The Art of Storytelling Through Content Marketing

by | Jul 26, 2017 | Content Strategy

While it may not have chapters or contain hundreds of pages, the content you create should still incorporate storytelling if you want your content marketing strategy to stand out in a saturated market.

Meaningful, interesting storytelling is key to successful content marketing. It doesn’t have resemble Huckleberry Finn or The Great Gatsby, but a concise, purposeful narrative can grab a reader’s attention long enough for them to absorb your message.

A patient testimonial, for example, provides an excellent opportunity to tell the audience a story. Through content marketing, storytelling becomes a natural way to communicate with your target audience. The details are already there, they just need to be arranged in the most effective structure.

Weaving a Story with Storytelling

Using a patient testimonial as an example, here’s what a strong story would look like:

Get organized.

Before diving into any story, you need to have a decent road map of the main points to share. A writer for Pixar noted the following progression as an excellent option for most stories: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___. 

Keep it simple.

Don’t weigh readers down in minor details or irrelevant plot points. Doing this can take the reader down a rabbit hole, and far from the main purpose of the content. Heed the advice of famous author, Kurt Vonnegut: “Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.” In terms of a patient story, are we learning more about the hospital’s unique quality of care, the patient’s personality, or details that move us toward the resolution of the story?

Be relatable.

Now it’s time to choose your protagonist, or main character. When sorting through patients and customers, you’ll likely have many to choose from. Selecting Sarah, a 40-year-old working mother of two, will probably be more relatable than Chad, a jet-setting 22-year-old heir to a yogurt fortune. But then again, maybe not—it all depends on your target audience.

Introduce tension.

Present an obstacle or two, early on, to give your reader a reason to root for the protagonist. What happened to this patient or customer that brought them to your facility?

Raise the stakes.

Is life or death on the line? What about a major financial crisis? Make sure the severity of the issue is straightforward and clear for the reader. The high stakes should come directly after introducing the tension or struggle. Establish the problem and why the protagonist must overcome it—or else!

Tie loose ends together.

Is life or death on the line? What about a major financial crisis? For health systems, most stories will involve the patient's illness or injury, as well as their recovery. Make sure the severity of the issue is straightforward and clear for the reader. The high stakes should come directly after introducing the tension or struggle. Establish the problem and why the protagonist must overcome it—or else!

Your reader made it to the end of the story, don’t leave them hanging. Tie loose ends together. Was the obstacle overcome? Even more than concluding the story, it’s important for content writers to include a moral or take-away message. Your readers should learn something from your message. If there’s nothing to gain, look for a stronger topic.

Consider these tips when crafting copy for blog posts, video scripts and newsletters. You never know when the power of a good story will elevate your content marketing to the next level.

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