If I were to ask you to tell me the story of Little Red Riding Hood, I guarantee that those who had heard it could remember at least the basic plot of the fairytale.
In comparison, if I were to ask you to tell me what the Terms and Conditions of your phone contract were, I bet you’d struggle to recall them.
People remember stories, not stated information, and especially not pitches.
If you want to make a sale, you have to tell a tale.
Customers’ unlimited access to information on the internet means that businesses are no longer fighting for marketing space, rather they are fighting for attention. To give you an idea of the amount of information your content is competing with, in just one minute…
- 1,388 blog posts are published
- 5 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook
- 72 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube
- 300,000 tweets are tweeted
- 220,000 photos are posted on Instagram
This is why your content needs to be memorable. And to be memorable you don’t just want to fill up more space on the internet, you want to grab the attention of your prospective customers.
You do this by telling a story that your customers will remember – one that has emotional appeal, is consistent and authentic, and is clear and concise.
My English Literature degree has taught me that when writing your story, you should focus on three things: Character, Conflict, and Resolution.
For example, Little Red Riding Hood has a clearly defined character, as the title suggests; she is ‘little’ and she has a ‘red riding hood’. She appeals to children who are rebellious and stray from the path. She is relatable to the target audience of the tale (children).
In the same way, your blog should have a character based on the Buyer Persona that you are targeting and their place in the Buyer’s Journey. That character should be relatable to your intended audience, making the story memorable for its emotional appeal.
For example, let’s say that you are a company that sells cars and one of your buyer personas is ‘Safety Sue’. Now, Safety Sue is in the Awareness Stage of the Buyer’s Journey, so she isn’t necessarily looking for a new car yet, and she definitely isn’t looking for a car specifically from you. She’s a mother of three and drives a fairly old vehicle; her oldest son is learning to drive. You now have an understanding of her character – who you are writing the blog for.
Without a conflict, your story becomes a statement/pitch. There needs to be an example of your character transforming through challenge and overcoming their problems.
In Little Red Riding Hood, this is the moment when the wolf ‘gobbles up’ the little girl and her granny. Without this conflict, there would be nothing for the girl to overcome and nothing for the reader to learn from the story. Your blog story should educate as well as entertain.
To form a suitable conflict in your blog post, you will need to know the problems of your prospective customer, so that your blog can build trust, by recognising their needs.
For example, Safety Sue is aware that something is wrong with her current car. She is worried that it isn’t safe for her oldest son to drive, as she has had numerous breakdowns in the past year. This is the conflict – the problem that needs resolving.
The conflict must then be resolved, with the lesson learnt and the reader called to action by the author.
In Little Red Riding Hood, the girl and her granny are rescued from the wolf’s belly, and the girl states that she will never again stray from the path. The moral of the story (listening to parental guidance) is passed on to the reader during this resolution and the children are called to act accordingly in real life.
In the same way, the reader of your story (the prospective customer) should be called to action by the blog, and act accordingly to overcome their own challenges. Your content should effectively move them through the Buyer’s Journey until it is appropriate to introduce your product solution.
To provide this solution for Safety Sue, you could write a blog on the ‘Top 10 Cars for Learner Drivers’, an educational piece that will help Safety Sue to begin her research into a new vehicle. It isn’t a pitch, but a resolution that will guide her through her buyer’s journey, while also positioning you as a brand with knowledge about the industry that she can trust.
Stories Explain the ‘Why’
The massively successful thought leader Simon Sinek says that ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.’
This is why stories are more effective for marketing. A leaflet detailing your product or service focuses on what you do; stories explain why you do it. They explore the value of your product, rather than the characteristics. They make your content human, building trust in your brand that will encourage sales later on in the buying process.
So, next time you go to brainstorm blog ideas, try writing a business fairytale. Focus on appealing to the emotions of your customers. Make your story and your brand unforgettable.
Have you tried writing a blog story? How did it change your approach to content marketing? Let us know in the comments below.