Content marketing is about telling a story. You can optimise and amplify all you want, but without a story at its heart, any content marketing effort will fail.
No matter the company or the communication goals, every brand has a story. And being able to share that story with an audience should form the crux of all the content you’re producing.
We have been telling stories since the beginning of time. Long before the written word was even invented, people shared stories with gestures and words and images. One of the oldest recorded stories in the world was discovered only last year in the Northern Territory – a piece of ancient Aboriginal rock art that’s a staggering 28,000 years old. And though the mediums may have changed, our desire to connect with others through sharing stories remains.
There’s no such thing as a brand that’s too boring for content marketing. In fact, it’s often a case of the more ‘boring’ or unusual, the better the opportunity to create a unique story through content. Any marketer or brand that claims not to have a story just doesn’t know how to find it or share it.
“A brand story is made up of all that you are and all that you do,” explains Debbie Williams of SPROUT Content. It’s not about creating something worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, but bringing together your history, values and people. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about pushing a corporate message, it’s about creating a connection with your audience.
So how can you utilise storytelling techniques to build your brand through content?
Create a persona
Every story needs a point of view. Creating a persona that is used across all your content marketing efforts gives your brand a clear and consistent voice and can help your customers develop an ongoing relationship with you.
Make your people your heroes
People no longer trust business. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, at least 50 per cent of the population will assume your company is lying. But they do trust people – so make your staff, customers and fans the main characters of your content marketing.
Highlight your history
Even if your company is a startup, the history of how it came to be is a ready-made story in itself and can often provide the inspiration for an ongoing brand narrative.
Transparency with audiences builds trust and engagement, and unless your customers and fans trust you to give them credible information, they’ll go elsewhere. Even if you’ve made mistakes, embracing ‘failures’ rather than trying to hide them gives a very human side to your business that customers respond to.
Effective content marketing is so much more than corporate messaging. The technologies and mediums we use to communicate will continue to evolve, but nothing yet has matched the popularity and longevity of the story.
By Edwina Lawry – Senior Content Strategist