The day many digital marketers feared looks like it’s fast approaching: Peak Content. Yes, we may be staring down the day when there’s so much content out there that it’s impossible to get anyone’s attention, if it hasn't happened already.
Okay, cut that out. We’re not facing some kind of content apocalypse, regardless of what the naysayers would have you believe; some people are just professional grouches. Others are just terminally unwilling to look at new possibilities. Because Peak Content is only a thing if you think we’ve exhausted every possible kind of content out there, and there’s nowhere else to go.
At Hudson Fusion, we don’t think that’s true one bit.
So while it’s harder and harder to break out of the endless sea of blog posts, whitepapers, and webinars, it turns out there are actually lots of ways to make sure you aren’t getting lost in the crowd. We’ve already talked a little bit about the marketing potential of data journalism. But that’s not the only way forward.
In fact, there's one more we'd love to tell you about: storytelling.
The internet is a firehose of information and content being blasted in people's faces all the time, which means there are two ways to get through to people: get to the point, or tug on their heartstrings. Both have their place.
But when it comes to cutting through the clutter, especially when someone isn’t engaged in a highly focused search, you want to make yourself worth their time.
Ok. By “tugging on their heartstrings,” I don’t literally mean to get all weepy on them. Although that sometimes works, by the way. What I mean is to tell a story that they can connect with.
Because let’s be honest. Trillions – literally trillions – of ads are served up every year. People see thousands of marketing messages every single day. It’s not enough to just be there.
You have to get their attention, yeah, but then you have to make them want to read.
“Clickbait” sites get a lot of flack, but let’s not pretend that what they do doesn’t work. They present you with some kind of regular old situation, promise a twist, and then don’t deliver in the headline. You’re hooked. You absolutely want to know more: what this person did that was so unexpected, or why this common situation may mean something bigger than you ever anticipated. You made a connection with a person, an event, a theme. Something resonated with you and drew you in, and that’s why you clicked.
In other words, they hooked you with a promise of a story, and not just more important factoids.
Teaching a Man to Fish
Sometimes, how you get the answer is more important than the answer itself, at least from a content perspective. A three-minute video of Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star wouldn’t have the same impact without the preceding movie; it contextualizes the event, enriching it and providing it with more meaning and force.
As Pixar’s Andrew Stanton puts it, “Don’t give them 4; give them 2+2.” Not only does that take your isolated fact and give it more meaning by putting it in its proper context, but it changes it from a fact to an outcome, which is much more easily applicable to other situations. 2+2 contains multiple variable elements: two isolated quantities and an action. By working through it, you can see how, by changing the variables, you can reach any number.
A story is really a process. And a process is something infinitely more valuable than a bald fact.
After all, remember that old saw about teaching a man to fish? It's true! It turns out that giving someone a process gives them the ability to replicate results. And stories provide a fantastic vehicle for delivering process-based learning.
Why's that? Well, you don't just give instructions; you provide an example that demonstrates value and a context that people can relate to. A story gives someone an opportunity to imagine themselves putting it to work. And best of all? It's far more entertaining to read, which means you're delivering even more value than a simple step-by-step could ever do,
Now, it’s true. Stories take longer to read. But that means that the people reading them are more highly engaged and more likely to derive value from them. You should definitely maintain a healthy mix in your content library of quick-and-dirty, practical-and-tactical, and easy-to-digest.
But if you mix in some narrative, story-driven features that promise and deliver more value, you can give your best leads something to really sink their teeth into, and something you can continue to proudly promote for years.