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. 

Let Us Help Tell Your Brand Story

Our team of health­care mar­ket­ing experts under­stands how to craft mes­sag­ing that con­nects with your community.

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