The Art Of Storytelling In Content Marketing

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January 9, 2022
27min

"Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today" - Robert McKee


Is it a cliché? Of course. But every cliché has something to it, so without further ado, let's get started, shall we.


You can apply this quote virtually anywhere in life. And what it really means is that in order to move the needle or get a particular message across, you have to create vivid pictures in people's brains. Pictures, they can relate to. Images that provoke certain emotions.


This is even more true when it comes to marketing - a world dominated by noise and information overload. Without good stories that complement your product, you'll never be able to even make the slightest dent in people's lives and your products, no matter how mind-blowing they are, will most certainly die sitting on a shelf or in a box.


Long story (pun intended) short, it's difficult to sell, inspire, or transpire in today's maze of competition without storytelling. Your product is only as good as your marketing around it. It's f%!ed up, but it's the truth. And your marketing is only as good as the stories that people remember. Less f%!ed up but also the truth.


You can think of storytelling as a tool to communicate and connect with people. And storytelling through content marketing is the most powerful way to move your products or services off the shelves today and put ideas into people's minds, build relationships, trust, and ultimately be successful in business.


Simples!

What are some scenarios you can tell stories about?

There are endless possibilities when it comes to storytelling. For example, you could share stories about your personal experiences, customer experiences, or even fictional stories that are related to your brand in some way. 


You could also tell stories about industry news, trends, or anything else that your audience would find interesting. As long as you're able to capture people's attention and connect with them on an emotional level, you can tell any story you want.


There are also various storytelling formats that you can use in your content marketing campaigns. Some of the most popular forms of telling a story are through videos, storytelling through images or storytelling through blogs.

Different Brand Storytelling techniques


Storytelling formats and when to use them | Videos

Storytelling through videos is one of the most popular storytelling formats. Videos are a great way to capture your viewers' attention and connect with them on an emotional level. They're also a great way to share your brand story and promote your products or services.


There are various types of videos that you can use in your storytelling efforts, such as explainer videos, corporate videos, testimonial videos, and product launch videos.


When to use what storytelling video?

Explainer videos are a great way to introduce your clients to your brand and explain what your products or services do. Corporate videos are perfect for sharing your company's story and promoting your brand image, while testimonial videos show off your products or services and get feedback from your customers. Last but not least, product launch videos are used for advertising your new products or services - duh.


Storytelling formats and when to use them | Images

Images can be an effective storytelling tool, but they should be used sparingly and only when they add value to the story. Too many images can clutter your content and make it difficult to read while using the wrong image can distract from your message. 


When deciding whether or not to use an image, ask yourself the following questions:


  • Is the image relevant to the story?
  • Does it help illustrate the point you're trying to make?
  • Is it high quality, and does it look professional?
  • Is it appropriate for your audience?
  • Will it make people want to click through to read more?


If the answer to any of these questions is no, then don't. You're probably better off not using an image at all. However, with every art form, there are expectations. Sometimes you might want to "overuse" something to create a specific effect. 


As a rule of thumb; Use that pretty brain of yours. Less is more. Quality over quantity. Do small things with great love. Bla Bla Bla. Do you see what we did there?!


Types of images you can use to enhance your story

There are many different types of storytelling images, but some of the most common ones are:

- Photos

- Illustrations

- Charts and graphs

- infographics

- Animated GIFs

- Memes


The goal is to illustrate the point your trying to make. Remember that!

Storytelling meme


Storytelling formats and when to use them | Blogs

Blogs are the perfect storytelling platform when you want to share longer stories or when you want to delve into more detail about a particular topic. 


They're also great for building an ongoing relationship with your fanbase, as you can post new content regularly. For example, you can use blogs to share case studies, customer stories, or even just interesting facts and statistics about your industry. Just like we're doing with this one!


Types of blogs you can use to communicate

There are a few different types of blogs you can use to communicate with your readers. When it comes to storytelling, each style has its own merits that are worth exploring.


