5 Actionable Storytelling Tips For Your Content Marketing

StorytellerYou can have the most useful information in the world for your target market but if you don’t package it so your audience can understand, it’s useless. You literally have seconds to win your audience’s attention or they’re onto the next thing.

How do you make your content stand out and grab your audience’s attention? Tell a good story. It provides an emotional connection and context that draws your audience in and makes them remember it.

Recently, a colleague made a presentation on the mechanism for measuring and improving customer satisfaction. Instead of providing the more accessible, consumer-friendly background for word of mouth marketing and how to use it to improve the customer experience, he jumped straight into the nuts and bolts of his presentation losing a significant portion of his audience in the transition.

Why? They had no context in which to understand the facts he presented.

If he had started with a story, he would have positioned the topic in terms the audience could emotionally connect with. As a result, he could have turned a good presentation into a great presentation.

Like my colleague, most marketers would be more effective if they incorporate stories into their content to make them memorable and actionable. Here are 5 actionable storytelling tips to make your content come alive for your audience.

  1. Understand the basic story archetypes. Dating back to myths and the Bible, the goal is to leverage these universal storytelling forms. Christopher Booker outlines the 7 main story archetypes in his book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories (Amazon link). They are:
     
    • Overcoming the monster
    • Rags to riches
    • The quest
    • Voyage and return
    • Comedy
    • Tragedy
    • Rebirth

    Understand that Booker is referring to classic stories such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Homer’s The Odyssey.

  2. Create a strong protagonist with whom your audience can identify. This means consider your audience and what’s relevant to them, not to your boss. Your central character doesn’t have to be larger than life but rather someone who your audience can relate to. It can be Harry Potter or the AFLAC duck.
  3. Incorporate the basics every journalist uses: who, what, when, where and why, This information adds credibility to your story.
  4. Add a moral arc. Your story must contain and reaffirm a lesson your audience already knows. Think of Aesop’s classic fables with moral at the end.
  5. Use rich details to make the story real. The more specific you are, the more universal your story becomes. Make your stories visual for your audience.

Start with a short example that makes your point tangible to your audience. Think basic story: beginning, middle and end. The beauty of this approach is that you give your reader something they can relate to and remember. This provides a useful context for the more complex information you want to share.

Once you’re finished developing your content, review it in its entirety to ensure it provides a consistent story that makes sense and is memorable for your audience.

What has your experience been incorporating stories in your content and what were the results.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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