The hardest thing about writing good content for marketing is coming up with stories to tell. There's no lack of knowledge, or research, or interesting concepts to blog about, or to write white papers about.
I read one or two books a week, full of interesting information I can share with you here. But it's dry without my telling you a story of how that information comes to life in the real world.
What's needed is a story-teller's mindset. I'm working on that, but it's not something that comes naturally to me. I'm observing people who have that already.
Like Eric, Tall Eric, down at the tennis courts. If I mention coffee, he's got a story. Okay, so that can be a bit annoying if you're in a hurry, but he's usually got my attention for a couple of minutes. There may be a point to his story…or not.
My point is, no matter what your point, you need to deliver it inside a story. My previous post, Confirmation Biases: More Brain-Based Content Marketing, explains why. Since most of our "thinking" goes on via our emotional centers, you're not going to get any connection to your audience by delivering factual information.
Oh dear, that worn-out cliche comes to mind: "Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care…"
Nevertheless, it's true. The neuro-scientists are now proving how communication happens in our brains. We're hard wired to pay attention to stories. Our brains respond when we hear what happened to you or to somebody important to you.
So the trick is to see the "story" in even the seemingly mundane events in your life. Most of what we do in our daily lives isn't all that unusual or interesting, so how do you make it so?
Plus, it really needs to be relevant to your topic or product or services. The obvious stories are easy. Somebody asks you a question about how to do "xyz", and you explain how easy it is when they use your product.
My friend Jill, with whom I often play ladies doubles, has a photo tour business. She takes tourists for photo shoots around Lake Chapala, here in Mexico. When she asks me "What's Twitter, and should I be using it?" I've got a great story to blog about (tomorrow).
The challenge is in seeing the minute details of everyday life and turning them into a story for content marketing. Dog and cat lovers do this. Parents do this. You should be doing this, I should be doing this more.
I'm still working on this. But the more I think about it, the more I observe people like Tall Eric reminisce and tell stories, the more I'm convinced it's a mindset that can be acquired and practiced.
If you're interested in learning more about the importance of stories, I recommend reading "The Secret Language of Leadership" by Stephen Denning (Jossey-Bass, 2007). Not only does Denning eloquently explain why stories are so important for getting people to take action, it is well-illustrated with good stories that make his point.
He uses the example of Al Gore: how the Al Gore of the 2004 political campaign was so different from the Al Gore of the Global Warming film, An Inconvenient Truth, in 2006. It's a good read, an a great example of how to use stories to make your point.
What do you do to hone your story-teller's mind?