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Marketers, what’s your story?

storytellerAs marketers, we often have an idea of who we believe our market to be, what they want, and what kind of messaging will work for them. But are we really just talking to ourselves?

We can be too close to the product and too specific about details our audience doesn’t understand. Maybe we know what product is coming out next, and we want to prepare our audience for that. The customer doesn’t care about your next product. They care about their problem. They are in the here and now and if you’re not sensitive to where their head is at you’re gonna lose them.

Often in the drive to get our messaging out, we forget to tell a story. Sure, if I’ve already decided I’m interested in your product a bullet list of benefits is going to help me, and I appreciate that. But if I don’t know I need it yet you’ve got to wrap it up with a story to gain my interest.

Taking the classic elements of storytelling to heart, here are some things to consider.

Conflict
A good story tells us there’s an issue, something for our hero to overcome. The customer is the hero, not you. Tell your story about the problem they need to overcome to succeed. Let them know you feel their pain. What change do they want to happen and what does that look like to them? How will it make them feel to finally overcome it?

Audience
Our writing does us no good at all if we are the only ones paying attention. Putting the audience first and speaking in their language, understanding what they need and how they want to hear about it is crucial for marketers today. When your audience is engaged with your story they will remember it, and they’ll share it with their friends. The holy grail of marketing is viral content, but you can’t make it viral. Only the audience can do that.

Authenticity
As Kevin Spacey said in the closing keynote of Content Marketing World, we need to be mindful of falling into the trap of chasing keywords to be heard. Believe me, a heartfelt story of how you are going to solve my problem is going to be much more effective than a keyword-stuffed, SEO crafted, emotionless appeal for my money. Use your own voice in your writing, as if you are talking to a friend or client who is sitting right in front of you. Look them in the eye and talk to them.

Do your own content audit
I recommend you go through all your social profiles right now. Take a look at your messaging with a fresh eye to see if it is telling the story you think it is. Better yet, ask someone who doesn’t work at the company to go over it and tell you want they think you’re trying to say. Are you telling a good story?

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