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For content marketing to be effective, you need to master the art of storytelling. Its long been known that facts tell, but stories sell.

Great storytelling and content marketing planning requires a structure of a compelling story.

Powerful stories need an inciting incident that impels you into the narrative with strong characters including a hero ( the protagonist) and an enemy (antagonist), and a sense of conflict & resolution.

Storytelling is the world’s second oldest profession – Danny Harris via ‘Storytelling Quotes’

Your brand and the persona of customers should be the main characters. This allows you to play the role of your customers and display empathy as you engage in a dialogue with your brand in all content marketing efforts.

The conversations you are having with your content marketing an social media marketing should be focused on your customers.

Understanding personas, allows you to begin to discover why your customers respond the way they do

Questions that brands need to consider as they build personas:

  • What’s the unspoken question about the product or service?
  • What does the persona expect from this product?
  • What is their experience with the company? Does it fall short of their expectations? What is their experience with your competitors?
  • What information will this persona need to take action?
  • Do they prefer to collect information slowly and methodically? Do they take a personal approach? Or do they want a bottom-line summary?
  • Why are they motivated to take this action?
  • What actions do you want this persona to take, and how will you persuade them to take this step?

With this understanding, you can begin to plan compelling content marketing scenarios that will engage current and future customers to participate in the conversions that are critical to your business success.

Brands, be it B2C or B2B need to be planning and delivering compelling and engaging content. Are you the next marketing blockbuster or winging it hoping not to be the next flop?

Getting the attention of the consumer is harder today than ever before and getting harder by the day, we all suffer from information overload.

Storytelling is a way of engaging people that prove to be useful, as a result, brands are increasingly focusing on digital storytelling.

The Drivers of Digital Storytelling

The rise of digital marketing channels and tactics which lend themselves to it. The increasing attention for digital storytelling is driven by necessity but also goes hand in hand with digital marketing and social sharing.

Stop for a moment and think about the link between storytelling and social sharing.

Or about digital content marketing with its natural link with text and visual – digital, which is the basis of storytelling.

Storytelling has garnered more attention in marketing amid an ongoing media fragmentation and our shorter attention spans.

This is enhanced by the increasing distrust from brand monologues that consists of pure fact-based benefits messaging or “look at us” brand and product messages that we as the consumer has experienced for quite some time.

As a result, this has driven the ways consumers use digital media and technology to interact or avoid brands.

Stories are part science and art.

A fundamental aspect of our human, social and even psychological makeup consists of storytelling.

In a marketing and advertising context, storytelling is not about telling stories about your features or benefits, or having a more conversational and narrative approach in each piece of the marketing puzzle, with content playing a pivotal role.

Good stories are remembered and passed on. That requires creativity and data.

Storytelling is an art that requires the ability to connect with an audience on an emotional level.

The ability to use creativity to find the hook that captures the consumer by the throat and hooks them, so that they cannot let go for emotional reasons because the story is so compelling.

As a storyteller, you are talking to, with and through people who have their own stories to share. Where the magic happens is when there are a meeting and merging of the brand and consumer stories.

Science is when our understanding of what triggers an audience motivations and data meets the brand messages, values in the story we want to share and the ways to make them memorable.

Storytelling is the one area where art, creativity, psychology, target audience, data, and technique get joined together to create great marketing.

Stories are personal

There are times when consumers prefer stories, and there are times when customers just want plain facts and answers.

This is when addressing (customer) questions becomes a content marketing strategy.

Storytelling can be material when used to make a lasting impression or to inspire, engage or educate with a focus on the consumers’ story.

Personalization and the ability to show personality are one of the most significant aspects of digital storytelling.

The ability to tailor stories to customers and bring in personalization is dependent on the quality and quantity of consumer-related data and information.

Data enables us to personalize stories and to engage consumers in the stories.

Great marketing involves stories that appear just to happen. This requires the ability to combine personality, a focus on the consumer as a character in the story. The consumer involvement (not only the brand) leads to stories that are remembered and shared. Adding a twist of simplicity enhances the story.

The ability to relate to the story as part of the story makes the story stronger. This enables the consumer to become the storyteller as they share the story.

As a brand, you need to ask, what is the consumer story? Is this reflected in the data? Or user-generated content?

Incorporating this data into a story, the consumer owns the story and becomes the storyteller.

Everyone is storyteller and listener of stories

Content marketing has adopted the term “audiences” for consumers, which gets misused and abused.

As marketers, we should be asking what are the consumer stories; this puts us in the position to listen and watch our customers to discover their pain points and problems.

Then ask, do we know enough about our customers?

This forces you to take the position of the audience, observing the consumer and customers.

Today, with social media everyone is a storyteller and listens to stories. What is important is to understand is the journey and how emotions drive the consumer as they identify with the characters of the story.

Digital marketing has shortened our attention spans.

The rapid adoption of video, along with understanding why consumers are online, gives rise to differentiation.

The days of linear storytelling are over; you can bend the rules. Consumers expectations, mindset and time constraints coupled with short attention spans opens the door to personalization with engaging formats and approaches even more critical today.

Personalization demands that we listen to the consumer, brands need to act as the audience.

Companies are not becoming more customer-centric because they want to.

They have to. The customer demands it. The bottom-line requires it. And it’s long overdue.

Today, we live in a time where the connected workforce, the connected customer and the connected customer experience are blending into each other. Then add in the connected buyer’s journey, collaboration and social business and the connected society. This puts the consumer in the middle of an audience-centric content marketing approach.

Using data to tell the story

Today, data gives us the ability to measure the impact of our efforts. We can determine from data how well the story resonates with the consumer,

How personal was it?

Did the story meet their expectations?

Was the context right?

Was there value delivered?

Can we make it better or more engaging or educational?

Did the story get shared?

Why was it shared?

Good stories get shared, with social media it’s easier than ever for consumers to share stories.

By including customers and capturing their stories, it’s now possible to leverage their stories in ways not possible before.

Today, storytelling is a social event in every sense of the word. Great brands create stories that are passed on.

Social sharing, viral marketing is all about storytelling at scale.

Storytelling allows brands to connect with consumers in powerful ways that were nearly impossible in the past.

Using data and insights is how stories are born, told, shared and acted upon.

Today in a digital world with social media allows us to tell more stories which leads to more data and insights.

This enables brands to become more informed participants in the digital storytelling reality in which we live.

Read more: How To Tell A Good Story