Much like everything you write, your content marketing efforts must tell a story. And, no, we’re not just talking about that ‘once upon a time’ nonsense. It’s much, much more than that.
Ultimately, storytelling is the most human way of communicating anything; it’s how we break down and digest complex ideas. So, if you’re able to position your content as a story, you’ll be able to better engage your buyer personas. And the more engaged your readers are, the more likely they are to become leads, customers and advocates of your business.
So, how on earth can you become the master storyteller? Let’s get started with the basics.
What makes a story worth reading and sharing?
Did you know that the average reader will only spend 10 to 20 seconds on a webpage? Of that time spent, they’ll usually only read about 20 percent of your content.
As a content marketer, copywriter, or business that values the worth behind words, you’ll know that content is only useful if your readers want to read it. It’s all well and good talking about software development, but if you talk about it in an inaccessible way, your website visitors will vacate the premises and breeze their way through another Buzzfeed quiz.
With that in mind, here are five signs your content marketing is telling an interesting, worthwhile story.
1. It's real
It features people, places, times, emotions, facts – things that interest us and things we can attach ourselves to, or see ourselves in. But, more importantly, a crafty content marketer will arrange all these elements to control the effect on the reader or persuade them into seeking more information or assistance.
2. It's fresh
When you’re writing a piece of content, ask yourself whether you’re saying anything new. Have you already talked about the topic in another blog post? Has the story been told a thousand times before?
Your readers don’t like reading old news, much like you wouldn’t want to read a year-old newspaper.
3. It’s relevant
Your content marketing strategy, beginning at your campaign ideation and planning, must be rooted in relevancy. Therefore, it’s important that your blog posts, white papers and even your website pages are based upon your target buyer persona’s needs.
If it doesn’t tackle an issue they care about, they’re not going to continue reading.
4. It’s important
Ah, importance. We only like to digest things if we feel like they hold value.
“Company makes new computer”, for instance, is not important. But “Company makes smallest/cheapest/fastest computer” is.
When planning and writing your content marketing assets, understanding the importance of your chosen topic is key. Why should your readers care? What makes the piece interesting?
5. It’s entertaining
It’s not enough to just write relevant, important and new content… you have to work your magic around the way you tell your story, too.
And that, of course, means making your words as entertaining as possible. Think of ways you can incorporate a pun, a joke or perhaps a light-hearted quote into your writing.
By injecting life into your content, you’ll keep your readers hooked and encourage them to enjoy the content you produce.
Angling: Fishing for the right direction
Before you can start telling your stories, you’ll need to construct your angle. This might take some thought, but it’s crucial you get it right. Without the right angle, the direction of your entire piece of content could be compromised.
Consider the first sentence in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: ‘The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.’ Or Seth Godin’s introduction to Small is the new big: ‘You’re smarter than your boss or your friends or your organization believes.’ What do these two introductory sentences have in common? They’re big, bold and beautiful.
They entice the readers in like an invitation to a party. Here at Articulate, we call these beginning sentences ‘ledes’. And, in a way, they do as the name suggests; they lead readers into the topic like reeling a fish from water.
Why are stories important for content marketing?
We’ve explained what makes a story compelling and how you can entice your readers. But, why does all of this matter for your content marketing strategy?
It’s simple. Your stories can not only demonstrate your trustworthiness and expertise as a business, they can help attract visitors and potential leads to your website.
People adore content. We live to consume ideas. And, if we like what we read enough, we’re willing to share it with the world. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to get seen: keep telling your stories.