No one can resist a great story. When you create content for your audience, it should be engaging and relevant, not a commercial for your brand. As content marketing has evolved, one thing remains the same—business storytelling. You may not have thought of your content marketing efforts in this way, but to develop genuine connections with your audience, harnessing the power of storytelling is a must.
What is Business Storytelling?
Stories are a central part of the history of humankind. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors passed along traditions and memories through storytelling. They also used it to explain the world around them. Those stories still exist all this time later, and that’s exactly the approach to take in business storytelling.
Simply put, business storytelling is a content marketing strategy in which you develop narratives that are compelling and relatable. Your reader doesn’t feel like they are being sold anything; they are merely on a journey to find answers.
Heart vs. Mind
When you think about your content strategy, are you appealing to a customer’s heart or mind? Facts and figures are logical and speak to your mind. When you see this type of information, your brain begins processing. That’s important when trying to attract your customers, but it’s not a true connection.
Stories, on the other hand, speak to your heart. When you read or hear a story, your brain has a different reaction with many more activations, including all your senses. Stories begin to imprint in your brain, leaving a stronger recall.
You may be thinking that your buyers want facts and analytical content because they are logical people. That may be so, but it’s hard to compete with emotion. According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95 percent of purchase decisions are made in the subconscious.
Business storytelling taps into this. The big challenge is how to take topics that may be boring and infuse them with personality. Great stories that engage readers will possess great character and offer you real differentiation from your competitors.
How to Integrate Business Storytelling into Your Content Marketing
The process of content planning can be cumbersome—choosing topics and angles, working out the value it brings to your audience, and considering tactical things like SEO. The one element you may be overlooking is the story.
Let’s face it, very few people are going to get excited about content that isn’t fun to consume. While they may appreciate the points made and the statistics, it won’t inspire them like a good story does. The right story at the right time sparks interest and begins to connect you with your buyer.
The beautiful words of poet Maya Angelou summed it up best, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
Stories are memorable, and they have a strong place in your content marketing.
Types of Storytelling in Business: Leveraging Narrative for Connections
There are several different types of storytelling you can use to boost your content marketing efforts. Here’s a quick look at three different ways to leverage narratives for connections.
Your Topic Is the Story
In this approach, the topic you are covering is the story. It will have a beginning, middle, and end, just as any narrative. With topic storytelling, you are presenting the reader with a voyage or an adventure, where they likely play the hero. When your customer sees this story as their story, it creates a strong bond.
For example, say the topic you are writing about is employee engagement, and your company offers a software platform that helps improve this. You can deliver a narrative that tells the story of a boss that had unengaged employees and how that impacted the business. Talk about her challenges and interactions, which then led her to use different tools to boost employee satisfaction, ending with the team being stronger.
You aren’t trying to sell to the reader in this situation, just painting a picture of what your target audience may be experiencing.
Stories to Illustrate Your Points
Another way to weave storytelling into your content is to use anecdotes to support points made. These stories could relate to case studies from customers, or they could be more personal. If a subject matter expert (SME) is developing the story, then he or she probably has a personal experience to share that can boost the credibility of the point.
Content that Sounds Like a Story
A piece of content doesn’t have to be a story to sound like one. Instead, you can manipulate context so that it mimics the qualities of a narrative. This requires two ingredients:
- Make your audience use their senses: use words and phrases that include elements of a story that trigger your audience to want to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.
- Make your audience feel: leverage the senses to help your audience paint a picture in their brain, which is the same type of reaction it has when reading or hearing stories.
By letting the structure of story influence how you create content, you have a greater opportunity to develop connections. Readers appreciate the information and wisdom you’ve provided, and it’s probably going to stick with them longer than if you regurgitated some facts.
How Will Storytelling Improve Your Content Marketing?
Whether you’ve engaged in storytelling before or are trying it out, you have a unique opportunity to capture the hearts of your customers. Content marketing isn’t successful unless you consider everything you do from your audience’s perspective. Brands often get tripped up by their own bias in content marketing and not shifting the vantage point to their audience.
Storytelling enables you to make deeper connections and deliver compelling content that solves needs and provides insight. Make it a priority for your brand to boost the performance of your content.
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