Here on Copyblogger, you’ve seen us talk many times about how to tell a terrific marketing story.
Because stories are fundamental to how we communicate as human beings, and mastering the art of storyselling is an essential part of learning how to become a freelance writer.
What’s a marketing story?
When you tell the right story, you can capture attention, entertain, enlighten, and persuade … all in the course of just a few minutes.
Marketing stories are memorable and shareable — and those are two of the most important aspects of the very best content that helps you make a living online.
With content marketing, your marketing stories become too valuable to skip.
A marketing story you’re proud to tell
So, we can all agree that stories matter … but how do you tell them?
What, specifically, makes for a good marketing story?
Here are five critical components of marketing stories, and how they fit into your business blogging.
We’ll start, as every good story does, with the hero …
1. You need a hero
All good stories are about someone (even if that someone is a professional monster or a talking toy).
The biggest mistake businesses make is thinking that their business is the hero of the story.
This is prevalent among a lot of insecurity-based advertising (“buy our toothpaste or you’ll die friendless and alone”), but it makes for a selfish, easily ignored marketing message.
To tell a compelling content marketing story, your customer must be the hero.
And what defines a hero? The hero of the story is the one who is transformed as the story progresses, from an ordinary person into someone extraordinary.
In other words …
2. Your marketing story needs a goal
Good businesses are about solving customer problems.
To put it another way, good online business ideas keep customer transformations in mind.
You need to understand where your customer-hero is today, and where she wants to go.
What transformation is she seeking? Does she want a health transformation, a relationship transformation, a wealth transformation, a career transformation?
- What will she physically look like when the transformation has taken place?
- What will she be able to do that she can’t do now?
- Will she acquire something she doesn’t currently have?
- How will her beliefs change?
- What new connections or relationships will she have?
- Who will she be?
Until you understand your customer-hero’s goal, you don’t have a marketing story, you just have a collection of anecdotes.
Looking for Content Marketing Services?
Digital Commerce Partners is the agency division of Copyblogger, and we specialize in delivering targeted organic traffic for growing digital businesses.
3. You need an obstacle
If transformation was easy, your customer wouldn’t need your business.
Obstacles are what make marketing stories interesting. The gap between where your hero is today and where he wants to go is the meat of your compelling story.
There are often external obstacles to your customer’s eventual victory, but the most interesting ones are nearly always internal, such as the impostor syndrome you might encounter while learning how to make money as a freelance writer.
What’s keeping your customer-hero from attaining his goal? What external elements are standing in his way?
More importantly, what emotional and psychological roadblocks has he created himself? What inner limitations must he overcome to achieve his prized goal?
4. Your marketing story needs a mentor
If your customer is the hero, where does that leave you and your business?
If your customer is Luke Skywalker, you’re Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re the wise mentor who can provide essential information and tools that allow the hero to attain his goal.
As Jonah Sachs points out in his interesting book Winning the Story Wars, one difference between an empowering marketing message and the old-fashioned, insecurity-based toothpaste ads, is that you emphasize that your hero’s journey results from her own effort and work.
Your business doesn’t exist to swoop down and solve all of her problems for her. That would infantilize your customer, which is ultimately unsatisfying all around. (Having a bunch of neurotic crybabies for customers just isn’t that fun.)
Your business exists to guide, coach, mentor, and help.