Here are a few of the most common types of blogs companies use to convey their messages:

Industry blog

This blog is all about sharing news and information about your industry. You can use it to share new trends, insights, and data, as well as to highlight your company's work within the industry.


If you're in an industry with a relatively low profile, like financial services or engineering, this type of storytelling is particularly beneficial because it shows the human side to your business. Consumers will come to see you as experts who are really close to what's happening within your industry.

Customer story blog

This type of blog is all about telling your customers' stories. You can use it to share case studies, customer profiles, and even just customer quotes. 


This storytelling format is great for building trust, as it shows that your buyers are real people who use your services. It also shows how you help them and why they love using your products or services.


Customer story blogs are more of a personal storytelling platform than an industry storytelling one. However, they definitely still show off what you do within the market.

Resource blog

This type of blog is all about sharing resources with your target market. You can use it to share helpful articles, infographics, eBooks, etc. 


This type of blog can be especially useful if your industry information is complicated or dense or if it's not easy to understand. You can use resource blogs to simplify the information and make it accessible for your users.

Brand storytelling blog

This type of storytelling blog tells your brand's story through content marketing. It shares stories about the development of your company, the people who work for you, and the products or services you offer. A storytelling brand blog is ideal if you want to build a loyal community around your brand.


There are many ways you can use storytelling in your content marketing strategy. For example, you could share case studies of how your product or service has benefitted past users. You could tell stories about the people who work for you and what they bring to the table. Or, you could write blog posts that show off different aspects of your company. The goal is to give people a glimpse behind the curtain!

Company blog

This type of blog is all about talking about your company. You can use it to tell your company's story, share information about your team, or even just to answer FAQs from users.


This storytelling approach is excellent for building relationships with your audience because you give them information straight from the horse's mouth. As a result, they're getting to know your business and seeing what makes you tick, which is a great way to build trust and loyalty.

Whitepapers

Whitepapers are great for storytelling too! They are long, in-depth documents used to educate potential buyers about a particular topic or issue. 


Whitepapers are typically used to introduce a new product or service or explain how a particular product or service works. When writing a whitepaper, it's important to remember to keep it clear and concise. You don't want to overwhelm your readers with too much information at once. 


So instead, break your document down into easy-to-read sections, and use lots of visuals to help illustrate your points.


What storytelling actually is to marketing

Storytelling has been used for centuries as a way to connect with people. It is one of the oldest forms of communication and is still used today to engage and entertain audiences. 


In marketing, a good story aims to move the needle by reaching customers and telling their brand story. Storytelling essentially is content marketing, and if you're not telling a story, you're simply sharing facts or retelling a story that will bore people to death - guaranteed!


Hence the quote at the beginning of this piece. No doubt a cliche. Overused? Perhaps. But, it underscores the importance of storytelling in marketing. A good marketer knows how to paint a vivid picture in people's brains to engage and entertain them.


Without storytelling, it's fair to say that there would be no way for companies to connect with their audiences and communicate about their brands effectively. Stories create connections which in turn create profits.


It's storytelling that is used to inspire, motivate and turn users into fans.

The best storytellers in the modern age are the men and women behind motion picture giants like Pixar and Disney, but storytelling doesn't need to entail fancy cameras and lavish sets; it can be as simple as a good marketing campaign. 


Again we're emphasizing this point here. Storytelling is content marketing, and content marketing is storytelling. Marketers who know how to have fun with this will always be the ones that get ahead.


What makes a good story?

It's not just up to your imagination as a writer. What you need is a unique style of storytelling techniques that engage audiences. Your number one goal as a storyteller is to make people feel something. It's human nature for people to want to feel something. 


Why do you think some movies are sad, or comedians are funny? A good storyteller makes sure their stories inspire! They make people react - good or bad. Positive or negative. That's where the power lies.

How to guide to create a good story | Source: https://twitter.com/jarredamato


Don't be afraid of storytelling cliches.

