For obvious reasons, high converting content is THE most important part of content marketing and it is all about mastering the art of storytelling.
Just creating any old content won’t cut it. To create high converting content you need to create interesting and valuable pieces that tell stories which are targeted to your buyers journey and that make a human connection with your audience.
When your content is targeted to the needs and problems of your ideal buyer you will be creating stories that resonate and therefore draw the reader in, creating trust to increase leads and ultimately sales. Use stories to evoke emotion and engage your audience.
As humans we like to feel that we are not alone, learning that someone else has experienced the same thing as us validates our experience. Learning how someone else over came the same problem and that it is possible to do, helps us feel empowered and move towards a resolution. That is what your content should do, to serve and engage your audience and move them along their buying journey.
Authenticity is Key
When you tell a story, you need to be authentic. The subject that you are writing about, doesn’t necessarily have to be something you have experienced, but it should be something real. Draw from the experiences of other people, news and books, even your current clients. Having a real life example in your mind, will create a realism that will ensure that you connect with the reader.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it
A story is not just about your business history or what you do well, lets face it, there are most likely many business that do what you do. The thing that will make you stand out is showing why and how you do it. A story should appeal to the readers emotions, it’s what will be remembered and what makes your content shareable. Think about the posts that get shared the most on Facebook, they are the stories where we see someones “why’ and a human connection as it evokes emotion and pulls us in.
Many companies start off with the WHAT focussing on the product first and moving on to how they do things, like their USPs, which comes across as salesy and won’t make you stand out, it just makes the buyer go “so what!”.
Instead flip it on it’s head, starting with the WHY, your motivations and then moving on to the HOW and the WHAT. Forward thinking innovative companies like Apple start with the why and then move on to the how and what. Simon Sinek noticed a pattern with all leaders and great brands - that they start with the why. He decoded it and named it The Golden Circle.
Simon Sinek says “The goal is not to do business with everybody that wants what you have, the goal is to do business with people that believe what you believe.”
So when creating your content ask yourself:
- Why - Why are you doing what you are doing
- How - How will it help your audience
- What - What are you offering
Essential elements of story telling
There are 3 essential elements to good storytelling:
Character is the connection between you and your audience. This is where your audience will be drawn in by the human element. If they can relate to the character and their situation resonates with them there will be a strong human connection.
Use your buyer personas to understand their needs, problems and motivations and use your characters to embody them. The character will also depend on the point of view that your piece is written from. In general you will only write from one point of view, however there may be times where there are multiple sections to your content piece, where they require different points of view, just make sure that you don’t mix them up.
- 1st person (I)- written from your perspective and is more confessional and helps to build trust and authority
- 2nd Person (You) - Your audience, you need to have a really good understanding of your buyer persona/s so that you embody their situation/problems/goals and make that connection.
- 3rd Person (He said, She said) - This could be case studies about your customers, or a story about someone you know. Stories can be fictional or non fictional to demonstrate the point.
In order for their to be an actual narrative, your story must have conflict. If your story lacks conflict, then you are probably not telling a story, it becomes a pitch or USP or a statement instead. Adding in conflict helps you demonstrate the transformation that the character goes through to get to the resolution of the story. The conflict should fit your prospects need or problem and the buyers journey stage.
In order to identify the conflicts to cover in your content you need to examine your buyers journey and outline:
- Products and services that will help solve it
At each stage of the buyers journey.
The resolution is obviously the ending, or at least the ending for now. You need to make sure that you wrap up the story with a conclusion for the character. Whether that is a definitive solution that you or the character took or at least some next steps that your audience can take to work towards the resolution.
An easy example to demonstrate the 3 stages of story telling is the I’m a little teapot nursery rhyme.
I'm a little teapot short and stout
Here's my handle here's my spout
When I get all steamed up hear me shout
Just tip me over and pour me out!
Character = Little Teapot
Conflict = When I get all steamed up hear me shout
Resolution = Just tip me over and pour me out
Story Telling Best Practices
In order to create a great story keep these 5 thing in mind when you start creating content:
- Give your story emotional resonance - fear, hope, happiness and sadness
- Be consistent and authentic - tell the truth but make it fascinating
- Keep the story clear and concise - be specific, you are not trying to speak to everyone, niche it down
- Before starting plan your: Character, Tone, Point of View, Conflict & Resolution
- Start with your WHY and continue from there