Whether you work within content marketing or not, you will be hard pushed not to have seen or heard some sort of reference to story telling. So what is it all about and why is it so important to business owners? Think of any great storyteller – Hemingway, Dahl, Orwell – what is the one thing that connects them all? Answer: The ability to draw in and captivate their audience in those first few precious moments. Graphic descriptions, a way with words, strong visuals all bring alive the readers imagination.
So what lessons can businesses learn from these great storytellers. Here I outline four key components to start you on the journey to create inspirational communications.
1) What is your story?
Like any good book what would the synopsis on the back cover say about your business? Its important to be single minded and ruthless so that any customer is in no doubt about what you offer. So be strict with yourself and dig deep to really interrogate what is the one thing you want to communicate. Think about what inspired you to do what you do? What makes you different from the competition? Who is your audience? And try not to get distracted by waffle, keep it simple and importantly be real and genuine.
2) Tell your story but tell it well
You’re full of ideas and the entrepreneurial spirit is flying high. You know what your story is about and its relevance to your audience so now you have to take them on that journey.
To effectively get your message across in this oh so crowded world we live in, a strategy needs to be developed to convert the “What” you want to say into “How” you say it. The vision for your business can be brought to life with appropriate strands of your brand personality and visual identity so that your story gets told in a memorable way. Just as an author defines the genre of their book – fact or fiction; a dark thriller or lighted hearted romance the same applies to any business. The words you use, the images you use will set the tone that is unique to your business.
There is an old expression we used in the corporate world “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle”.
3) Structure the story
Stucture is key. Although you have one business or brand vision no doubt there will be tens if not hundreds of individual strands of information that map back to it. From the location you are in, the intricate & quality details of your product, the knowledge and friendliness of your team to the call to action information such as events and promotion offers. Throwing all of this at you customer at the same time would of course make it overwhelming and impossible for them to take out the salient points. So enter stage left a serious of planning tools that help to sift, plan and publish meaningful content.
A Content Framework Strategy will help to define the content goal and its role to support the wider business and marketing objectives.
Cascading down from the content strategy are the Content Pillars. These act as topic headlines and help to group and organise all the strands of information into manageable chunks of information. It also allows you to ensure you have the right ratio of message types as follows
- Creating Awareness
- Introducing your business and creating interest
- Create Engagement
- Helping to inspire, drive advocacy and connec with your audience
- Create Leads
- Strong call to action, tactical content activity
Once you have created content assets an editorial calendar allows you to schedule your content across the relevant social channels
4) Tell the Story Consistently Across the Whole Customer Journey
Your brand story doesn’t start and stop at a blog you have written or a tweet you have posted. The brand story has to be told consistently across the whole customer journey. Consistency is a vital ingredient and the little details can make the biggest impact on your customer. If you produce content that says luxury and luxurious then the product, the packing, the retail environment, the after care and customer service should infer the same.
So take time to make sure that all the dots are joined up and tell the story consistently through words, imagery, interiors, customer experience and everything in-between.
Setting a business vision and translating this is to marketing and content activity will be different for each business so this is an area you may want to bring in the experts.