AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND: In our rush to drive traffic to our websites, promote our brands and build market awareness we often miss the most important fundamental of content marketing, which is ‘the story’…
The story, the news angle, the value a piece of content provides the audience, should take precedence over the commercial objectives of a piece of content because story drives engagement.
Without story, achieving engagement is extremely difficult and that lack of engagement is the death knell for any commercial objectives anyway. Good content marketing tells a story and is useful to the audience if it seeks to educate, entertain or inform.
A good story, or a good news angle, is a strong foundation that automatically promotes commercial objectives e.g.
• Providing objective information your audience can use is good customer service;
• When you inform and educate your audience, you automatically position yourself as an expert and that is good for your brand;
• A good story, or a good angle, demonstrates your unique point of view so that you stand out as a ‘thought leader’.
One simple way to tell a good story is to think of yourself as a brand journalist. To help you do this, try applying as many of these newsworthy values as possible to your content:
1. Is your content timely? Old news is just that, old.
2. How many people will your story impact? The wider the audience, the more newsworthy;
3. Prominence. Is your content based on information or comment from a prominent person or expert? Quote experts, even industry experts not associated with your company.
4. Proximity. How pertinent is your content to the audience? An event in Christchurch is unlikely to appeal to an Auckland audience.
5. Bizarre. Is your story different from the norm – ‘man bites dog’ is an old gem of an example, but it gives you the general idea.
6. Controversy and conflict. Fact is, people love conflict and controversy. When it comes to brand journalism however, it is advisable to look for the positive angle. Highlight a problem, but rather than whinge about it, show people how to solve the problem or interview people for advice.
7. Current and relevant. Does your content address the needs, questions or problems of your audience?
8. Human-interest stories have to be just that – about people in interesting situations. It is perhaps in this category that you can explore the true definition of a story. For example, if your selling hair care products, perhaps you could tell a story about somebody who had a disaster at the hairdresser – and the social problems and emotional angst this caused her – before you came to the rescue…
It’s the old storytellers adage to ‘show don’t tell’ applied in a marketing context.
Instead of telling people how good your service or product is, which is just boring, show them through compelling stories that feature the tried and true news values of journalism.