How To Create Meaningful Stories In The Competitive World Of Content
The average person spends 490 minutes each day consuming media. That’s 8 hours every single day.
Television is still hanging onto its dominance of our attention at 3 hours per day, but the internet is a close second. And by 2017 the web will take over the top spot, as Millennials currently spend an average of 5 hours per day on their mobile devices. For companies, that means that what goes on those screens is critical. You’re competing with other businesses, news sites, and entertainment for consumers’ attention.
In order to reach consumers online, you need to do more than just publish content regularly. You need to create content that they actually want to consume, that matters to them. In this noisy environment, your number one asset is a compelling story.
Business owners, teams within large businesses, solopreneurs, and individual salespeople all use stories to help sell themselves and their ideas. The more compelling your story, the better chance you have of reaching people.
But what does compelling storytelling look like in action?
- You need a great title or “hook.” Every post you write, every piece of content you develop, needs to start with a header or title that intrigues the reader. This does not mean using “click bait” or misleading headlines.
Use powerful, emotional words when possible, and make sure that your headline lets the reader know what they can get out of your post. This is not the time to be poetic and cute. If your headline doesn’t inform the reader of the value inside, they won’t continue on. You can learn a lot from Brian Clark, founder of Rainmaker Digital, about how to become adept at writing headlines.
- It isn’t about you. One mistake many people make is not putting themselves in their audience’s shoes. Just because your story is interesting to you does not make it interesting to your reader. We all love hearing about ourselves… but not so much about other people if we aren’t connected to them. What part of your story will resonate with your reader? How do you pull them in your story with you? How do you make sure that the story you tell has universal resonance?
- Your story needs an arc that your reader wants to follow. Great stories aren’t told as much as they are built. Your story shouldn’t read like a college essay, but build it in chronological order to allow the reader to follow you to your destination. The great NPR storyteller Ira Glass has a fabulous 4 part series on storytelling that helps to reset your thinking on how great stories are told. Your business story shouldn’t be built any differently. It doesn’t have to be boring and dry.
- How will you entice the reader? Don’t give away the entire story from the beginning. Anyone who has sat through a sales presentation has seen the typical dry arrangement most companies put together. They start with listing the strong position they hold in the market, and continue with a series of features and benefits with no effort to get the audience to see themselves in the story. Wouldn’t it be much more compelling if there was a bit of suspense involved? If the salesperson started from an earlier point, talking about the client’s challenges and asked questions that the audience wants answers to?
- Make the customer the hero. This is where you can use word of mouth marketing to the fullest by allowing your customers to tell their stories about your brand. Ann Handley talks about this often, and about creating a “culture of contribution.” Make it easy for your customers to share their stories about you.
- What makes you unique? Not everyone can be a special unicorn, but you must have some qualities that make you stand apart from your competitors. What are they, and what do they mean to your customers? One that shows you resolving a unique issue or coming to the aid of a customer because of your unique qualities?
- Be unrelenting with your editing. Great writers speak often of how important editing is, and it is no different in business storytelling. Creating a compelling story doesn’t happen overnight – it is a process. you must be unrelenting in your editing process. If parts of your story are boring, cut them out.
- The process is how you will get to the compelling story. When you sit down to write your marketing/branding/business story keep in mind that the good stuff won’t come instantly. Storytelling is a process. You will need to work hard to distil your message down to the essential, interesting elements. The process itself begets the good stuff, so prepare yourself for creating your compelling story to include hard work.
Here are three great models of brand storytelling to learn from:
- Google Search: Reunion. A story that tugs at our emotions while proving the effectiveness of Google Search.
- Warby- Parker. Their marketing story sets them up as a noble David fighting a greedy Goliath, and it lets us understand that the buyer wins when they succeed.
- Dollar Shave Club. The compelling brand story is that the consumer has long been aware that they are being duped by the high price of razors, and Dollar Club comes to the rescue of smart shoppers.
For more great marketing insights, watch the recording of our webinar All Cylinders Go: How to Supercharge Your Marketing to Drive Growth and Profitability. Marketing expert, Shelly Kramer shares valuable tips on how to supercharge your marketing in 2017 and beyond. Watch here.