Archive for storytelling – Page 2

What’s Missing in Content Marketing: Who and Why

Storytelling and personalization is the biggest missing piece in content marketing as I see it. People are good at writing about what they know. They aren’t as good about expressing who they are and why they do what they do.

If you’re not writing real stories, your content – on your blog, in your newsletter, on your web pages – runs the risk of being boring. You may be excited about what you do as a professional, but your clients will get bored or overwhelmed if you just throw information at them.

In the Content Marketing Webinar last week, I talked about communicating your back-story… the background about the why and who of your business. It’s especially important in service businesses where people hire you to help them solve a problem.

I once asked a guy who founded an online training service what his back-story was, and he didn’t know what I meant.

He thought I would see the obvious, that there was a gap in what was available online and an opportunity to make money. Okay, that’s exciting… to you and your spouse for sure.

But there’s always more to the story than that: Why did he personally spend considerable time, energy and money creating what he did?

There has to be drive, passion and love. He had to care. That’s the story people need to know. Read More→

Content Marketing Tips: Find Your Online Voice

How do you find your voice and create your brand story so that readers are inspired and emotionally triggered? How do you get content marketing results?

This and other key tips will be discussed Wednesday April 20, 2011 on an open webinar I’m giving:

Time-Saving Tips for Content Marketing Results

Register to get the recording if you can’t come at 5 pm ET, plus I’ll send you handouts, a list of outsourcing resources, a marketing road map and discount coupons for services.

“Before you can truly understand your customers, you have to understand yourself,” says author and content-marketing evangelist Joe Pulizzi.

If you are a coach, doctor, lawyer, any professional, you are trying to differentiate yourself in a crowded market. There are a gazillion websites in your field. To succeed, you need to forge a separate and unique identity and create an enduring and memorable brand.

You need a brand story. You need a brand personality. You need to stop sounding like everyone else.

I think this is one of the hardest things for busy professionals to communicate in writing content for the Web.

Why? Because it involves personal creativity. It’s one thing to write what you know. You can type 350 words of knowledge into your blog post in about 10 minutes or less. That’s the easy piece.

Don’t believe me? Come on, you explain stuff on the phone to clients all the time. Read More→

Business Blog Writing and Content Marketing:
Come on, light my fire!

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.

Blogging with Personality and Tim Ferriss

How much personality should you show on your blog without becoming an ego-blogger? Apparently you can share a lot of personal stories and anecdotes, even become a little outrageous and contrarian, according to Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek and now The 4-Hour Body.

I recommend listening to his short video about sharing your personality on your blog, an interview done by Rohit Bhargava, author of Personality Not Included. I was at this Blog World conference when Rohit interviewed Tim, in 2008. While it’s not a new interview, there are several nuggets that are timeless.

I don’t know if you’ve read Tim or not, but he’s a master at blogging and marketing his books.  While he could come across as Mr. Big Ego (his accomplishments are many), he does not.

Tim masters two things that make him credible and trustworthy: Read More→

Content Marketing from the Inside Out

In your opinion, what’s the single biggest factor that builds credibility and trust in content marketing? To me, it’s personality.

Readers and viewers want to feel a human connection. They need personal stories about people and about you. It doesn’t matter what form the stories come in.

We’ve come a long way from the days when ad men (and they were usually men) could represent products or services with snappy jingles and cute copy.  Online marketing today includes plenty of content in all forms, all of which communicate personality through stories:

  • Web pages
  • Blogs
  • E-newsletters
  • Social media profiles and updates
  • E-books, white papers and digital downloads
  • Video clips
  • Webinars

Some companies have personality through characters like the Aflac duck and the Geico gekko. Did you know they have their own Facebook pages?

Others use their company president like Razerguy for Razer and Ben & Jerry’s founders. Some use their customers:  Dove uses women and Old Spice uses men.

Obviously, if you’re an independent professional such as a doctor, psychologist, any kind of health professional seeking clients, you’ve got to have your own personality in your content marketing to stand out from all the others. Same for lawyers, authors, speakers. Yet how many professionals share their personal stories on the Web? Read More→

Content Marketing with Stories: Why We Tell Lies…

Telling stories is a fundamental part of good content marketing. Stories have so much marketing clout, they make it possible for little businesses to compete with the big guys.

Since stories are fundamental to the way our brains work, why don’t we tell more stories?

Why doesn’t every piece of online content we write use narrative to give a specific example of real people using our products and services or whatever it is we want to influence?

Here’s my guess: most people don’t think their stories are good enough. They don’t think they have a personal story to tell that’s worthy of people’s attention. Or, here’s a wild guess:

“Oh, I’m not sure my story is typical of the way other people think or act… I’m just different, maybe a little weird.”

Let me tell you a story about that. When I was first working online, all my web copy was as official and business-like as I could make it. I tried to hide the fact that I was not long out of graduate school and was sole-proprietor of a writing service with only 6-month’s Internet experience.

I was embarrassed. I thought the others online were computer wizards and knew secret coding language I didn’t. Never mind it was 1999 and many others had relatively little Internet experience as well.

