Content marketing can be an effective strategy to build your authority and grow your business. But for your content marketing efforts to work, you’ll need to make sure the content is engaging, interesting, and compelling for your audience.
Content marketing is not just about churning out informative or entertaining articles; it’s about creating connection with other human beings that are your customers or potential customers. And one of the most potent ways to connect with other human beings is through the power of storytelling.
Stories have always been a fundamental way humans communicate and relate to one another. Starting in childhood, stories are central to how we learn about the world, convey our own thoughts, and form relationships.
As a marketer and business owner, effective storytelling enables you to create a deeper connection with your audience by giving them something they can relate to. People see themselves in stories, they empathize with stories, and stories are both meaningful memorable to them. If you want an engaged audience, you can use storytelling to let them know you understand them, to inspire them to take action, and to encourage a sense of loyalty.
The following storytelling techniques will help make your content more fun and effective:
1. Get Personal
Whether you’re developing a personal brand or a company brand, don’t shy away from telling personal stories. This doesn’t mean you have to divulge your deepest secrets, but pulling back the curtains and providing a glimpse into “real life” communicates who you are, builds trust, and establishes a sense of intimacy.
Getting personal will help your message resonate with the audience. People want honesty, which is why so many are drawn to memoirs, autobiographies, and even the concept of reality television.
Your content can include stories of failure, success, first-hand struggles, and tales from the trenches. Weave in original anecdotes about your cat, your first customer, or your favorite college professor and your readers will be more likely to tune in more closely to your content. Get real and bring a little drama and you’ll come across as more genuine, endearing, and someone they’ll be more likely to do business with.
2. Show and Tell
Infuse imagery, both literally and figuratively, into your content. Use clear, concrete, vivid language to help your audience better imagine your storyline. And use actual images, such as photographs, graphical elements, and video to add the power of visual storytelling to the mix.
Your written content can be enhanced with picturesque narrative descriptions because human beings relate to the retelling of experiences. And your written narrative can be enhanced by pictures because the brain processes images more quickly than language. So showing and telling is a powerful combination to more effectively engage your audience.
3. Create Familiarity
Want to create a sense of trust with your storytelling? Use story elements that are already familiar to your audience. Include metaphor, pop culture references, deeper cultural meanings, nostalgia, and even controversy to tap into their world.
By using metaphor in your stories, you can compare something simple and familiar to concepts that are more abstract and unfamiliar. Weaving metaphors into your stories can help your audience better understand the solutions you provide from their own experience.
Cultural references, nostalgia, and controversy can be effective in tapping into emotion. So consider ways you can use these elements to illustrate how well you understand and relate to your audience; show them that you’re on their side. Including familiar elements will help your stories feel recognizable, ring true, and establish an emotional connection.
Again, you want them to be able to see themselves in your story. The better you know your ideal customer personas, the better you will be at striking a chord of familiarity with your stories.
4. Follow a Story Structure
No matter how short, a good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Even if it’s just a few paragraphs, you should consider the characters, plot, and flow of the storyline that you want your audience to follow.
For example, your story could follow a common structure known as the hero’s journey — a story in which the character goes on an adventure of some sort, faces a crisis, wins a victory, and comes home transformed. Making a customer the hero of your story can inspire your customers to believe your products or services can provide the transformation they’re seeking.
You’re not writing a novel here and you’ll want to keep your stories short and simple, but simple does not necessarily mean unsophisticated. For your story to be most effective, your reader should be taken through a series of events that draw them to a conclusion where they learn something about your business that can benefit them.
5. Add Suspense and Tension
From Hollywood blockbusters to bestselling novels, it’s clear that audiences love a plot with tension and suspense. Tension seduces us to pay attention until we see how the storyline works out.
So when you introduce tension to your story, it’s your job to present a problem that makes the reader uncomfortable or anxious and then work towards a solution that eases the tension. Suspense also compels the reader to keep paying attention. It’s your job to introduce a question and then keep them going until you reveal the answer.
When you add suspense and tension to your content, your readers will stay interested longer and be more engaged with what they’re reading. Be provocative and present your company as the problem solver.
Overall, using storytelling in your content marketing can be fun and effective because stories have the potential to be magnetic and a have universal appeal. Stories can unite, galvanize, persuade, and inspire action. They provide a sense of identity and belonging and form a connection stronger than any other form of marketing. The better storyteller you become, the more powerful your content marketing can be.
Need help with infusing storytelling into your content marketing strategy? Give our team a shout.