Often businesses want to make themselves the heroes in their customer's journey; the risk is it comes across as inauthentic and alienates potential clients.

Content Marketing vs Storytelling

Content is king.  It can also be the Joker. Good content may generate likes, but unless the content we are using is building trust, credibility, and engagement, we are focusing on vanity statistics rather than content that will build, drive, and sustain our business into the future. It is easy to become side-tracked with looking at the statistics of engagement rather than looking deeper at how many likes translate into qualified enquiries, sales and brand advocacy. 

When we do not engage in an in-depth analysis of our data and how it translates into customer or client engagement, the content is the Joker because we spend valuable time creating information and content of no real, sustainable value to our business. In considering the data we collect, it is helpful to remind ourselves of the mental traps we can easily fall into when we look at the insights.

How do we create content that is king?

Content to be effective must create a human connection [1]. Content may be brilliant; it may be visually attractive. It may even be helpful, but to engage a person, there must be a human connection. The best way to connect is through storytelling [2].

Compelling storytelling is an art that makes a narrative compelling, believable, and human [3].  What is the difference between content marketing and persuasive storytelling? Content marketing is where we tell the story from our perspective as the business. We know our product or services and often tell our prospective customers what we want them to know about what we do. Effective storytelling is where we put ourselves in the shoes of our customers or clients, understand the problems and difficulties they face, and then target and write from that perspective.  

Clients and customers engage with us when they know us, like us and feel they can trust us [4].  Let us consider each step.

Potential customers or clients have to know about your business. At this stage, the purpose of your storytelling is twofold. It lets customers know of your existence and highlights the problems your business solves and the answers you provide. The aim is to create awareness and to arouse curiosity [5].  Stories at this stage aim to encourage clients and customers to take the next step in the journey with you.

The second step is liking us.  Here the clients know our existence; they know the services and products we provide to solve problems. The challenge is to convince the client why they should use our business rather than the business of our competition. It is this step that relies on the human engagement factor. The risk for companies here is that messaging becomes a comparison between our businesses and other businesses. How we provide more value for money, or we provide additional services. These may all be true; however, our clients want to engage where they feel there is a human connection. Here our storytelling must be authentic and vulnerable. We must present the human face of our business, with the difficulties we have experienced, the lessons we have learned and our flaws. It is this human factor that allows clients and customers to like us and to engage with us [6]. People need more than facts; they want to connect and relate to a company or a business; they want to engage in a way that elicits a response [7].

If our storytelling is successful and our clients know, and like us, we are still only two-thirds of the way through the journey of engagement because while our customers may like us, the ultimate question they will ask themselves is, can they trust us [8]?  Do we deliver on the promises we have provided in the stories we have told in the earlier two stages?  Here, storytelling about case studies and success stories from previous clients and customers is essential [9].  In this storytelling, the customer or the client is the "hero" rather than the business. Often businesses want to make themselves the heroes in their customer's journey; the risk is it comes across as inauthentic and alienates potential clients.

Compelling storytelling is more than good content management. Storytelling creates trust.  Trust creates connection and understanding, making a conversation with clients more than simply selling a product or service [10]. When clients feel that connection, they are more likely to take action, for engagement is rarely a rational decision-making process. It is more emotionally based on the relationships we build by effective storytelling in the customer journey.