Since it is National Novel Writing Month, it’s a good time to look at how you’re doing your content marketing. Why? Because content is meant to be compelling, that’s why. Think of the phrase “media narrative,” and what makes it so successful.
People think in stories because stories engage. If you’re wondering why your content marketing campaign isn’t going where you want it to, ask yourself: are you telling the right story? Or is your marketing just words and occasional pictures? With “NaNoWriMo” well underway, maybe it’s time to take a new approach to your content marketing, and tell a story your reader will want to hear and tell others.
Having a Central Plot: Knowing Where You Want Your Campaign to Go
Good novel writing always starts with a single sentence that tells a story inviting the reader to learn more. That single-sentence summary of a story can apply to anything, not just novels—and the truth is it’s often underlying our favorite advertisements. What says more? “This is a popular beer in another country” or “The most interesting man in the world drinks this beer”? Which allows you to build a compelling background that drives clients?
It’s not just fun items. Think of the popular ad campaign for a certain English vacuum brand. They tell a story of an eccentric scientist who wants to create the most powerful vacuums on earth. You may be familiar with both campaigns. One is clearly more true than the other. But what makes them similar? Something “most interesting” or “most powerful” is involved. There is a superlative, and superlatives are the fastest way to force people to ask “why”?
And that’s how you get your audience to keep following your content. Using superlatives is not the only way to create a central plot, but’s it’s certainly powerful and most effective.
Unleashing the Power of Narrative
Once you’ve established your content baseline (i.e. why this is the most “____”) you now have a framework from which to keep moving. Here’s an example. Say you sell snow shovels in northern climates. Well, it’s November: once you’ve established, for example, that “the coldest winter ever” is coming, you can apply narrative accordingly: you can market throughout the season based on events, regions, climates and customer anecdotes. You have now placed your digital marketing campaign within an immediately accessible context to the reader.
Any given argument you have for what you are actually marketing is now within the overarching context you’ve established at the outset of your campaign. Each new blog post or targeted ad builds upon the initial context, making it a double whammy to your potential customers. You’ve already established need or a reason for engagement at the beginning. All you’re doing now is breaking down potential objections while building powerful reasons why your customers need your services. You’re creating reasons to keep talking.
Compelling, original content isn’t just good for your audience, it’s good for your website’s search engine performance. Google and other search engines are searching for original content before advertising, and the better built your brand is through quality narrative, the better search engines will rank you. Why? Because people look for stories and concepts before they look for companies. A good content marketing strategy gets people interested in your brand, driving them to your site and improving your brand’s authority on the web.
Creating Brand Engagement Through Characterization
Every good story has compelling characters. The two example advertisements have characters. But they also have a “hidden character” in the reader. They are not simply telling a story without you: you are the listener at the next barstool to the most interesting person in the world. You have walked into the design lab of the genius who wants vacuums with more suction. This is the way you have to see your audience. In our imaginary snow shovel campaign, you have the built-in characterization of your client base: they await being snowed in by the most powerful winter of all time. They have an active role, and your company plays the hero, rescuing them from having to be dug out by rescue crews and St. Bernards! It’s not just about telling a story in a marketing campaign, and this is where you find a slight difference from a typical novel – the reader is one of the characters, and choosing your brand is what alters their destiny.
In the end, all of the elements of the story make for what keeps your audience engaged. Having a consistent beginning, middle and end to your story make all the difference in what keeps your readers going through the campaign. Keep your story interesting, and you soon may find your brand on top of the best sellers list.
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