Stories are the glue that makes ideas, memories, choices, motivations and decisions stick in our mind. Stories are the reason that instantaneous images pop into your head and direct your actions. Stories are timeless and reiterated from one generation to another.
But what makes a story so powerful?
Humans process information better when it is in the form of a story. We remember stories. We’re less likely to recall a dry recitation of facts. So, how do we tell a good story?
For starters, you need a main character or protagonist. This emotionally engages your reader. Secondly, you need an antagonist. This someone or something adds conflict. This is the enemy of your main character and the goals they set out to achieve.
Next is the struggle — preferably an active struggle in which protagonist and antagonist are determined to be the victor.
Okay. So what does this mean to your content marketing message? How can I use a great story to make my content marketing message motivating, even inspiring to my audience?
Here’s a story about Rupert, a fairly successful umbrella salesman.
Rain or shine, Rupert had been selling umbrellas on the corner of Main and Elm Street for 11 years. He had umbrellas in every color and for any occasion. Rupert’s customers came from all over town because they knew he had the best quality umbrellas money could buy.
One day in early October, the start of the rainy season, Rupert noticed another umbrella salesman named Sloane just one block away. His competitor had set up a booth with a red canvas awning, selling umbrellas at half the cost!
Three weeks later Rupert noticed his business was slow because many of his customers were buying from Sloane. The rainy season was fast approaching and this was usually Rupert’s most lucrative time of the year. Then as if things were not bad enough, he noticed that Sloane was printing “Sloane’s Umbrellas are #1” on his products.
Rupert became very depressed and decided to stay home one very rain day. Feeling blue as he sat in his overstuffed chair and petted his cat, Tilly, Rupert heard a knock at the door. To his surprise, it was one of his best customers, Mr. Biggs, who asked if he could buy 10 umbrellas.
It seemed as if Mr. Biggs had purchased several umbrellas from Sloane to give to family members as gifts. When the umbrellas started to fall apart during a heavy downpour, his family began to complain. All he wanted was to replace the poor quality umbrellas with Rupert’s fine quality umbrellas. That would surely make things right.
Inspired by this event, Rupert happily got his umbrella cart and headed down to Main and Elm – after selling Mr. Biggs 10 new umbrellas of course. That day and days following, Rupert enjoyed record sales and lots of smiling happy customers.
Left with little or no business, Sloane soon closed his booth and moved away.
The moral of this story is “Make sure you have a quality product to back up your pitch.” Successful content marketing pros know this. After all, your customers are really the ones who decide if you’re #1.
Now, get your content together and go tell your story.