.

If you can include all of these factors while being true to your brand, you’ll be able to tell stories you can rework/repost time and time again. If you’re not sure how well received your stories are, it’s a good idea to get some feedback from your audience. This will help you to understand how different people are responding to your content strategies.

To conclude, stories can come in many forms, but they must all have something in common. They must grab the attention, ignite the imagination, and take the listener or reader down an intriguing path. The aim is to make the listener care about the characters or plot, encouraging them to find something in the tale that is relatable. If you can do that, you’ve cracked it.

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