Content is becoming increasingly relevant and influential for modern businesses. Content marketing, as a central strategy relevant to marketing efforts like branding, SEO, PR, and social media marketing, is an inexpensive, long-term way to increase your brand’s visibility and reputation.
But not all forms of content are the same, and there’s one form that a rising number of brands and individuals are finding to be essential for content marketing success: storytelling.
The Power of Storytelling
“Those who tell the stories rule the world.” –Hopi American Indian proverb
Storytelling comes in an astounding number of different forms, but all forms of storytelling have the potential to be powerful mediums. Why?
- Creativity. Storytelling gives you a basic framework as a foundation that you can then use to exercise your creativity. There are no real limits to storytelling, so you can use it as a device to convey countless ideas.
- The relating power of characters. All stories must feature some kind of character, even if that character is a brand or an inanimate object. Characterization instantly makes a story emotionally and/or personally relatable to an audience, even if it’s only on a peripheral level.
- The comprehensibility of narrative. People have a fundamental understanding of the basic narrative structure: beginning, middle, and end. When events and ideas are presented in this seamless, time-based flow, they instantly become more familiar and comprehensible.
- Memory and transmission. Stories are also familiar devices that make ideas and concepts more memorable, and therefore, more contagious. This is inherent in most cultures, dating back to oral traditions.
Types of Stories You Can Tell
“Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” –Ira Glas
With these advantages in mind, let’s dig into a handful of story archetypes that you can use to support your brand and content marketing strategy:
- Corporate involvement in an event. First, you could create your own story by getting involved in a community event or sponsorship. For example, Park West Gallery is sponsoring a series of art education programs, cultivating a love and appreciation for art at an early age. This makes for a compelling narrative, where the gallery’s brand, the children, or the partnership brands could become a central focus. There’s a beginning, middle, and end, and the story is visibly relevant to the brand’s mission and vision for the development of art appreciation.
- Hypothetical models to illustrate concepts. You can also use stories in a more conceptual context. Here, you’ll create imaginary characters and scenarios to illustrate concepts that would be hard to articulate in a more straightforward way. For example, you could go into detail explaining how every public transportation route in your city operates and interacts with each other, but it’s far more effective if you simply illustrate a handful of hypothetical scenarios, with imaginary passengers who utilize these systems to get to their intended destinations. Examples are more powerful than raw data.
- Case studies of previous work. Of course, you could also go a more literal route. Here, you can leverage the power of storytelling to show off what your brand is capable of. The “beginning” is the story of your client or customer before you got involved, the “middle” is what you did to help them or change their life, and the “end” is the final result of your efforts. Case studies are particularly powerful because they’re “true stories” that explain how and why you’re qualified to do work—rather than simply boasting about your own abilities.
- Start-to-finish walkthroughs. This is also a literal route for storytelling. Here, your job is to present a series of instructions—like a tutorial—as a step-by-step walkthrough. In this case, the central character is often the reader, and you’ll need to frame the story accordingly. Again, you’ll need a beginning, middle, and end, and you’ll need to clearly describe the events of each step if you want your readers to relate and understand them clearly.
- Press releases, history, and internal stories. Finally, there are some basic forms of storytelling that you can use to showcase your company and brand. For example, you can use an about page or a form of advertising to tell a brief story about your company’s history, such as how you came to be, or how you rebranded. You can also submit regular press releases, or tell stories about the employees and partners within your organization.
There really aren’t any limits to what you can or can’t do through storytelling. It’s both a medium and a tool which, if used properly, can help you take a core concept or idea and transform it into something more powerful and transmissible. Incorporate more stories into your campaigns, and your audience will be able to connect with you even more intimately.