- Is storytelling for SaaS simple?
- Checklist of good storytelling practices
- Make it stick from the beginning
- “Can’t relate” — the worst enemy of stories
- Beginning - middle - end: a bulletproof story structure
- It must be connected — about the cause and effect
- Conflict — the fuel of your story
- Concise language — don’t confuse your listeners.
- Is storytelling in content marketing hard?
Level up your SaaS content marketing with this storytelling checklist!
Hello there, you SaaSy content maniac! (sorry, I had to...)
I'll tell you a secret...
There’s something that will make you better at content marketing than your competitors.
That “something” is called storytelling.
Is storytelling for SaaS simple?
Telling a good story is an art form.
Since the beginning of our civilization, storytelling has been a part of human expression. It’s used to this day to:
- Build communities
- Encourage or prevent behaviours
And that are just a few examples from the top of my head.
Similarly, we can use storytelling in creating content for our businesses. However, incorporating stories into your marketing is not an easy job to do. You can't reach your desired audience and give them the value they'll remember unless you're willing to invest time, effort, and dedication.
Luckily, there are tools that will help you along the way to become a better storyteller and – most importantly – a better content marketer overall.
In this blog post, I'm sharing what works for me - it's a mix of being creative and having a plan so you can stay on track.
Checklist of good storytelling practices
Here's what you need to start creating captivating content with storytelling:
- Begin with a hook
- Use relatable characters
- Structure your story well
- Provide clear cause and effect
- Create tension with good conflict
- Use clear, vivid language
There are only (?) 7 things you need to become better at creating memorable, captivating and effective stories for your customers. Easy stuff, I tell ya!
We’ll start with probably the most important (and usually — most overlooked) part of storytelling in content creation.
Make it stick from the beginning
If you spent a hot second in the content marketing world — you’ve heard about the concept of “stickiness”. So, skip the next paragraph.
"Stickiness" is a term that comes from a book called "Made to Stick", written by Dan Heath. It's the quality of content that makes it effortlessly memorable and easy to spread by word of mouth.
There's one major key point we should focus on:
Make your content matter from the first line.
If you don't want your content to be skimmed and forgotten, you need to do this. With millions of content pieces being published every day, it's easy for something to get lost in the shuffle.
Knowing that — you’re better off making sure you’ve done everything you need to cut through the thick crowd.
Now, let’s talk about some ideas that will help you make the first line of your next content piece stick:
Use numbers - the more impressive, the better:
We spent almost 2000 h researching what type of content works for SaaS businesses.
Surprise your audience with a bold statement:
We don't care about document management - we automate it!
Address the one, specific need of your audience:
We don't care about document management - we automate it!
Use the: “Problem? Solution.” framework
Users not signing up for a free trial? Make it easier - with just 1 click!
(in this example I also included an impressive number - 1. As you can see, sometimes numbers don't need to be big to be impressive.)
Use emotional triggers
Scared of payroll paperwork? We'll take care of it for you!
“Can’t relate” — the worst enemy of stories
Don’t get me wrong – storytelling is great and all. But only under 1 condition.
People MUST relate to the characters in your stories.
There's no point in telling a story if you don't have a hero who your audience can identify with. It brings your message down to earth and makes it more human.
The same rule applies when coming up with a challenge and a goal for your hero. The stakes must be sky-high. Otherwise, you risk having your story fall flat and not being well received by your audience.
Why? It's simple: people don't want to hear or read about problems that don't affect them. You must exercise extreme caution when defining your hero's circumstances, values, and needs. Make sure they are the same for your audience and that they genuinely care about them.
If you want to get more info about building a perfect hero for your next story, I’ve prepared a quick guide for you in another blog post.
Beginning - middle - end: a bulletproof story structure
Your story needs all 3 of those things. I know it might seem obvious but we both know that while producing a piece of content, sometimes we lose ourselves in the process, losing concision of what we needed to convey.
Each of those 3 parts has its specific purpose:
Beginning: is the place where you set the scene and introduce your hero. The beginning ends with an unexpected accident that upsets the balance:
It's payroll week! This month it's not gonna be a complete disaster. Like last month... And the month before. No - this time, you're prepared! You've gathered all the necessary documentation, both on paper and on your computer. Everything's gonna go smoothly and soon your employees will be receiving their paychecks on time, with a big smile. You open your laptop and...
What does that blue screen mean?!