So I didn’t tell much of a compelling story at all. I avoided getting personal. I believed that my writing products would sell themselves.

I struggled with my online marketing for years. It wasn’t until 2004 when I started blogging that I began to use story. I began telling it as it is, for me.

The difference was enormous. I suppose I had an “overnight success,” based on the number of people added to my marketing list (ten times as many), number of clients and amount of money coming in.

My story changed. I started speaking at conferences and I was able to tell people about the pivotal moments that made a big difference: blogging changed my life and exploded my business. As a small business, I was competing with much larger enterprises with staff and budgets. Read More→

Content Marketing Tips: Get Your Stories Straight

Good content marketing requires good storytelling. Fortunately, the human brain is a story-creating machine. In our lives, we take whatever happens and impose logic and chronology upon it. Consider these common phrases:

  • Everything happens for a reason
  • One door closes and another one opens
  • More will be revealed
  • Things happen in threes

People have a hard time accepting the randomness of life. We refuse chaos and can’t stand unanswered questions. So we make things up.

Stories impose meaning on chaos and organize and give context to our sensory experiences. In effect, we create our own reality. In fact, our stories matter more than what actually happens to us.

So if we’re making it up anyway, why not edit and rewrite your stories so that they inspire the actions you want? This was a theme in the wonderful book by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility.

I’m interested in the stories we tell ourselves, and how that affects the online content we write for our businesses. When you tell a story about your business, about your clients, and about yourself, you impose your version of the story upon your readers. You also reveal your values and purpose. Read More→

Content Marketing with Stories: Better than Facts

Good stories are what make a blog interesting and fun to read. More importantly, if you’re trying to influence people to buy into your ideas and ultimately your business, there is evidence that stories work better than facts.

A 2007 study by Jennifer Edson Escalas, a marketing researcher at Vanderbilt University, found that people had more positive reactions to advertisements that were presented in a story form than to ads that were factually straightforward about the products.

In another study, when information was labeled as fact, it was subjected to critical analysis. Apparently humans have a tendency to want to make factual information wrong, compared with information labeled as a story, which people accept more easily.

In his book Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin writes, “People just aren’t that good at remembering facts. When people do remember facts, it’s almost always in context.” The way to put facts into context is to transfer them through the use of story. A story is all about context.

So if you’re a professional with a blog, or writing content for your web pages or e-newsletter, what kinds of stories should you be writing? On a blog, it’s easier to do since it’s a personal communication tool. It’s easy to share client experiences and stories about the work you do.

I’ve written extensively about how to craft blog posts, and given you some outlines and templates for structuring blog posts. Most of them center on writing about how to solve a problem for your readers. The best way to gain attention and engage readers is through storytelling.

Here are some ideas for triggering stories: Read More→

Content Marketing Matters: What’s Your Brand Personality?

What are two key elements to creating content that get results? I stumbled across an interesting quote on a site that gets to the heart of content marketing matters:

“Evolution tends to favor action over thinking.  That hasn’t changed.  Emotion controls the mind as it did when humans first came on the scene.

“People react much more emotionally than companies dare to think.  Purchasing decisions are never driven by logic alone.  Emotion and narrative are key, they are the very structure of mind and of human nature.

“All successful marketing campaigns – whether using primeval or post-digital technologies — have responded to this phenomenon.” ~ Dr. Bob Deutsch, cognitive anthropologist,

Emotion and narrative… Remember these two crucial keys to content marketing.

I’m going to take a broader view and relate narrative to branding. Branding tells a story in the blink of an eye.

How can brands, which are designed to make an instant visual and emotional impact, take advantage of emotions and narrative to connect with consumers emotionally?

I am reading Dan Hill’s excellent book Emotionomics. He says this about branding and narrative:

“…brand equity accrues to the extent that a company’s brand story provides the two main components of a successful story. The first is an attractive personality. The second is positive signature associations by which the company becomes familiar and comfortable to members of its target market.”

In other words, a company’s brand works when: Read More→

Tell Your Story: Why Are You Here?

How do you connect deeply with blog readers and gain their trust? Through stories.

There are six types of stories you need to know about yourself, and two of them you need to be telling your blog readers, clients and prospects if you want to gain their trust.

I’m reviewing Annette Simmons book The Story Factor, Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling. These are the six types of stories that are really important for your to know about yourself, if you want to influence others:

  1. “Who am I” stories
  2. “Why am I here?” stories
  3. “The Vision” story
  4. “Teaching” stories
  5. “Values-in-action” stories
  6. “I know what you’re thinking” stories

The first two are essential to establishing your brand, your mission, and your core values. It should be obvious why this is so important, but let me spell it out.

What better way than to tell you a story about myself, right? Don’t worry, I’m far too old in years to tell you my complete story of “who” I am, and I’m not sure you’d be interested in the full story anyway.

In order for you to believe me, in order for me to build trust with you that I have credibility and expertise in Writing on the Web, here’s an abbreviated version of why I write this blog.

In  2004 I had been working online for 5 years, doing okay, but not really. I was completely baffled by html coding and working on the web was a lot more complicated than it is today. Read More→