Content marketing is a hot field to be in right now. Millions of startups and businesses across the globe are hungry for content that will ultimately generate leads, increase sales and refer their target audience to a specific location.

Content marketing, however, is becoming more difficult as audiences are drowning in a “content overload.” Content marketers today are pushing out blog posts, articles, white papers and everything in between at a rate faster than what is humanly possible to digest. As a result, tons of content is being ignored, leading to lower ROI rates and wasted time for marketers.

It’s important to keep in mind that content marketing is not just about numbers. Rather than focusing on the amount of content that can be generated, smart marketers need to understand how to create quality content. After all, it’s been noted that there are 700,000 Google searches performed every 60 seconds and 5.3 trillion ads shown each year. The last thing we need is bad content to add to the sea of pointless messages we are confronted with daily.

A Solution Through Storytelling

Once upon a time there was a confused content marketer – we will call him Bob – working for a B2B startup. Bob was a good writer, yet he felt pressured to generate content all the time. He was told to create at least 2 blog posts per week, along with thought-leadership articles, user case studies and clever social media posts. In his free time, Bob could work on infographics and video scripts.

While Bob was able to meet all his weekly deadlines, he noticed that his writing wasn’t as exceptional as usual. He felt pressured to produce so much content in a short amount of time, most of which was being ignored according to the analytics. However, Bob’s CMO was insistent upon having loads of content to fill their sales pipeline in order to increase leads and generate sales…

Personally, I feel bad for Bob. As a writer, I know that engaging content takes time to produce. I also know that quality content has nothing to do with the amount of content in your sales pipeline.

Before I let you all in on a secret that could change your entire marketing strategy, notice that Bob’s story made me feel bad. As a content marketing consultant, I can relate to Bob. I find his story interesting because it appeals to my emotions.

So, what’s the key ingredient required for generating engaging content? Storytelling.

Think about it – rather than throwing dry, uninteresting content at your audience, marketers should make every effort possible to engage readers with a story that sparks their interest (as I happened to demonstrate above with Bob).

Applying Storytelling to Content

Now that you are all aware of the secret sauce behind creating quality content, it’s time to understand how marketers can apply storytelling to content. First, let’s consider the common types of marketing materials being produced:

  • Blog posts and thought-leadership articles
  • User case studies and company one-pagers
  • Infographics and video scripts
  • White papers and e-books

Many markets might be asking themselves, “Well, how can I turn a boring old white paper into a compelling story?” Good question. Getting started with telling a story is the hardest part.

First, it’s important that you understand your company’s voice. Before creating content, you must be aware of the message you want to convey and how that message will appeal to your target audience.

Second, it’s important to understand that the main benefit of storytelling is that it sparks emotion. If applied correctly, storytelling can increase the persuasive power of any marketing campaign because it demonstrates pathos, the emotional side of persuasion.

Third, you have to make sure your story always aligns to your business goals. In other words, you aren’t producing content simply to tell a story. Your main goals are to generate leads, increase sales and draw your audience to a specific location. Don’t forget this!

Finally, it’s time to put all the pieces of the content puzzle together. For example, let’s say you’ve been assigned to write a white paper on the value of DevOps. Rather than just listing the basic benefits of DevOps– teams moving faster, better culture, etc. – think about ways to appeal to your audiences’ emotions.

In this case, you want to show rather than tell. Apply these claims to the real world. Put yourself in your audiences’ shoes. Actually think about why an IT professional should care about adopting a DevOps culture.

For instance, maybe mention that a result of DevOps is detecting service failures earlier, allowing more time to focus on other pending issues or more time to spend being at home with the family. Tell a story by creating a real world scenario. This is sure to spark interest, appeal to emotions and capture your reader’s attention.

The More, The Better?

It’s best not to think in terms of numbers when it comes to creating quality content meant to educate a specific audience. Sure, your website might look great if it’s filled with blog posts, articles and downloadable resources. But is that content actually meeting your business goals? If not, it might be time to reconsider your content strategy by focusing more on storytelling and less on a “content overload.”