Are you struggling to decide what content to include on your website? You can take a few lessons from fiction writing. Every article or blog post you write, even case studies and short e-books, should have all of the elements of a good story.
A good plot has a crisis, a conflict, characters, and some kind of resolution.
In fiction, the crisis is the problem the protagonist faces: what is the goal they are trying to achieve? Katniss Everdeen must survive the Hunger Games. Mark Watney must find a way to grow food and survive on the harsh climate of Mars.
Your customer also is trying to solve a problem. Whether they are trying to rank higher in Google for their niche, find a way to keep their floors cleaner, or file their taxes online there is a reason they are in need of your product or service. That reason is the problem they are trying to solve, and while finding toilet paper that is affordable, yet satisfies the needs of all members of the household is not as glamorous as growing food on Mars, it is still a necessity.
Katniss faces many opponents in the Hunger Games, but her primary enemy overall is President Snow and the games themselves. Mars itself is the enemy of Mark Watney, and the planet throws many things at him, including sand storms, the atmosphere itself, and the challenge of making water.
Your customer too has a conflict. What are their pain points? What will it take to solve their problem, and why is your product or service the best choice for them to accomplish this? It is how you address these pain points that will set your brand apart.
This is where your content marketing comes in. You must address your customers at all levels of the marketing funnel, and share with them how exactly to solve their problems. At the top of the funnel, you are giving away this information for free, regardless of whether or not the customer chooses your product or service.
Further along in the sale journey, you are letting them know why your product or service is the best solution available to their issues. The story you tell must inform potential customers about the conflict and the possible obstacles they may face in solving it. The knowledge you have of their journey, the more they can relate to your solution, the more likely they will head toward the resolution the way you recommend.
While there are many characters in every story, in the business world there are three primary ones. The first is the person in need of help. This is the customer in this case. You want the customer to be the hero of their own journey.
The problem is theirs to solve. Katniss had to determine how to beat President Snow at his own game, and Mark Watney had to survive on his own. Both had help along the way.
Your role is to be the help along the way, not the hero. You are coming to your customer’s rescue. You are there to support them and help them along the way to achieving their goals. In part, you must acknowledge that you are a part of a team.
A business needs a number of things and an overall strategy to improve SEO and rank well on Google. While they do need content marketers and writers, they also need search software like MOZ, social media management like Hootsuite or Tweepsmap, even online grammar checkers like Grammarly.
No matter what part you play on the team, you are there to help in your area of expertise. Think of cleaning products. You probably have several in your home, each for a different task.
The antagonist in the story is the problem your customer is trying to solve. This can be a number of things, or the problem you will help them solve can be only a part of a larger goal. Either way, this character is what you battle against with your content.
The resolution of your story is when your customer solves the problem they have faced. You have done your job well if they resolve their issues with your product or service, but even if not, if you have helped them along the way, the customer will remember and may use your services in the future when they run across a similar problem they cannot solve the same way.
The goal of any content marketing strategy is to take the customer on a journey, from having a problem to solving it. The same is true of any story. The hero must face a problem and solve it despite conflict.
By following a model of storytelling, you can lead potential customers through the conflict toward a resolution that results in conversions and sales. You’re not the hero of the story, but you do play a key role.
Also published on Medium.