#FreelanceFriday: Once Upon a Time… The Power of Storytelling in Content Marketing

August 11th, 2017 by Chris Henson

This blog is part of our Freelance Friday series, where we discuss everything and anything related to freelancers. For more freelance information, tips, and trends, follow us on Twitter.

Once upon a time, there was a lonely copywriter. All day long, he wrote blogs and web content, press releases and social media posts. He spent hours toiling away at his computer, but no one ever seemed to care about what he wrote. Saddened by this, yet hungry to improve his plight, he set off on a perilous journey across the mysterious internet to find greater purpose in his writing.

His journey brought him far and wide–from the slippery slopes of search rankings in the north to the massive backlink mines in the south. Along the way, he fought the bloated keyword stuffing behemoth and the two-headed monster of duplicate content, but he never felt any closer to his ultimate quest. Dire and lost, he thought he would never find the answer.

When he had all but given up hope, the Content King appeared to him. Impressed by the copywriter’s perseverance and quest for knowledge, the Content King gave the copywriter one final test to prove his worth.

The Content King asked the determined copywriter to describe his long journey and all that he had accomplished so far. Bolstered by his newfound experience, the copywriter recalled his voyage with great energy, weaving a cohesive narrative sprinkled with all the right details. The Content King ooh-ed and ahh-ed and gasped in all the right places.

When he was done, the copywriter felt confident and proud. He knew this was just the boost he needed to continue his quest. He thanked the Content King and told him he was ready to set off again. The Content King chuckled and told him there was no need. He had already found the answer—for the power of storytelling is the true key to writing amazing content!

Once upon a time..the power of storytelling in content marketing - Search Influence

Everyone loves a great story. We learn from them. Stories can convey a wide range of emotions. They pique curiosity and are meant to be shared.

From a marketing perspective, stories are also more interesting to read than standard copywriting. They also help garner trust between the storyteller and reader. With a story, a reader can establish just how much your business matches their needs and interests.

Ultimately, your goal is to sell your audience something. But first, focus on having a conversation with your audience—that will open them up more to the sale. Telling a story adds humanity to any sales pitch, and the overwhelming majority of purchase decisions are influenced by emotion.

Storytelling can be applied to any form of content writing—from blog posts and social media to newsletters and videos. The key is knowing your audience and appealing to them. Think about what emotion you want to communicate and plan to how to bring that out on paper (or on the screen).

Knowing this, how do you translate that into writing better content? Here are 5 ways to incorporate storytelling into your content creation:

Create Characters, Structure, and Drama

It is said that there are only 7 basic story plots (the quest, overcoming the monster, rags-to-riches, etc.). Every story must have a beginning, middle, and end—or in literary terms, an introduction, rising action, and climax. So, how do these basic plots and the traditional 3-act structure fit into content marketing?

First, you set your scene and introduce your main character. In marketing, this character is the main connection between you and the target audience, aka the customer. Because of this, it must be compelling and relatable.

Next, create conflict (physical, emotional, psychological). Your audience needs to empathize with your story. Drama makes everything seem more real. For this, you really have to know your audience and their buyer’s journey.

And finally, you’ll have to read to the end of this post for the third act….

Personalize and Relate to Your Audience

To get a reader to identify closely with the story, personalization and parallels are key. Telling the story from either your perspective or a related person’s point-of-view will help provide that connection and evoke empathy by sharing experiences, problems, and concerns. Being authentic is another important factor in making this connection. Without authenticity, you lose credibility.

Get emotional - Search Influence

Get Emotional

Storytelling is an imaginative and clever way to get people to feel something. Stories spark emotions. People can feel happy, sad, afraid, and angry, as well as multiple layers of each, often overlapping another.  This complex nature of emotions is what makes storytelling so effective in marketing.

Studies show content that evokes emotion is more popular, and those that leave the reader happy (as opposed to sad) are more likely to go viral. What people share on social media proves this every day When crafting a story, decide what emotion you want to arouse and then provide the necessary information and support for the reader to arrive at that emotion.

Don’t Just Tell Something, Show It

You want your targeted audience to know about the benefits and advantages you are offering. Do not just tell them matter-of-factly, but rather show them with a story. Integrate these crucial tidbits into the story and fill it will examples, details, and data so that your audience can experience and connect with these elements, and hopefully, make decisions based on the experience. Blankly stating a benefit or advantage will not cut it—they need to be shown how and why.

Give a resolution - Search Influence

Give a Resolution

Finally, in Act 3, you resolve the conflict. The resolution should be your company and the products/services that you offer coming to the rescue. It fulfills the purpose behind the story. To seal the deal, the resolution should also include a clear call-to-action for your audience. And don’t forget, everyone likes a happy ending!