‘Storytelling: How to Make it a Powerful Tool for Content Marketing’ is a guest post by Mile Živković, a content marketer and work-life balance expert at Chanty – an AI-powered Slack alternative.
Everyone loves a good story!
Remember the time when your parents read you bedtime stories? While you were intrigued by those fascinating fables, your mom and dad were actually using ‘storytime’ as a sneaky tactic to put you to sleep.
Storytelling has the power to persuade without coming off as ‘too direct’… and as such it has the power to sell. Content marketing’s storytelling can produce incredible results when executed smoothly – no matter the format. Whether it’s a video, a blog post, or an infographic.
To kick your content marketing / storytelling off on the right foot, make sure to keep the tips below in mind.
Not all content marketing is good storytelling
Content Marketing is a vast domain and involves different kinds of content. Most marketing content usually falls into the category of lists, along with occasional roundup posts. However, just because you’re writing a long-form posts on a certain topic, doesn’t mean you’re telling a story.
Only a few content marketers are great storytellers. But no worries, in a few moments, we’ll discuss the necessary elements for the best content marketing storytelling strategies. And why should you trust me? Well, at Chanty we went from 0 to 10k leads from content marketing!
Dare to take the road less traveled
As a content marketer, you’ve been taught that a certain way of writing works. A minimum of 1,000 words, the article is optimized for a certain keyword, insert a few subheadings, make a nice conclusion and you can call it a day.
Problem is, there’s no room for storytelling in this traditional wireframe of content marketing.
Instead, I suggest you take a concept, introduce a plot (and characters where possible), and lead it from the introduction all the way to the end. If you need a fresh perspective, think about hiring a professional journalist to write a piece – you’ll be surprised how unconventional the content will sound. You can also get a fresh set of eyes (an editor) to take a look at your content and start reading well-known publications such as the New York Times for inspiration.
For instance, the guys at ContentKingApp have a great story on how they attempted to scale, ran into an obstacle and had to completely rethink their processes. What could have been a small paragraph, has been made engaging with storytelling. Content marketing thus gets a boost to attain its ultimate goal.
Leverage storytelling where it matters most
While it’s true that stories are captivating, there’s a reason that the same old listicle format is still a preferred choice. There are people who genuinely wish to read these kinds of articles, and blending content marketing and storytelling here, won’t serve the purpose.
Whether it’s page views, session length, click-through rates or something entirely different, storytelling isn’t always the best bet to get desired results. In fact, it’s best to analyze your user journey and adapt the content according to different stages.
For example, potential customers who just landed on your website may be more receptive to storytelling as they are yet to figure out who you are and how you can solve their pain points. On the other hand, someone in the closing stages who is ready to buy probably doesn’t have the interest or patience to read through a story. But some lists will suffice for them.
An ideal way could be a mixed approach, wherein you can create an interview and tell a story from a guest’s point of view. For example, the famous Brian Dean of Backlinko shares his beginnings and struggles in his interview with Uplead.
Include the necessary elements of storytelling
The first element of a good story is knowing your audience inside out.
Who they are, what they do, why they’re on your blog and what kind of content they like to read. Armed with that knowledge, write for them, using the kind of language they understand and use themselves.
Second, have a character.
Whether it’s the writer themselves, another customer or a completely random person, every good story needs to have a character to be entertaining and relatable.
Speaking of entertaining, the famous example of Dollar Shave Club is storytelling at its finest. Within 90 seconds, you know all about the company, what they do and why you should give them their trust. Not all that, it’s also pretty fun to watch, which is why it went viral.
Third, make sure there’s a conflict.
Well, not necessarily a conflict, but some sort of pain or issue that the main character deals with it. Once it’s taken care of, you can close off the story with a resolution.
Fourth, have some structure.
With listicles, it doesn’t matter how you rearrange the sections of your article. If you’re telling a story, the order is crucial to produce something readable and not seem like storytelling and content marketing have been forced together.
Fifth, back your statements up with data.
Unlike a book or a movie, marketing content has to convince and convert. Words alone sometimes aren’t enough to get you there. If you’re making a claim, include a link to the original source. Of course, your aim is not to turn your piece into a research paper, rather ensure the reader that your statements aren’t just your own opinion.
Finally, back up your story with visuals.
You have the opportunity to insert images and even videos to further develop your story and you should make use of it. The piece will be more readable and your story more convincing.
Voila! Your content marketing storytelling approach is now spot on.
Resources for content marketing storytelling
Storytelling in content marketing is an underused technique that doesn’t get enough love from marketers. However, it’s a powerful method to invoke emotions, put your readers on the edge of their seats and convince them to take action.
The articles linked below are excellent resources as your embark on infusing your content marketing with good storytelling that drives ROI:
- How Google Analytics Can Improve Your Content Marketing
- Data-Driven Brand Storytelling: 6 Steps to a Credible Story
- The Viral Power of Storytelling in Content Marketing