“What would be useful for my audience to learn and how can I package this lesson or bit of information in a compelling story format?“—Travis Bernard, content marketing guru at TechCrunch, the leading technology industry blog based in San Francisco, CA
Whaddaya say we learn how to put together a good story for your marketing content? Some people are natural storytellers and others aren’t, but it’s always useful to develop and hone the art of storytelling when one is a public speaker and that includes Freelancers, business owners and sales professionals who must speak with prospective clients to generate sales or billable hours. Your story need not be long and elaborate. In fact, a concise narrative will be more memorable and impactful.
Your content marketing story will describe a client experience journey. The story will feature three main characters—the hero, the villain and the mentor. The story will have a beginning, middle and end. A call-to-action, when you encourage your content reader to act on the information that you’ve shared, will be the story’s epilogue.
The hero of the story will have a problem to solve or avoid, a challenge to overcome, and that is the goal. The hero will be waylaid or deceived by the villain, that is, an obstacle that is preventing him/her from achieving the goal. The hero must seek knowledge and guidance from a mentor during the journey and that is your role, storyteller friend.
Act I is when the hero acknowledges that there is a problem to solve. There is a goal to achieve and an effective solution will be necessary.
Act II will describe the magnitude of the problem and the failures of various less than stellar solutions that the hero has tried and discarded (homegrown remedies or competitive products).
Act III is where you come in, the mentor who helps the hero make sense of the possible solutions and explains how your product or service can resolve the matter. The hero agrees to adopt your product or service and the problem is resolved. The hero looks like a genius to his/her superiors and colleagues.
The Epilogue features the call-to-action, when you show the content reader how to obtain an effective solution for his/her goal, a solution that will overcome the challenge and make the content reader look like a hero to the higher-ups.
Be advised that the hero of the content story is never the product or service. The hero of the story is the protagonist, s/he who takes action and moves the journey forward to its triumphant conclusion. The client is always the hero of the story. You, the storyteller and possessor of expertise, serve as a mentor, to ensure that the hero will prevail and achieve the goal. Your product or service supports the hero by overcoming the challenge and enabling achievement of the goal.
The purpose of your content/ story is to persuade the reader to act upon the information that you’ve delivered. Integral to persuading the reader is to build trust in you as a mentor/ expert and confidence in the solutions that you recommend and provide. You may be able to persuade content readers to give your post a Like, or share it with others. The ultimate validation is when content readers are so confident in your proposed solution that they click through to your website shopping cart or contact you to ask questions about how you might handle a project.
Finally, you’ll need a specific story to tell (and eventually, you’ll have two or three more). Without naming names, your content/ story will the based on a client who has successfully used your product or service. If you will tell your company’s brand story to promote awareness, your content story will illustrate why company founders were motivated to form the venture and include mention of the mission, values and guiding principles.
Client experience journey content stories, or your company’s brand story, can be included in your blog, social media posts, white papers, videos and so on. You’re sure to find that they help prospects envision their own circumstances and how your products or services can be useful.
Thanks for reading,
Photograph: Portrait of Clementina Maude (circa 1862) taken by her mother, Lady Clementina Hawarden (Viscountess Hawarden of England, 1822-1865)