Quality content—including marketing materials, blog posts, press releases, and presentations—should all have one common characteristic: character.
In other words, your content should tell a story. It is that character and story that draw a reader (or listener) in and keep them engaged. Storytelling comes more naturally to some types of content. That’s what a case study is, really. Or a press release highlighting your company’s latest successful project.
But how do you inject life into more mundane, technical content?
Here are three techniques for enticing your audience with storytelling.
1. Give the reader a character to root for.
This is where case studies shine. Someone—probably someone just like your reader or listener—has a problem that they need to solve. A case study should outline the problem or opportunity, discuss the options that were considered, and then explain what solution was incorporated and how it led to success.
It is the same kind of storytelling that has been a part of passing on knowledge for eons.
Blog posts can follow the same structure, as this one from Primaris does, outlining the challenges and solutions faced by two health care facilities, similar to those that make up Primaris’ list of customers and prospects.
Another great way to highlight success stories, from challenge to champion, is on testimonial pages. Here is a fantastic example from Codecademy. Their “Codecademy Stories” page is filled with tales of real people who overcame their challenges, and it just happened to be by using Codecademy.
2. Help the reader solve a problem.
In some content, you need to place yourself in the shoes of your reader and figure out what problem they are facing, then help them solve it. Give them the tools, instructions, information, and examples they need.
On your blog, this could take the form of step-by-step instructions to complete a specific task, such as how to choose the right name for your company or product.
Remember, also, that “content” is more than text and stories. It also includes tools. Helping your reader solve a problem could include an interactive calculator that compares options (which makes more sense for my new car purchase: lease or loan?).
Your problem-solving content can also be those downloadable offers that, while converting a visitor to a lead—one of your business goals—can also help your prospects achieve their business goals, whether that goal is to plan their blog editorial calendar or to impress their boss with the marketing metrics the C-suite really wants to know.
3. Humanize your products and services.
It doesn’t matter what you sell or what you do, the story isn’t in the product or service. The story is in the people.
The people who use the product.
The people who benefit from the service.
Or even the people who created the innovation that makes it possible.
Use your content to tell the stories of those people.
Question and answer blog posts tell your customers’ stories in their own words.
Humanize your company with staff biographies that go beyond stale academic degrees and business pedigrees. Show that your leaders are human, too.
TeleVox humanized the healthcare appointment reminder business with an entire campaign focused on the people who benefit most from their service: the patients whose health outcomes improve through enhanced communication from their healthcare providers.
Character and storytelling is one of four key qualities required when creating valuable content for your website and inbound marketing efforts. I’ve covered all four of the qualities in presentations for PR professionals or you can download our Content Quality Report Card and see for yourself if your website and blog content pass the test.