Forbes claims that in 2017, ‘storytelling will become a key part of content marketing’.
And with ‘storytelling in marketing’ throwing up no fewer than 2 million Google results – this is clearly a trend that isn’t going away.
Here we look at what it is, and why it’s the key to your content strategy.
What is storytelling in marketing?
There are various – often conflicting – definitions.
For some, it’s about the narrative of – for example – the John Lewis advert or, for those old enough to remember them, the soap opera-style Gold Blend coffee commercials.
However, this blog from econsultancy believes that ‘Storytelling in marketing terms isn’t just about telling ‘a story’ (producing an advert where a narrative arc occurs); it’s about telling the story of the ‘brand’ across multiple channels and using various tools and methods.’
So it’s not only about working out the hot issues of the day, and sharing them in a compelling way. You also need to work out how these relate to – and tell – your own brand’s story.
Writing your brand story
When you start writing this story, bear in mind that it needs to be:
- Consistent – the same messages and tone across all the channels you use
- Relevant – think about why it matters to your audience. Why should they care who you are and what you stand for? Make it significant for them
- Compelling – you need powerful words; writing that grabs the reader and makes them want to see more. It’s not just about words though – see below for more on the importance of imagery and a visual content experience
- Compliant – particularly important for regulated industries like banking, where the Financial Conduct Authority or Prudential Regulation Authority govern what you can and can’t say.
Law firms and other regulated businesses need to comply with the requirements of their own regulators. And even non-regulated sectors need to meet obligations set by the Advertising Standards Authority and Committee of Advertising Practice. (Read more about compliance for non-regulated businesses here.)
So, what are the keys to success?
- It’s about engaging your audience with a captivating narrative
- But this narrative needs to involve your own brand – in a relevant way. Make your firm human – speak personally to readers with an authentic voice
- And it’s not just about words. According to this ‘Science of Storytelling’ infographic:
- The brain processes images 60x faster than words
- The average citizen consumes 100,500 digital words every day
Why is it so important?
Every piece of content you produce should aim to provoke a reaction in your readers:
- To read or seek out more of your content
- To share or endorse your messages
- To get in touch for more information
- Ultimately, to increase their natural loyalty to your brand and your business
The more powerful your words, the more powerful this reader reaction is.
Stories draw in the reader; make them ask ‘what’s next?’
This ‘what’s next’ may be the next step in your sales funnel – whether that’s to book a demo, sign up for a webinar or download an e-book.
How can you do it well?
Pique your audience’s interest.
Successful storytelling will make sure they come back to your website for a weekly blog update, or sign up to your social media to get more of your valuable insights.
It will create an association between your brand and the issues that matter to the reader.
It will instil a trust that you speak honestly and intelligently on these topics.
Make an emotional connection with your readers, with an authentic and consistent brand voice.
Shortcuts and hacks
Content marketing is a big commitment – anyone with a content strategy realises that. It’s not something you can dip into, or start and stop.
As a result, it’s time-consuming – it takes time and effort to come up with relevant content and then produce it in a high quality way. And you need to do this week after week, identifying areas of interest to your market and writing about them in a compelling way.
But there are some useful shortcuts we’ve identified to help you:
1. Don't reinvent the wheel
Content can be repurposed – a blog post expanded to become an e-book; an article rewritten to become a tip sheet. Look at the content you already have and how you can use it in new and relevant ways to amplify your brand story. Read our tips on how to produce quality content in less time.
2. Pre-approved content - words and visuals - save time
If you spend a lot of time searching for information – corporate stats like AUM or other company data – consider creating a library of pre-Compliance-approved data. You can do the same with visuals – imagery, infographics, charts – which can save you huge amounts of time in creating content and getting it approved for publication.
3. Make the sign-off process smoother
Getting approval is a vital part of the production cycle.
You can speed this by automating some of your sign off processes – something to consider if you spend a lot of time waiting for Compliance approvals. And our tips on writing content that Compliance can approve give advice on how to slash sign-off time.
Telling compelling stories is an increasingly vital part of your strategy. Hopefully this has given you some insight into what it means and how you can deliver content that engages your audience.
If you want to up your content game, but worry about the regulatory compliance aspects, download our Marketing Guide to Compliance for insights and tips. It looks at all the aspects of compliant financial promotions. The Guide is free to download here.