While your business may not include magic carpets, iridescent dragons, or seven sprightly dwarves, the storytelling elements found in fictional tales are just as engaging and influential when incorporating storytelling in content marketing.
While it may seem like storytelling in content marketing is the furthest thing on the spectrum from childhood fairytales, when you boil everything down to the raw building blocks that make up a story, you’ll find that fairytales and business storytelling have much more in common than you’d think.
The elements of storytelling in content marketing
The foundations of storytelling are the same whether you’re writing fairytales or infusing storytelling in content marketing. Both narratives have characters, a problem, a plot, and a resolution.
The main characters
All great stories start with a set of main characters. Your basic story typically involves:
- Hero: The main character who has a problem and goes on a journey to solve this problem
- Support System: The confidant, hype person who is there to help the hero get back on their feet when times get tough
- Villain: The malevolent being who stands in the way of the hero’s happily ever after
In the world of content marketing, these same characters can be used in business storytelling:
- Hero: In content marketing, the hero is your ideal customer or persona. They have a problem they are trying to solve, but in order to get there, they need help.
- Support System: Is your business. Your company is the BFF/fairy godmother/support system on the sidelines that guides the hero/customer through their journey.
- Villain: In content marketing, the villain doesn’t necessarily have to be a malicious person. Sometimes in business storytelling, the villain is the hero’s current problem.
While we all wish we could have problem-free lives, the truth is that without problems, we wouldn’t be able to challenge ourselves and come out on the upside. The same goes for storytelling in content marketing. Every story needs a problem or conflict to move the plot along.
Whether your hero/customer is battling acne, trying to grow their business, or coaxing a six-pack to emerge before their vacation to Cancun, every customer has an obstacle they’re trying to surmount… and your company’s services or products are the golden ticket.
Nothing good comes easy. While developing washboard abs or a six-figure business overnight would be a dream, the goal doesn’t come without a strong foundational plot.
As your customer’s fairy godmother, your job is to guide them on their journey. Successful storytelling in content marketing explains the plot ahead and equips the hero with the proper tools (aka products or services) to help them fulfill their goals.
The final storytelling and content marketing element? The resolution. After enduring big bad wolves and poisoned apples, your hero finally makes it to the end and achieves their goal.
When it comes to content marketing, use the resolution element to paint a picture of how your customer’s life will positively change once they achieve their goal. Whatever the transformation is — a changed behavior, increased sales, glowing self-confidence — describe the positive outcome to ignite hope and motivation.
Why should you use storytelling in business?
The more we find out about consumer behavior, the more we find that consumers buy based on emotion and justify with logic. Storytelling in content marketing tells us the narrative of who the brand is and why we should care.
Gain your audience’s trust
Behind the glitz and glam of the logo and pretty social media graphics, consumers want to know there are real people like them that experience the same emotions, problems, and goals.
The audience wants a brand who understands the current challenges they’re up against and can show them how to get through the tough part and come out victorious. Purposeful storytelling in content marketing gains the consumer’s trust and nurtures that trust into brand loyalty.
How to use storytelling in content marketing
Storytelling in marketing is an art. When used correctly in content marketing, your business narratives will emerge more powerful and influential. To successfully create and communicate your brand story, incorporate these storytelling techniques.
Define storytelling elements
Although every story weaves together similar elements, the specific hero, problem, journey, and happily ever after is unique to each individual company.
Identifying these core storytelling elements and tailoring them to fit your brand story is precisely how to use the art of storytelling in content writing.
- Identify the Hero: Who is your ideal consumer? What do they like? What do they hate? What are their goals?
- Pinpoint the Problem: What problem is your consumer trying to fix? How is this problem affecting their current life? What emotional, mental, and physical side effects stem from this problem?
- Explain the Journey: What does the journey entail? How long with the journey take? What kind of obstacles do your consumers need to overcome? How will you guide them and prepare them for the road ahead?
- Inspire the Happily Ever After: What do your consumers have to look forward to? What change can they expect once they’ve gone through the journey? How will their life be better after they buy your products or utilize your service?
Create your brand story
Once you’ve defined your storytelling elements, tell your brand story. A popular brand story technique is to take your consumers through the founder story.
Most founder stories start with the founders experiencing a problem, going through a grueling journey of how to fix this problem, and now using their solution to help others in the same situation.
Harness customer stories
While brands should proudly explain why their products or services are the best, sometimes, it’s better to hear it from other consumers.
Harness the power of customer stories by digging into the positive outcomes your consumers have experienced. Customer stories are refreshing, honest, and can add credibility to your business and its reputation.
Tell your story
Interweaving storytelling in content marketing builds an emotional connection between your business and your audience. This connection can lead to more sales and more customer loyalty.
By identifying your hero, the problem, the journey, and the happy ending, you can use these key elements of storytelling to boost your brand narrative.