Storytelling has been around long before recorded history, but the way stories are told has changed dramatically throughout the course of time.
We’ve evolved from painting the walls of caves to the written word, to plays and movies, to the present ability to tell stories online in the form of videos, blog posts and on social media sites. However, despite the many changes in storytelling, some of the fundamentals have remained the same.
Extraordinary stories are relatable to people of all ages and walks of life and either call on our attention or respond to something in our lives. Memorable stories have characters people care about, along with a problem or issue that ebbs and flows. And of course, all stories must have a conclusion, or there was no point in even listening to the story in the first place.
As marketers, we are constantly telling stories to our audiences, particularly through content marketing. When employing content marketing as a tactic, it is imperative to connect with your audience through storytelling.
But what makes a story truly exceptional, even when the subject matter isn’t the most interesting? Here are eight compelling storytelling techniques you might consider to enhance content marketing:
1. Remember The Essentials
We discussed the fundamentals above, and, though it seems obvious, don’t skip out on these essential parts of storytelling. Think about it: without memorable characters, what good is a great plot line?
Similarly, if you have an interesting story full of peaks and valleys, but no conclusion, people will just be confused and unsatisfied with your story.
Make sure to include each basic element of storytelling in your storyboard, blog post or other content project.
2. Learn From The Masters
Study successful storytellers including fiction and non-fiction writers, playwrights, directors, actors and even storytellers in your industry.
Find out what inspired them to tell stories. Read their histories and explore their processes. Borrow what you can from their methodology, patterns and idiosyncrasies. These people were successful storytellers for a reason, so see what you can learn about their methods and apply them to your own content projects.
3. Discover Different Media
Storytelling comes in many forms – articles, novels, movies, blog posts, videos presentations and more.
Don’t be afraid to dabble in different media – maybe even go out of your comfort zone. Be sure to research what medium your target audience prefers and also consider which medium works best for the story you are trying to tell.
If your story has lots of dialogue, perhaps a video would be best. If the story is a narrative, the written word may be better. Check out tools like Prezi, Tiki-Toki and Visual.ly that are transforming the way we present information, data and stories.
4. Dissect Your Favorite Stories
Your favorite stories are your favorites for a reason. Pull apart your favorite stories and find out why you really like them.
Is it the plot line or the characters? Does the story teach a lesson that resonates with you? It may be easy to see why you love certain movies or novels, but applying it to business may be more difficult.
Think of your favorite YouTube videos or blog posts – why do you like them so much? Then apply your findings to your own story.
5. Fascinate Your Audience
Working to fascinate your audience may not be an easy feat, depending on what industry you’re in. But if you do fascinate them, they will surely remember your story and your brand.
To tap into your audience’s fascinations, consider working in one of our seven fascination triggers. These triggers, as described by branding expert Sally Hogshead, include: power, lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, vice and trust. She explains, “By mastering the triggers, your ideas become more memorable.”
6. Be Honest
Whether you are telling the story of your brand or telling a story about your industry, it is extremely important to tell the truth. If you aren’t truthful, people will know. And once one person knows, everyone will know. The last thing you want is to be known as dishonest.
While some degree of enthusiasm is permitted in marketing and in business, it’s not a good idea to embellish your stories just to earn the interest of your audience. That kind of attention is short-lived and it is not a sustainable approach to marketing.
7. Keep The Audience’s Interests In Mind
Think about what is interesting to your audience as consumers and work that storyline.
What interests you as an insider may not match up with what consumers are interested in, and that’s okay. But who is the story for? Tell the story for your audience, and always keep their interests in mind throughout the creative process.
8. Show Your Personality
Sometimes brands are afraid of letting their personality show for fear of being labeled a certain way. The fact is, people connect with other people, and even more so with other people who are similar to themselves in some way.
If your story doesn’t divulge something personal or unfamiliar about your brand or business, your story could end up being boring. People don’t spend time with boring stories – they move on to something that is compelling and engaging. Don’t let your story get skipped over. Share your personality and individuality with your audience.
Overall, there are many techniques to telling a memorable story. Most importantly, be true to your brand and tell a story that you are proud of, that can be repeated for many years to come.
Though the way we tell stories has changed a great deal from prehistoric times and storytelling is constantly progressing, one thing is for sure: everyone enjoys a great story, and that’s not going to change.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.