Content marketing is storytelling, so it’s not surprising that some of the core skills writers apply to crafting great books can be translated into effective marketing. These six skills comes straight from the art of writing, but they are also remarkable tools for every author looking to draw attention and build engagement for their book business.
1. The Art of Storytelling
Stories are captivating, they offer us lessons to be learned, exciting adventures to be shared, and opportunities to let our imaginations run free. In fact, storytelling is one of the oldest forms of passing knowledge and shapes much of how we see and experience the world. Good storytelling isn’t just about stringing together words into coherent sentences, it’s about emotions and experiences, needs and desire, the written and unwritten images that linger in our minds. Good storytelling in marketing is not only about you, your brand, your products or your message, it’s the image your message evokes and the impression it leaves with your readers.
Content marketing is primarily about telling a story, and stories are all about suspense and unresolved problems. Suspense is what keeps a reader engaged from the beginning all the way to “the end.” In the same way that books seek to keep a reader engaged through plot twists, character development and high-arousal emotional conflict, content marketing seeks to employ the same tactics to create interest around a message.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your message and it is often one of the main components to effective content marketing. By giving your products (your books) or your brand (you) an identity and sharing the stories that make your work great, you can take your audience on a journey they crave to experience.
The ultimate goal of all marketing is to inspire. Whether it motivates changes, solicits sales or grows awareness, the desired goal is what drives the direction of the story you tell.
2. Show, Don’t Tell
This classic writing rule has been drilled into every writer since the day she picked up her pen. And for good reason. Writing that lets the readers experience the story is so much more engaging than writing that tells what’s happening. Consumers don’t want to be told how amazing your product is, they want you to show them. They want to experience it. Write your marketing message as you would a novel, bring it to life through scenes and stories. Let characters take the stage, reveal emotion through dialogue, engage readers with sensory language, be descriptive and be specific.
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Show them how and why your books will matter to them and convey your brand through your unique voice.
3. Create Conflict
When you draw attention to conflict in your writing, it becomes more engaging. This is why nearly every romance novel includes a breakup and most how-to guides present all the obstacles before providing the solution.
In fiction writing, storytelling, and content marketing, conflict is the basis of plot. Something has to happen in order to move the story forward. Conflict in a marketing message can sometime be elusive, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where the tension lies. To uncover the conflict in your message, consider the conflicts of your reader. What challenges, trials or problems are they facing and how can you offer a solution? How can your book make their life better? This is a particularly powerful strategy for nonfiction writers, but can be just as effective for fiction authors as well.
You can also create conflict through controversial ideas, by taking a stand against something or presenting a contrarian opinion. Whether they agree or not, people tend to take an interest in controversial ideas because it tends to hit our emotional triggers.
Conflict can also be created when you pit two or more things against each other. A hero and villain pitted against each other in your story create natural conflict that can be translated into your marketing message. But conflict doesn’t have to be presented in the form of good vs. evil, hero vs. villain, it can also be cultivated by pitting two opposing ideas, strategies or solutions against each other.
To tell a riveting story, in writing and in marketing, you must include good conflict in order to achieve a resolution. In fiction the resolution is found in the happily-ever-after. In nonfiction, the resolution or solution can be found in practical advice and how-to tips. For marketing, the resolution or solution lies in the product you are selling, ei: your book.
4. Craft memorable characters
Characters are the people that “things” happen to in our stories. In content marketing, the “character” of your story is the person, place, or thing you are writing about. Your character may very well a living-breathing person who appears in your story, but it may also be the book you are promoting, the product you are selling, the brand you are growing, or even yourself as the master of written-worlds.
Characters have motivation, they have backstory, they have wants and needs and desires. They have obstacles to overcome, conflicts to resolve and experiences to be had. Without the person, place or thing the story is happening to, there would be no story. Give your marketing message someone or something to happen to.
5. Begin with a bang, end with the boom
Like a book, your marketing message should have a compelling hook, a perfectly paced middle and an unforgettable ending.
Nothing captures a reader’s attention more than a sizzling hook. Give as much consideration to the opening line of your marketing message as you do the first sentence in your book. Craft a compelling hook to grab your reader’s attention right out the gate.
In the darkest hour, when there is no hope of salvation, let your message serve as the inspiration for rising up against all odds and saving the day! Make your ending eventful, make it remarkable and, more importantly, make it something that readers will remember when it’s over. The key to creating engaging content that gets people reading, gets people talking and gets people buying is giving them something to remember you by. Boom!
However, it is important to remember that marketing is like a serial, not a stand-alone title. Your marketing should never reach “the end.” As soon as the reader thinks the conflict is over, they’ll stop reading, stop engaging. Always leave your marketing with a cliffhanger, something left unsettled, something left to be experienced or something more to be learned.
6. Write what you love
When you write what you love, your passion for the work shines through. Nothing will kill a marketing message more effectively than a lack of enthusiasm from the writer. If you dread every marketing word you’ve written, there is a good chance your audience will dread it too. Find the fun in marketing, write what you love, tell the story you were meant to tell and let your authentic self pour through.
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Most people don’t remember the name of the guy who started the Kickstarter campaign, but we remember the potato salad. That is the power of marketing through storytelling. Stories are what we remember, stories are what we share, stories are how we relate to the world. Stories are what connect your brand and your products to your audience.
Got a question or looking for some ways to make your content work for you? Send me a message and let’s chat about it!