Yes, storytelling cliches have been done to death, but audiences expect them now. At least from those writers who can create a new spin on old stories. Just look at the Red Riding Hood story - the girl gets lost in the woods, is attacked by a wolf dressed as her grandmother, saves herself with a kiss from a woodcutter. In today's cinema and TV storytelling world, new takes on old tales have been used to great effect.


Long gone are the days of storytelling being linear narratives limited to just one plot. Instead, modern storytelling has embraced multiple plotlines and storytelling styles to create something unique. 


So don't overthink this! Re-use, re-recycle, re-purpose whatever you like and make it your own stories. Be creative with it, and don't just straight up copy! It's lame. It's lazy. Good storytelling is owned, not copied.


The difference between good stories and great storytelling

Good stories start with good content. Obviously! If you don't know what good content is, this article might help to get the basics right. But there's more. Much more.

Good stories are all about delivering a message that engages and entertains your audience. It's the art of moving people to feel something. Whether it's laughter, sadness, anger, or joy. 


If you can evoke an emotion in your readers, you have a good story. It's really that simple. Usually, stories belong to the storyteller. They are drawn from personal experiences and used to form an emotional connection with the audience.


Great storytelling, on the other hand, takes it one step further. Not only does it engage and entertain readers, but it also educates them and inspires them to take action. 


Just like other art forms, this takes time and experience. Michael Jordan didn't become the GOAT over night, and neither will you become the GOAT of storytelling after a few attempts. This shit requires dedication and practice. Let's talk about practice. We talkin bout practice?!?

Allen Iverson talkin about practice


Enough with the Basketball quotes already! Anyway, the bottom line is that If you can achieve all three – engagement, education, and inspiration – then you've mastered the art of storytelling.


The purpose of storytelling in marketing

In the business world, storytelling can help us convey who we are, what our company stands for and why our products are so much better than the rest. 


With storytelling being one of the oldest forms of communication out there, it's about time it was embraced in marketing to communicate effectively with audiences and markets.


A captivating story requires more than just written stories. It's an art form that has to be worked on just like any other form of art if you want your storytelling marketing campaign (or pitch) to stand out from the pack.


Compelling storytelling in marketing means ensuring our stories have a clear purpose, from conveying company values to creating emotional connections. 


We should remember that storytelling is a brand's voice, so the story you tell about your business should reflect its identity. At the same time, storytelling can also help build social media engagement by getting people emotionally involved with the content we create. 


The goal of storytelling in marketing campaigns is to paint a picture in people's brains that will engage and entertain them. If your marketing isn't storytelling, you're simply sharing facts or retelling a story we've heard before, which can be deadly dull.


Telling stories helps marketers put their audience at the heart of their campaigns. Remember, your audience is the heart of your business. Without fans or clients, you don't have a business. It's as straightforward as that.

How storytelling affects marketing

Storytelling has been a part of marketing for as long as marketing has been around. It's one of the oldest methods of communication known to man, and it's just as powerful now as its been 300 years ago. 


In fact, it may even be more important in marketing today than ever before, thanks to the emergence of the internet and the overwhelming amount of content that is now available to consumers.

Using storytelling in content marketing

Competition. Competition. Competition. Do we have to say more? It's a jungle out there, and the only way out is meaningful messages that hit people right in that sweet spot. Zeroing in on your sweet spot is the beginning, the middle and the end of your storytelling process.


Sweet what?!!


Exactly... essentially everybody can tell a story, but not everyone has the ability to do it well. Just like cooking. In theory, everyone can chef up a few eggs or prepare a salad, but the quality probably ranges from total garbage to eww to disgusting to wow to FOOD PORN.


Same with producing great content. Creating meaningful storytelling takes time and effort on multiple levels—from conceptualization to writing to publishing, it's an art. Yes, a freaking art!


So let's have a look at what distinguishes good from great stories. 


For starters, you have to know your audience and what makes them tick (or, in most cases, what makes them flash their wallets). 


But you know that already. And the guy next to you probably knows it too. Your competition? Also! 


