Tell Me a Story: The Art and Craft of Meaningful Messaging

Written By &Marketing

On June 11, 2018

Content marketing is everywhere. A quick google search leads to thousands of items hawked by hundreds of companies, each trying to outdo the other and gain that all-important conversion. In this world of abundant information, how can you rise above the fray? How can you convince a prospect that your product or service beats the others?

Stop selling. Start telling.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

Most people instinctively want to prove their widget is better with fancy graphs and statistics. They’ll use the latest and greatest jargon and pepper their prose with awkward acronyms. They might even explain a before and after or use astonishingly amazing alliteration. But they often miss the point—what really sets you apart isn’t the quality of your product or the expertise of your service—it’s your story.

What is a story?

Apologies to English teachers everywhere, but content marketing stories don’t necessarily have to follow a traditional five-step character arc. Brands should focus on telling stories that are:

  • Simple. Many companies want to include every bit of information in every piece of content, or convey too much technical information. This is especially difficult for those in highly technical industries. Your customer may not be on the tech side; even if they are, they don’t want to be bombarded with detailed specifications at first glance.
  • Emotional. Don’t worry, we don’t mean your software solution has to make grown men cry. An emotional impact can be as simple as your prospect imagining the feeling of relief she’ll get when her product is FDA compliant. A better world is possible—you can make it happen.
  • Actionable. Don’t be coy. Make life easy on your prospect by painting a picture of what happens next. What can they expect? Don’t explain that it works—explain how it works. Then, most importantly, follow through.
  • Authentic. Tread carefully. You know you’re not being real when you’re trying too hard to be real. Consumers are cynical and savvy, they can spot disingenuousness a mile away. Don’t tell them the story you think they want to hear—tell the one that matters.

Here’s the catch: brand stories are best told by storytellers. Subject matter experts are rarely capable of crafting a compelling story. Your engineers are likely actual geniuses, your CEO a dynamic and visionary leader. But even if they are excellent weavers of words and tellers of tales, they’re too close. A talented marketing team can build a brand with insights even the founder couldn’t imagine. And of course, even if your engineers are secretly experts in product launches, their time is likely better spent perfecting their product or ideating a new one.

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