Think back to your childhood and the stories you read in colorful picture books, or that were told to you by a loving adult. You still remember those stories to this day. Why? Because the author – or storyteller – had talent in keeping your interest.
When it comes to content marketing, a good storyteller is vital. Storytellers know that the theme of the story needs to be interesting to the audience. Once the interest is captured, they need to hold onto that interest with twists and turns while unraveling the plot. And like any excellently written page-turner, a storyteller masterfully wraps up the story without any extraneous verbiage to bog the reader/listener down.
So how does this pertain to content marketing?
First of all, know your audience.
A storyteller knows that eerie, scary stories are appropriate for adults and older children, while fairytales tend to be better for little children.
If you’re selling digital gadgets to young video-gamers, feel free to throw in all the techno jargon and slang that you can artfully work into your content. But if you’re a financial advisor helping couples of all financial backgrounds to establish family trusts for their children, you might want to avoid legal terms and instead keep your messaging general so readers can understand the process, and come to you later for specifics.
Second, make your message accessible.
Companies love to spend money on surveys, and to justify this cost, they flood as many news sources as possible with the results. The problem is, much of this information isn’t interesting or understandable to the average reader. A storyteller who keeps throwing extraneous people, places or things into his story is going to lose the interest of his audience, and a marketing executive who thinks survey results are the perfect reason for developing content marketing is going to see the same consequences.
The best story is the kind that catches the audience by surprise. Make sure your information is newsworthy, otherwise it has no place in a brand journalism story. Stats that are unexpected (i.e. nearly two-thirds of families identified by the Census Bureau as “poor” are able to pay for cable or satellite television in their household according to a 2011 report), or that show a wide discrepancy (i.e. only 4.5 percent of men compared to 23.7 percent of women shop impulsively and buy unplanned items or without need, according to a study published in the Journal of Financial Planning) are what really make a story interesting.
Finally, give your content marketing some life.
As a former reporter, I was required to weave a first-person angle into almost every story I wrote. Apply the same principle to your stories. Give readers a reason to connect with the article – whether you provide them with advice on ways to improve their lives or share a personal story they can relate to from a regular “John Doe.” Without this connection, readers may perceive your article to be an advertisement and lose interest in your message.
Good storytellers hone their craft with practice and by constantly trying to find new ways to make their stories better. Test your storytelling skills using these tips with your next content marketing strategy piece and see what kinds of results you get.