What is your story?
Do you want to adopt a content marketing campaign that will knock the socks off the competition? Then look to a communication strategy that has been paying dividends since you were born. Really, because what I suggest is that you turn back to your youth and tell a story, just like the ones your parents read whilst you sat eagerly on your bed, straining to hear every word. You loved these stories because they had a beginning, a middle and an end. There were heroes and villains. It had a narrative. It made sense. I know you think this is not a business strategy, but it’s exactly the best way to explain who you are, what you do, and what you can do for your clients.
We all love stories – we love a narrative. Why? It’s hard to believe, but we are pretty much the same people as our ancestors in the African Savannah 130,000 years ago gazing at the fire. Same brain size as we have now. And what were they doing as they stared at that fire? They were telling stories. The delight we have in stories, and the ability to explain otherwise complicated issues by using stories, is hardwired into our brains.
Stories connect with clients
Stories connect your clients with your topic on a personal level – the right story creates empathy. The right story can help prospective clients identify with your firm, not in the cynical manner of advertising, but because you have taken the trouble to reach out and explain yourself in a way your competitors cannot replicate. Either they don’t know how, or more likely they believe it’s not “professional”. While they are elucidating the minutiae of self managed superannuation funds, you have made the same point by telling the story about one of your clients who used a self managed superannuation fund to take their dream trip around Australia in a vintage American Airstream caravan. How did they achieve this? By taking your excellent advice, that’s how.
The heart of plain English content marketing is its authenticity. That’s why consumers have now become, and will become increasingly so, conditioned to reject the conventions of overt marketing. This is good news for professionals who can tell a story. When online, consumers adopt a different psyche than their passive radio or television counterparts, and instead identify with the “social” aspect of the media, which is unmistakably interactive compared to earlier technologies. For mature professionals, who well understand the value of effective communication, this is an opportunity to leverage already honed skills.
Stories help professionals
We love stories that have a message, and that message can certainly be commercial in nature. When she was little, my daughter used to write stories, wonderfully written, but they were just events followed by more events. One day I said to her, “in a story something has to happen and that’s why the word ‘suddenly’ is such a great word”. Off she went and returned a few hours later holding her newest creation. In this story she enjoyed a walk, bought an ice cream, went to the park, played sport, then headed home. On the way home there were people in the street and SUDDENLY they turned into aliens. She had accomplished the one thing we want to achieve with any story, even in a business website, because now I was hooked. I wanted to know what happened next.
We thrive on rich imagery – words are always better when they create an image. If you are a lawyer describing a will, don’t assume your readers have in mind the same document you do. Instead of describing a will as a “document that deals with your estate”, try to give it some colour. “Why do you need a will? Your family are grieving, they are confused and anxious about the future. The last thing they need is to have those anxieties exacerbated by your failure to take care of their needs. Yes, you may be dead, but one of your legacies can be to take care of their needs even when you are not there to make your presence felt in a physical sense.”
Remember, intellectual understanding is overrated. Believe me, you will explain most professional concepts a lot better with metaphors and analogies than any jargon that you believe, wrongly, demonstrates your professional expertise.
Where to start
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