Storytelling & Content Marketing

Storytelling & Content Marketing

Last week at a marketing event, one of the presenters showed a BMW commercial and a line from that commercial really stuck out to me. It was something I already knew, but for some reason the reminder really hit me and has stayed with me. That line, paraphrased a little bit by me, said, “What you make consumers feel is even more important than what you actually make.”

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This line rings true with storytelling.

Storytelling is an essential part of content marketing. Its main focus isn’t on the language you use, but on how you craft and tell your stories to your audience in a compelling way. So storytelling isn’t so much what you say, it’s how you say it.

Determining how you craft and tell your stories depends on your target audience. Your story must align with your customers. You need to know their needs, what they’d want to hear and share with others and what their emotional triggers are. If you craft your stories around the personalities of your target audiences, you’re thinking strategically about your storytelling and therefore are in sync with your customers. When you’re in sync with your customers, you’re able to make an emotional connection through your story that also allows them to connect with your brand. You make them feel something, and that emotional feeling is what causes them to change their views on a particular topic or change their behavior and makes them want to talk about and share your story with their family, friends and coworkers.

What makes a good story?

Word count isn’t what makes a good story. Just because a piece of written content is 1,000+ words doesn’t mean it’s a good story or that it even tells a story at all. Facts and features are two other things that don’t make a good story. While sometimes those things need to be told to let your audience know about your product, they don’t provide an emotional connection. Like Bryan Eisenberg has said, “Facts tell, but stories sell.”

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Good stories take consumers on an enjoyable narrative journey. They have a beginning, middle and end, while subtly revealing your brand’s message somewhere along the way, creating a more powerful, memorable and shareable piece of content. They have relatable characters, a setting, a structured storyline and inspiration from a personal experience of yours or someone you know to help make the story more applicable and personable to your readers.

Good stories also need to have accompanying images and/or videos to help show rather than just tell your story. Images and videos are needed allies with written stories simply because they’re moving and help create and reinforce that emotional connection with your target audience.

And lastly, your stories need to identify and answer the Five W’s: who, what, where, when and why. The why is especially important. Your story needs to show why you’re telling the story and why your audience needs to care.

When it comes to good storytelling, here are some things your story can and should be:

  • Entertaining
  • Creative
  • Genuine
  • Engaging
  • Valuable
  • Relatable
  • Inspiring
  • Informational
  • Authentic
  • Funny
  • Consistent with your brand and others stories you tell
  • Paced correctly so your target audience doesn’t lose interest or get overwhelmed

In order to be successful, your content marketing efforts need good storytelling. Good storytelling is the content marketing tool that entertains consumers while solving their problems, encourages consumers to use their critical thinking skills and sparks discussions amongst consumers online and offline.

About Kirsten Metcalf

Kirsten is a graduate of Brigham Young University, earning her print journalism degree in April 2012. Before coming to Stryde, she was a sports reporter and then the sports editor for BYU’s newspaper, as well as a remote sports editor for Deseret Connect. Although she’s from Missouri, she’s a die-hard Kansas basketball fan. When she’s not watching KU play or pumping out content for Stryde, she’s most likely watching movies or Netflix in her workout clothes whilst drinking a Pepsi and eating popcorn.

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