Content Marketing 101 — create and distribute consistent, relevant, and engaging content that attracts a defined audience and ultimately drives action. Regardless of the channel — website, newsletter, social media, video, sell sheets, or webinars — your content should tell a story. Why? Storytelling is one of the best tools for generating an emotional response. Content that generates an emotional response is more likely to have an impact and be remembered.
When I was a kid, instead of reading me books, my father would tell me stories. Sometimes the stories were about his life. Sometimes the stories were ones he heard from other people. And sometimes the stories were made up to simply entertain his young daughter. I know a good story, and have been privileged to have grown up around a talented storyteller. Yet, I don’t consider myself a good storyteller.
Since storytelling does not come naturally to me, I have had to dissect and closely observe storytelling. Storytelling is an art that starts with a great plot line. There is a structure to a great story. Here’s what I have learned about the architecture of a great story.
Every story can be broken down into three segments: the problem, the journey and the solution.
- The most powerful stories are human. A good story starts by introducing characters. Who are the characters, and what makes them relatable? Once you have begun to paint a picture of the characters, introduce the problem that they are facing. Remember: stories thrive on conflict and drama. You need to outline a problem or challenge facing the characters.
- How did the character(s) address the problem? What was the character’s journey to a solution? Here is where you can introduce or build upon themes, which are crucial to a story. Without a theme, you are basically listing events, not telling a story. Themes raise questions and suggest answers. Not to be confused with messages, which are specific examples, the theme is a general principle. Themes may include: ambition, discovery, freedom, power, security, etc.
- The story progresses to the grand finale — the solution. How will the characters resolve the problem? The resolution may be a mistake made and lesson learned with the problem still existing. However, the story still needs to aim towards a close. Where a product should never be a main character, a product can be part of the solution.
Storytelling is a skill, honed over time with practice. Use your story as practice. Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours?