What You Need to Know About Content Marketing That Sells a Story

author image Written by: Lia           Categories - Digital Marketing, SEO Tips>Content Marketing

How Brand Storytelling Captures Your Audience’s Attention and Demands Engagement

As author Philip Pullman once said, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” It’s a big statement, but one that rings true. Storytelling engages with people, and invites them to partake, identify, and enjoy. We see ourselves in the stories we engage with—quite literally, in fact. All well and good, but what’s that got to do with branding and content marketing? In short… everything.

Your Brain on Stories

The human brain displays intense activity when telling or listening to a story, and our minds seek out stories.
Brain activity lights up when telling or listening to a story.
Storytelling gets our brains working in a process called neural coupling, wherein our minds start to relate the story we’re hearing to information and experiences we already have. In fact, MRI scans of a storyteller and the person they were telling their story to showed brain activity that was startlingly similar. Our brains get fired up when we listen to a story. We crave them! A business or brand that’s telling a story as part of a broader marketing campaign can find massive success by integrating that story into their content strategy. But there’s a catch…

Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling in Marketing

Content marketing without storytelling is like having a sports car but no license or insurance. It looks great, sounds great, and generally is great, but you can’t do much with it, can you? Storytelling can provide cohesion and unity to branding. It’s the thing that can help tie your message together, and help you stand out from the crowd. It’s the license to thrill, if you’ll bear with us for a second! That said, compelling copy and content relies on a few key factors to really sell the message to your audience. You need to:

Storytelling in content marketing shouldn't be complicated, as you run the risk of losing your audience's interest.
Your audience, probably.

  • Catch their attention—be memorable, and not boring!
  • Keep it simple—your audience will likely only remember 3 to 5 things you tell them in one go.
  • Avoid technical stuff—it’s good to have now and then, but you’re not writing a textbook.
  • Be authentic—honesty goes a long way, so tell the truth and stick to what can be measured. Your audience will find out if you’re not.

Audience Engagement

This is the big one. Your content marketing strategy has take into account how audiences will engage with your brand, and adapt accordingly. Consider the following findings:

  • 700,000 Google searches are performed every minute;
  • Each year, over 5.3 trillion ads are shown to online users; and
  • The average consumer reads 100,500 digital words on a daily basis.

Considering the amount of stuff that an audience is bombarded with, it’s no wonder they’re going to scan things quickly. Thankfully, storytelling and compelling messages that encourage engagement can cut through the average person’s filter. Videos on social media are a great way to do this. Video is growing massively, and is an effortless way to tell a story. Ads, too, should provide a quick snapshot of what your brand is all about and what it has to offer. Consider microstories (pieces of content, advertising, or design work) that convey a message in a short amount of time. Which brings us to…

Why You Need Brand Storytelling

Even if your product is The Best There Ever Was®, you’ve still got to get people using it. Tell a story! It can be as simple as showing how consumers can make use of your product. Maybe it’s a new cleaning solution that can take the headache out of cleaning up after the kids, or maybe it’s a new food product that makes weeknight family dinners a breeze.

Brand storytelling and content marketing are a natural fit.
Why should your brand tell a story? See above.
You’ve probably seen ads and heard stories about these things. It sounds so incredibly simple, and yet it’s easily one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. There’s a reason car commercials focus on selling an experience alongside car features, after all. GoPro, for example, has a fantastic approach to selling an experience. Their videos are almost entirely user-created, showing the inventive ways people make use of the cameras. These videos are short stories that sell an experience and a lifestyle that GoPro associates with. Content marketing and storytelling go hand-in-hand. Stories are powerful tools that help us connect and engage, after all. We identify with the story, even if it’s simple and to the point—our brains love these stories! We see how these things could benefit us, and it drives our decisions. And then we tell our friends and family about it.


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