- 15 seconds is all you’ve got
- How to make your content marketing stand out?
- What is storytelling?
- What’s a story?
- How to implement storytelling into marketing copy?
- How should you tell your story?
- Using stories in content marketing – where do I begin?
Your product needs more storytelling in content marketing - here's why
You are just 3 steps away from creating an unforgettable piece of content. And I’m gonna tell you what they are.
Content marketing has recently become more valuable than ever. Everyone seems to be creating more content each day. Brands are investing in good content writers, video producers, podcasters, etc. Everyone’s gone mad about content marketing.
And that’s a big problem.
15 seconds is all you’ve got
It’s not easy these days to stand out with your content. I’m not thinking of those mediocre content pieces stuffed with keywords, created just for the sake of it.
Even if you’re producing valuable, comprehensive content and going above and beyond to deliver real value to your customers, it might not be enough.
I know that’s a tough pill to swallow, but let’s look at the numbers. According to Semrush’s State of Content Marketing 2022, "97% of 1500 surveyed marketers say content is a crucial part of their marketing strategy."
66% want to increase their content marketing budgets.
That’s a lot of people to compete with.
No wonder content specialists from around the world are trying to come up with strategies and “hacks” to make their content unique. At the end of the day, it’s nearly impossible to create something remarkable with such a dense crowd of competitors.
Well, let’s take a step back – I might have something more efficient in mind:
How to make your content marketing stand out?
I will be completely honest with you from the very beginning:
There’s no easy way to create good content.
Sorry, bud. But providing real value to people while staying original and relatable is a tough job to do.
I can’t share with you any particular hack or shortcut to become a better content producer. Instead, I’ll share with you a tool, which will:
- make your content resonate with your audience
- help your customers connect with your product emotionally
- make your customers say: “Damn, that’s about me!”
That tool is known as storytelling.
What is storytelling?
Storytelling is the act of sharing stories with people, either by writing, telling or showing them. It is a great way to communicate ideas, beliefs, personal experiences, and life lessons. Storytelling can evoke powerful emotions and insights in the audience.
That’s the simplest answer. To be more elaborate, we need to dissect the term into 2 parts:
What’s a story?
At the end of the day, I’m not the only one making content about storytelling.
If you want the definition – just google it. That’s not what this blog is about.
Instead, I’m going to present you with an explanation I found in Ron Biesenbach’s book that applies perfectly to content marketing:
„(...) a story is a character in pursuit of a goal in the face of some challenge or obstacle. "
Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results!
As you can see, there are 3 steps to creating a good story:
- Define a hero
- Set a goal for the character
- Put your hero to a challenge
The challenge at the end implies that the character will try to find a solution to their struggles. And that’s what drives the whole story — in other words: it’s the narrative.
Of course, there are other very important elements of a good story. However, they are all dependent on the kind of story you want to tell. As we try to strip it down to the basics, let’s focus on those 3 ingredients:
#1 Define your hero
The focal point of the story. Your hero (or a character/protagonist) must reflect, at least in some way, the audience you’re telling the story to. Only then will your listeners respond to the story with the proper engagement. I made a full guide that will help you find a good protagonist for your storytelling marketing – make sure to check it out!
#2 Set a goal for your character
Something the protagonist wants to achieve. Remember to make the goal of the protagonist clear, so everyone can see it right away. The goal must be exciting for your listeners. It must spark their eyes as soon as you start telling them about it. In other words, it must be your customer’s goal.
#3 Put your character to a challenge
Find an obstacle that prevents the protagonist from achieving their goal. In storytelling, this challenge is also called an antagonist. Similar to the goal, the challenge must excite your listeners. It is the beginning of the conflict in the story, which brings drama — and the drama will make the story stick to your audience.
How to implement storytelling into marketing copy?
Enough of the talk, let’s get to practice! Below, you'll find some good and bad examples of storytelling elements in content marketing:
Our customers value our app for being intuitive and helpful in resolving all of their everyday struggles.
Which customers? What struggles? What is it all about?
As you can see, in this example, there is exactly NOTHING specific. The customer will simply skim through this sentence and forget about it faster than they read it.
Let’s spice it up a bit:
Our app helped accounting professionals from the US turn all the payroll paperwork into a clear stream of data. Now, each paycheck takes just a few clicks.
Can you see the difference? We’ve got a clear hero (accountants from the US), a struggle (payroll paperwork), and a goal (paycheck with a few clicks). Both the challenge and the goal are exciting and something most accountants will relate to.
Let’s see another example:
After dealing with the system glitch, our customers had a lot of issues to resolve. Luckily, they did it effortlessly with our help.
“A lot of stuff to resolve” — what stuff, for god’s sake?! Once again, nothing is specified here, making the reader or listener confused. What can we do about it?
The system glitch made almost all their marketing campaign data disappear. Luckily, with the restorative backup feature of our servers, they got it all back in less than 24 h. The business could run smoothly again in less than a day.
- A protagonist – a marketing agency
- A challenge – the system glitch
- A goal – is to conduct business safely and efficiently.
Everything’s clear and simple here. Besides, the vision of important business data disappearing can make one’s eyes spark up.
The last example, which is still (unfortunately) vastly popular on product pages of different companies:
Customers who use our product see their marketing improve in just a few days.
Cool – I don’t care. Instead, I’d like to see if this product can change my life or my business. Better yet – how it will do it. Let’s change it up a bit:
SaaS companies achieve a 47% social engagement increase on average by using our marketing automation platform. We monitor when your audience is active and publish your content for you! Make marketing your business a hassle-free experience.
Now we’re talking! A specific character, goal, and challenge – and sharing HOW you can help. Using this kind of specificity ensures your customer will become interested in your brand or product.
Remember, it’s all about them, not about you.
How should you tell your story?
The other part of the “storytelling” is the “telling”. Well, this might be stripped down to a simple explanation of “making sounds with your mouth." But I think there’s something more to it, especially for content marketers.
There is an essential part of content marketing that’s becoming more and more recognized by marketing specialists.
You see, long gone are the days when “content” meant writing a couple of posts on your company’s blog. Today, content marketers are required to at least be familiar with a huge range of widely different areas. To name a few:
- Video Marketing
- Social media (posts, ads, articles)
- Graphic design
- Interactive content
... and the list goes on.
So, we are required to „talk” with our audiences using different media. Now, here’s the trick.
To succeed in content creation, we need to get rid of those quotation marks around the word „talk” and start actually talking with our customers. Having real conversations with our audiences is what makes us stand out. You can’t find two people that talk the same way – that’s your guarantee to become unique!
Even if the information they share with you is identical - their voice, tone, mannerisms, sense of humour, etc. will make your brain clearly distinguish that 2 people are talking to you.
The same rules apply in marketing — no matter how many competitors are out there, NOBODY can talk with your customers like you do.
That’s why it’s crucial to find your brand’s voice. It’s not an easy job to do – but once you’ve discovered how you want to talk to people, every content piece you release will feel more personal and integrated with your product.
Using stories in content marketing – where do I begin?
I know you might have A LOT of questions right now. But as simple as a good story is, getting to the specifics can take a hot second. 😁 Since this post is getting a bit lengthy, I’m gonna stop here and invite you to check out the blog section on my website. In there, you’ll find some articles packed with useful tips & tricks to help you become a great storyteller.
Also – I have a short message I want you to take with you after you finish reading. Let’s get right into it:
Don’t be afraid to use your voice. If you’re talking instead of speaking, people will listen, get curious about you, and respond.
Take care 🤹♂️