Middle: here you describe the time your hero fights against the challenge and tries to achieve their goal. In my example…
You're sprinting to IT. Your forehead starts to sweat. Your gut is saying: "Oh damn, here we go again with this shitshow...". You storm into the room, begging them to help you resolve this problem quickly. They look at you terrified and right away ask the question: 'Didn't you do an online backup?!'
End: this is the resolution of the story. It’d be perfect to put some kind of moral here or just a piece of “food for thought”. The story doesn’t have to end in a necessarily good way. Sometimes, you need to make your hero suffer to depict the possible events that may happen.
...and now you feel stupid. You should have done that. But who would remember when there are so many other things to keep in mind?! You're right - you don't have to remember. We can do that for you!
I’m obliged to make it clear that there’s no one way to create a story. If you want to make your story unique, and you know it will work with your audience – go for it. Don’t feel limited by this method – use it more like a tool that can help you when things are going in the wrong direction.
Remember – storytelling is equal parts science as it is art. But let’s see another thing to keep in mind when structuring your story:
It must be connected — about the cause and effect
Coincidence is not believable. I am very sceptical when I sometimes encounter people bragging on Twitter about how they’ve become an overnight success out of the blue. In my opinion, they are:
- not recognising enough their hard work done before
- or purposefully decide to never mention it to make it seem they are just THAT good.
Don’t get me wrong – sometimes, accidents actually happen. However, if you want your audience to believe in your story and trust you from the start – you need to include the casuality.
- “X happened so, Y happened”
- “He did this, so this became possible”
- “Change that, so you'll achieve that”
Those are some examples of good use of cause and effect in your storytelling. It’s clear, easy to comprehend and more memorable than just a simple:
Become a master of graphic design!
Okay, cool - but how?!
With just a simple tweak, we can achieve something like:
Use the power of AI to generate ideas and become a master of graphic design!
Can you spot the difference? Here we give the customer a clear reason behind them becoming masters of graphic design.
(BTW - such a cool idea for a product! I THOUGHT OF THAT FIRST!)
Always make sure your story has a clear chain of events.
Conflict — the fuel of your story
Conflict is an essential part of storytelling. It brings DRAMA! ✨ And that’s what makes our audience say: “I’m all ears." If you want to be a great storyteller and make compelling content – you need to look for perfect conflicts in your stories.
“How should I do it?” you may ask.
Well – there’s no easy way out here. Content creation has become a challenging part of marketing. But, the harder it gets, the more ROI it seems to bring to companies.
Let's get to work then!
Conflict is the tension between what our hero wants to achieve and the challenge in front of them.
To create a perfect conflict and catch the attention of your audience, you need to show that before the resolution, the life of the hero was... a complete mess!
So, instead of this:
The glitch in the system caused a lot of problems in the company. Luckily, our team of professionals quickly resolved the issue and helped the company get back to work in less than a day.
Go for something like this:
The company got all their lost financial data back in less than a day. All thanks to the backup feature of our server. Every 24h we do a full backup of data our clients upload to the servers to ensure no glitch will interrupt your workflow.
Concise language — don’t confuse your listeners.
When you become a content marketing specialist, you give yourself a new set of possibilities to see the bigger picture in marketing while providing priceless value for every customer at every stage of their buying journey.
Daaamn, that’s a helluva long sentence. Did you understand anything from it? I wrote it and I’m having trouble finding out what I meant.
Let’s change it up a bit:
Being a content marketing specialist gives you a new perspective on marketing and allows you to provide value for customers throughout their buying journey.
Now we’re talking! With just a few tweaks, we removed unnecessary fluff from the text, making it clear and easier to read.
Readability is a big topic that deserves yet another series of blog posts. But the main points I want you to take away from this section are:
- Don’t overcomplicate – if something can be said with fewer words, tell it that way. Your customers are already busy – don’t use more of their time than absolutely necessary.
- Use words a 7 y.o. would understand – nobody will like you more just because you use “effervescent”, “Sesquipedalian” or “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (unless you’re actually jamming to Mary Poppins – that’s the only case allowed!)
- Keep the narrative in your story alive and captivating by breaking down long paragraphs. It helps you build tension and keeps a good flow of the whole story.
Is storytelling in content marketing hard?
Creating good content marketing stories doesn't have to be difficult. You can produce both entertaining and informative stories, with a little planning and effort. This guide provides you with some things to remember when creating content marketing stories.
So what are you waiting for? Take this guide, apply it to the next piece of content you produce and let me know how it went!
Take care 🤹♂️