What would your reaction be if I told you that 46.9% of the world’s dog owners have either taken their dog to a training class or are enrolled in one right now?  How long would that statistic stay in your head?  And, more importantly, would me sharing that statistic convince you to check out my dog training website?

But what if I told you about my dog, Minnie, a 1 year-old Terrier mix who had a fondness for sandals?  What if I described the night where I went out to eat and came home to find my favorite pair of sandals chewed up and Minnie licking her chops?  Then, what if I told you I could go out to eat all the time without fearing for my sandals’ life after Minnie went to a few dog training classes?

You’d probably remember my story about Minnie long after you forgot about that 46.9% statistic, right?  That’s because truly successful web content involves storytelling!

Photo courtesy of Stevendepolo on flickr

Photo courtesy of Stevendepolo on flickr

The goal of any content marketing strategy is to build a relationship with your readers.  You’re not supposed to publish articles, blog posts, and videos so that you can clog up the web with more stuff.  Sure, you might get a few links along the way, but web content that doesn’t leave a lasting impression won’t give your business many benefits.

If you want your content marketing strategy to actually be worth the time you put into it, you’ve got to inject some personality into it.  You’ve got to get away from the nameless, faceless, corporate entity that individuals can’t relate to.  You’ve got to inject some of YOU into the mix.

Think about it — how many products have you bought simply because they were recommended by someone that you trust?  How many companies have you done business with simply because you liked the people behind them?  Well, your target audience acts the same way!

Why do you think so many marketers build an email list?  Because it gives them the chance to speak to potential customers on an ongoing basis!  If those marketers handle their newsletters correctly, over time, they’ll build a rapport with the people reading them.  They’ll build loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising, just from the right content!

OK, so building a relationship is important.  But how do you actually DO it?

The secret lies in the personality.  By offering your readers some personal details, they feel like they’re getting to know you.  And, the stories you tell can be about anything you want.  For example, some of my most popular content has been about an encounter I had with insanely-bad content marketing advice, a commercial I saw on TV, and even a story about horse poop!

Bottom line — you don’t have to be Hemingway to put together a great story.  Personally, I keep a notepad handy so that when random stuff pops into my head, I can jot it down and write about it later.  Some of the stuff you see every day — like a weird question that pops up in your inbox, an odd stranger in the grocery store, or even something hilarious that your cat did can all be the basis for a great story.

And, you don’t have to write your own content to be a storyteller.  I’ve had clients email me interesting personal tidbits so that I could work them into the content I was writing for them.  They’ve shared everything with me from the way they treat their kids’ colds, to weird stuff they discovered on business trips to Europe, to the excitement they felt when they fit into an old pair of shorts.

Content marketing is actually very simple.  All you have to do share important, relevant information and get people to like you.  Once your readers like you and think of you as an expert, your business will grow to heights you never imagined!