Did you know that storytelling is a great way to make a lasting impact with your audience?
If you were anything like me, then growing up you loved stories. Even though I wasn’t a huge reader, I loved to write stories and make them up in my head. I would even make up stories when I was out in public as I would see strangers walking by.
My love for storytelling has a lot to do with why I love marketing so much. Good marketing is just that… telling a story. That’s how you build a brand and get people to FEEL something. Those feelings are what drive people to take action and eventually buy from you.
Why tell you this?
The power of storytelling in content marketing is SO powerful and if you do it correctly, you will never feel like you are selling anything.
In this post, I will just be scratching the surface on storytelling in content marketing. Are you ready to learn how to be more effective, build trust and grow your brand? Let’s get into it!
If You Build It They MIGHT Come…
Often as business owners we think “if you build it, they will come” but there’s a good chance you know that is not true by now. You cannot just start something one day and post about it telling people to buy it and then wait around for the money to come flooding in. You have to create feelings, emotions, strike some kind of cord in your audience in order for them to take action.
The Golden Circle
A famous author and ex advertising executive by the name of Simon Sinek once said, “People do not buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it”. Simon is probably most famous for his concept, The Golden Circle.
Essentially, it’s a 3 tiered circle. Imagine a circle inside of a circle inside of a circle. In the very center, you have the “why” in the next layer out, you have the “how” and in the outermost shell of the circle you have the “what”.
Most people tend to communicate in their business starting with “What” they do. Eventually making their way back to the “why” and the “how”. But if you look at how major companies such as Google and Apple have branded themselves, you may notice they have more of an inside out approach. Starting with the “why” and working their way out to the “what”.
Why: Why are you doing what you are doing
How: How with this help your audience or potential customers
What: What are you offering
Why It Matters
Marketing is all about human behavior and psychology. The “why” and “how” communicate using feelings and emotions. And since storytelling is all about making connections, it makes sense why these two inner circles are the most impactful. The whole idea behind this Golden Circle concept is to help you navigate your mission statement, which in turn can navigate or set the tone for your entire brand and all your content.
Storytelling Essential Elements
Let’s take a minute and go back to grade school when you had to write papers. This is one of the few things I learned in school that I feel like I actually use in real life. Unlike Algebra.
Do you remember learning how to write a good essay?
Some essential elements of good storytelling include: Characters, Conflict, and Resolution. And to make this easier to understand how this all ties into marketing, we are going to break them down individually.
In content marketing, such as a blog post, podcast, youtube video, whatever… the characters are usually your audience. Which is why it is so critical to listen to them. Their wants, desires, goals, needs. They need to be able to see themselves as characters in your story and in your content for it to make a lasting impact on them.
I would recommend if you do not know who your audience is or target market to take some time to create a profile for the type of person you want to speak to and resonate with.
Be specific. Is this person a busy mom who never has time for herself? Or an entrepreneur who is struggling with managing their to do lists? Or Something completely different? There are no right or wrong answers, it’s just helpful to really have this information locked in.
Write it down if you need to!
First Person Point Of View
When speaking in the first person, the character you are referring to is yourself. This is a more confessional way of speaking and tends to build authority within your industry or niche. Use the first person point of view when there is a known author behind the content.
For example, my Instagram is done in the first person because it’s about me. It’s my profile, and I am going to speak as though it is me talking, not someone else.
Second Person Point Of View
The second person point of view refers to your audience as the character. Second person POV uses “you” type language and is directly speaking to someone specific. But in order to use this point of view well, you really need to understand your ideal client AKA your buyer persona.
The podcast, for example, uses the second person point of view a lot because I am speaking directly to you, the listener. This is an educational platform and the whole purpose of it is to serve Y-O-U!
A good goal to have when using second person point of view is to tell the story in a way that shows empathy, touches on pain points and your audience’s goals.
Third Person Point Of View
Third person point of view uses a lot of “he said” “she said” rhetoric. You likely won’t use this super often or in day-to-day content, but it is really powerful for things like social proof to support your business.
Client testimonials are great examples of the third person point of view. Especially when you refer to them like… “see what other people are saying…”
Moving onto the next storytelling essential: conflict. This is the lesson in how the character of the story transforms through some kind of challenge. If your story doesn’t have conflict in it, you probably are not telling a story, rather, it’s more of a pitch, or punchline of sorts.
In content marketing & storytelling, the power is in what you are teaching. The conflict drives the story and keeps things interesting. However, I will say, do not feel like you need to overdo this. Conflict doesn’t have to be anything wild. It just has to fit the audience’s problems, their needs, and the buyer journey stage. Like, where they are at in the process of choosing to buy from you or not.
Resolution is the final essential storytelling element. And probably the most simple one at that. Your resolution is just needed to wrap up the story and/or have some kind of call to action included. The thing you do not want to do is leave people hanging onto a cliff. Give them closure of some kind.
Other Storytelling Tips
Create Emotions: When telling stories in your content, create emotional appeal. Emotion gives your story power and legs to stand on and also lets the audience know why they should care.
Be Consistent & Authentic: You want to tell the truth in a way that makes it sound cooler than it actually is, but without lying of course. An advertiser named David Ogilvy says “tell the truth but make it fascinating” and I just love that.
Especially because I feel like for so many of us, we tend to think our reality is boring or we have no exciting stories to share. When in reality, you probably just haven’t figured out how to write it well enough to make it sound better than it really was.
When you master how to write this way, you can actually get away with charging more for your products or services.
You could say: “I charge $1000 for a fitness consultant fee”
You could say: “I charge $5000 for professional advice to help you avoid major health problems in the future”
Can you hear the difference?
One is showing information, creating a “blah” response and asking people to buy. Whereas the other one is making people understand the “why” triggering curiosity, and inspiring them to take action.
Keep Your Story Clear & Concise
The good news is, you do not need to have some drawn out story that goes on and on. In fact, shorter and more to the point is actually better. Keep in the important parts and get rid of the fluff. Also as a reminder, you do not need to be speaking to everyone when you tell a story. Focus on the person who you really want to resonate with the content and talk directly to them. Even if you serve multiple different audiences. Focus on one group at a time for the best results.
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I'm Sarah Elrod
I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.
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