Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440. The first radio news program was broadcast in 1920, and the television became commercially available around the same time. The World Wide Web came to life in 1991. Facebook is 11 years old, and Twitter is nine.
When you think of popular marketing tools of all time, you probably think of print, radio, TV, and social media. However, there’s one very important tool that’s often overlooked: storytelling.
Storytelling has been around for thousands of years, and it’s practically ingrained in us from the time we’re born. Think about your childhood and that story that you wanted to hear just one more time. Maybe it’s Green Eggs and Ham or one of the Harry Potter books. Whatever it is, there’s a story out there that has a powerful effect on your heart and mind every time you hear it.
Storytelling plays an important part in content marketing, and if you’re not already telling a story through your content, you’re missing out an opportunity to better engage with your audience. When it comes to content marketing, storytelling involves taking your audience on a journey. It means giving your audience something to root for and connect with.
Storytelling in Content Marketing
Content marketing relies on the written word to transmit messages that are thoughtful, compelling, and memorable. Companies like GoPro, Nike, Apple, and Under Armour Women have mastered the art of storytelling with their content. They’ve all found ways to create content that truly connects with their audience.
You may be thinking, “but my product/service isn’t as cool as all of those brands.” Every brand, regardless of how “boring,” has something special about their product or service. You have some value to offer your audience, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business. Storytelling is about finding that value and conveying it to your audience in a way that they can connect with.
Tips for Telling a Story With Your Content
The most successful content begins with one thing: a story. But what does that really mean, and what does it look like when it’s put into action? In the context of content marketing, here are some tips on how to tell a powerful story:
1. Embody your core values
The reason that companies like GoPro and Apple are so successful with storytelling is because their stories embody their core values. When you read (or watch) one of their ads, you know who they are and what they stand for. Your values should be at the heart of all of your stories and content. But remember - you have to do more than just state your values. You also need to be sure that everyone in the company embodies them as well.
2. Show, don’t tell
You probably heard this from your high school English teacher all the time, but it’s especially true in content marketing. You can’t just tell people the benefits of your product or service and expect them to believe you. If you want your audience to understand these benefits, you need to show them through a story that gives specific information and examples. Dawn did a great job of this with their “saving wildlife” commercials after the BP Oil Spill. Watch it, and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
3. Take advantage of your brand evangelists
Consumers trust the opinions of other consumers. You can work all day to develop a great story that connects with your audience, but it will never be as effective as a story that comes from one of your brand evangelists. You can take your content marketing to a new level if you find ways to tell the stories of your brand evangelists.
4. Leave room for interpretation
A great story allows your audience to feel and react in their own ways. Although you should have a clear idea in mind of what you want people to take away, there needs to be some room for personal interpretation. For example, Under Armour Women’s “I Will What I Want” campaign is fairly straightforward - they’re telling women to go after what they want without waiting for approval or permission from others. But the beauty of this campaign is that each woman who sees the campaign will feel something different, and they will have their own personal takeaways on how to be fearless. Allowing your audience to forge their own opinion(s) will help them build a personal connection with your brand and story.
People love stories. There’s no way around it. When you accept this fact, you can use it to your brand’s advantage. By embodying your core values, showing your audience what you want to tell them, and using the stories of brand evangelists, you’ll be able to create engaging and captivating content for your brand that resonates with your audience.