Stories bring a brand to life, providing insight into a world of brand offerings while enhancing a customer’s experience of this world. This is achieved by a structure with different components which contribute to developing the story-line. These components provide guideposts, around which the storyteller brings an artistry, uniquely crafting an enticing world which resonates with the reader. The essence of content marketing is no different. Here stories are created out of different building blocks as seen in the table below from Isla McKetta’s blog A content strategy template you can build on.
Getting started with storytelling
This analogy provides incredibly useful starting point when applying it to creating content for storytelling as follows:
The Heroes: Your brand/customers
The heroes or central protagonists are the characters which drive the story, helping to provide solutions to challenges. In terms of content marketing, brand content becomes a hero through a story which not only has empathy for the problems of the other main characters (or customers), but also goes a few steps further, providing insights, solutions and constructive answers to problems and challenges.
The brand can also provide information beyond customer pain points and challenges, opening up a world of experience facilitated by its brand offerings. So, for example, if you have a bathroom décor company, one story may focus on the challenges of a small bathroom. Yet another story can allow the customer to relate to the brand as an experience rather than just a product with content that looks at giving a bathroom a spa-like look, allowing the customer to enjoy a different lifestyle dimension of the brand.
The ground situation: Your current landscape
In order to achieve your business goals and KPIs, it is essential to establish the current starting point of your business. In this way, a realistic plan can be implemented, looking at a step-by-step plan in order to achieve the end goals.
This also entails taking your customer’s personas into account. Looking at their current needs and using this as a compass for setting out the most effective means and direction for implementing a plan that services both the brand objectives while satisfying customer needs.
The central desire: Your business goals
No matter how effective your GPS, without knowing your destination, you will never get to complete your journey (or your goals.). For this reason, it is necessary to establish what goals you intend to achieve with your storytelling and content marketing. This is the essence of any content marketing strategy, establishing the intent and motivation for the brand content.
2 questions from Joe Paluzzi refine these business objectives as follows:
- What’s the specific need to reach the objective? (e.g., create leads, have better customers, generate higher-quality leads, make direct sales)
- How will the initiative align to your business objectives? With your existing marketing?
These questions help to anchor content, giving it an overall objective in terms of the business goals, while sharing information which is relevant and meaningful to your customer.
Antagonists: Your Competitors
Competitors play an important role in developing a brand’s story. They help you position your brand – either in line with their current position in the market or perhaps at odds with this positioning, so that your brand is set apart and uniquely defined.
In addition to the focus on competitors, there is another aspect to consider and that is the risks and challenges in achieving the goals. Joe Paluzzi poses the question: What are the risks? What sources could prevent you from achieving the goals? Which of those things can you control and minimise the likelihood of their occurrence?
By trying to anticipate these issues, you can set up plans to mitigate their impact. Even if the issues do not occur as you anticipate, being prepared has its own advantages, so that you are on the alert, able to modify your content strategy accordingly.
The Plot (Your Strategy)
Plot and content strategy are very closely interlinked. These are the drivers of your story, directing the actions and setting the pace.
Here you decide on the channels and platforms which will be the vessel for your message, when the messages will be posted and how they will be executed to achieve compelling content which delivers your brand story and helps achieve your brand objectives.
While the underlying aim of storytelling is to provide compelling, sharable content, there are different ways of achieving just that. As stories as we know them already have a structure, this makes for a good foundation to grow the technique for your own brand storytelling. Once this is established, you will find yourself experimenting with new ways of bringing a story to life, crafting content that is meaningful and valuable for a customer and that can be used strategically in building a brand.