So what else is it then that makes a story a fucking masterpiece that draws people in to basically tell you, "Shut up, and take all my money."

It's actually pretty basic. 


Each story has 5 components.

  • The character / The characters
  • The setting or idea
  • The conflict (personal connection)
  • The resolution

Now, applying this to market a product or a service might trip you out, so we're breaking it down into 5 ingredients every good story in marketing should have.

Basic Elements of storytelling



Key ingredients to master the art of storytelling

Know your audience

To tell a great story, you need to know who you're telling it to. Who are they? What do they want? What are their interests? What are their pain points? Knowing your audience is essential to creating content that resonates with them and engages them.


When you know your audience, you can better understand what type of stories will connect with them. For example, some audiences prefer more factual, informational content, while others prefer a more emotional approach.


Again, you have to nail this one because great content targeted at the wrong audience will not work! Likewise, bad content targeted at the right audience will not work!


Creating content that resonates with your audience is key in building trust and connecting with them.

Make them care

Brand storytelling is all about making your audience care. You have to find a way to connect with them and engage them, drawing them in with a meaningful and relevant story. You have to produce interesting and entertaining content, and at the same time, "fixes" their problems and issues.


Think of storytelling as a creative way of solving people's problems because that's essentially the crux of it all.


The story draws them in. Makes them listen. The product or service fixes their problems. Nailed it!


Set the Scene

So, a short recap. You know your audience, and you figured out how to draw them in (make them care). 


The next thing up is to set the scene. You can now begin to introduce elements of the story that are familiar to them. Details that make them feel comfortable. 


This could be a physical setting, such as a location, or it could be a more abstract setting, such as a time period or emotional state. The goal is to leave them with an impression of "Hey, I've been there before."


For example, imagine you're selling surfboards online but want to create content about surfing in general without explicitly targeting leads interested in buying surfboards. In that case, one clever storytelling tactic is to set the story at a beach or in some location related to surfing. The story's context becomes familiar to most readers right away because most people have either visited a beach or know what it looks like.


At this point, you can draw them in by sharing interesting information they might not know about surfing or surfboards. This would create interest which might leave them open to purchasing even though that wasn't necessarily their intention in the first place.


This is also the time and place where you need to establish the conflict of the story. What is the problem that needs to be solved? What is at stake?


Make it relatable

One of the golden rules of storytelling is to make it relatable. You want your audience to be able to see themselves in your story and identify with the characters and the conflict.


This is especially important when it comes to brand storytelling. You want customers to feel like they are a part of your story and connected to you and your brand.


When customers feel that your product or service is for them, they are more likely to trust you and be loyal to you. They are also more likely to recommend you to others.


So next time you whip up an ad copy or social media caption, think about how you can make your storytelling more relatable. How can you connect with your audience on a deeper level?


Know your punchline

Storytelling is all about the journey, not the destination. The goal is to keep your audience engaged and interested, making sure they are hooked on your story. Leave room for interpretation but only just enough for them to be eager to find out what happens next. Let's be honest; we all like a happy ending. Give them that! But not before you put them through a story that evokes their emotional senses.

Finish with a boom

When it comes to storytelling, you want to leave your audience with a feeling of satisfaction, of having been on an exciting journey. You want them to feel like they've learned something. That they've experienced something new. 


The best way to do this is to end your story with a boom, with a twist or a turn that leaves them wanting more.


Think about how you can end your story in a way that will leave your audience wanting more. In other words; You need to resolve the conflict. How is the problem solved? What is the outcome?

Compelling stories get the bread


Know your audience, make them care, set the scene, make it relatable, know your punchline, finish with a boom.


Now that you know the basics of storytelling, it's time to put them into practice. Start by figuring out who your audience is and what interests them. Once you've drawn them in, set the scene and make it relatable. Introduce familiar elements and make sure to resolve the conflict in a satisfying way. 


Leave your audience wanting more by finishing with a boom, and you'll bottom line will thank you.


You're welcome!

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