How Content Marketing is Like Storytelling


Content marketing is about connecting with human beings—and human beings thrive on story. That’s why all good marketers know that the crux of good content marketing comes back to same form of communicating that’s been around since the dawn of time: story. When you understand how content marketing and storytelling are alike, you’re better prepared to reach your target audience.

With that in mind, consider the following:

1. You Need a Compelling Story to Draw Clients. Not every story is worth following, so just because your brand is telling stories to its audience doesn’t mean those stories are worthwhile.

Think about what makes a story compelling to listeners—it grabs your attention, it’s different from other stories, it’s relatable, and makes the listener consider his or her own experiences in life. So before you begin telling a story that will bore your listeners to tears, ask yourself if it’s relevant and will be meaningful to your audience.

2. Your Story Has a Hero—and It’s Not You. Many brands make the mistake of thinking their customers are ready and waiting to hear all about “me, me, and me.” Here’s the truth: Your customers care about your brand most when they see how it matters to them. Realize it’s your customer who is the hero of your plot, not you, and focus on showing him or her why your products meet a need or add value.

3. People Like to Look behind the Scenes. Human beings are naturally curious, so sharing information they don’t expect to learn is a great way to grab their interest. Look for ways to use content marketing—from infographics to Instagram photos to blog posts—to give your audience a peek behind the scenes of your brand.

4. There Are Many Ways to Share Stories. Sure, storytelling started orally, but today there are many ways to share a story that are outside the box. From Twitter to email newsletters to whitepapers, look at every medium as a method for reinforcing the story of your company and how it betters your customers’ lives.

The bottom line with content marketing is that it’s about your customer. Find a way to capture your audience’s interest and show them why you matter, and you find a way to build your business over time.


Tips for Making the Most of Storytelling in Content Marketing:

To further expand your potential for reaching customers through story, consider the following tips. Follow these guidelines to make the most of stories in your marketing efforts.

• Be Organized: The overarching message of your brand should be broken down into meaningful chunks and pieces over time. Plan an editorial calendar that incorporates blog posts, email blasts, and so on. Assign members of your team to different components, and ensure your individual pieces fit easily into the larger whole.

• Think about Your Sales Cycle: Look at the ways customers come to you. How do your leads turn into clients? Map out the sales cycle for your typical customer and assign particular pieces of content to each step of the process. You might use PPC ads to bring customers to your site, for example, but then a landing page to direct them to your products information.

At the products page, you could feature a testimonial video that tells visitors more of what they’d gain from buying what you sell. Then, after someone has made a purchase, you might follow up with a discount email—“15% off your next purchase!” or “Free shipping with $25 or more of products.” Mapping content to your sales cycle maximizes its power.

• Set Specific Goals: No marketing is as effective as it can be without goals. Set clear, specific goals for what you hope to achieve from your content marketing. Do you want new leads? A boost in sales? Better branding that can be measured through increases in Facebook fans or emails from prospects? Nail down highly specific metrics with which you can measure results.

• Measure Results: After setting your goals, find ways to measure them. Set specific benchmarks: number of Twitter followers, percentage of new prospects, or amount of increase in sales, for example. Then, if you’re looking to build Web traffic, set trackers to reveal who comes to your site. If you’re after boosted sales, have measuring tools in place. Over time, as you watch results, you know what aspects of your content marketing should be tweaked.

Your Thoughts:
Have you already considered the ways content marketing is like storytelling? How else might you use principles of good stories to help your brand?


Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a marketing agency providing specialized SEO, Web development, blog marketing strategy and other online marketing services, with headquarters in Chicago. Follow Straight North on Twitter and Facebook.


Image Credit:  shutterstock

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