Why is content marketing and persuasion so difficult, and what can you do to set people on fire? When it comes to writing content for a business blog, most professionals start from their point of view. Of course, who wouldn’t?
“We’ve got a state-of-the-art 128-bit secure site, offering the best rates on the Web.”
While this business understands that its customers want security and low prices when ordering services online, they fail to ignite passion or spark action in readers.
Stories of real people connect with readers in a way that data and words on a screen can’t. In his best-selling book Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, published in 1997 by Harper-Collins, master screenwriter Robert McKee argues that stories “fulfill a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living—not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.”
There are two ways to persuade people.
The first is by using conventional marketing rhetoric, which is what most professionals use. It’s an intellectual process in which you write, “Here’s our company’s biggest advantage, and here is what you need to do.” You build your case by giving statistics and facts and quotes from authorities. But there are two problems with this rational approach.
First, the people you’re talking to have their own set of experiences. While you’re trying to persuade them, they are arguing with you in their heads. Second, if you do succeed in persuading them, you’ve done so only on an intellectual basis. That’s not good enough, because people are inspired to act by emotions.
The other way to persuade people—a more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story.
In a story, you not only weave in a lot of information, but you also arouse your reader’s emotions and energy.
Persuading with a story is hard. It demands vivid insight and storytelling skill to present an idea that packs enough emotional power to be memorable.
In the sample quote I used about a “128-bit secure site,” wouldn’t it be more interesting if the business blogged about a client who had a bad experience using an unsecured website? Or, better yet, what if they featured a video clip of a client who saved “X” amount of dollars by coming to them instead?
Stories connect us to what really matters most in ways that rhetoric and facts can’t.