How to Reach Your Inbound Marketing Goals via Storytelling
With inbound marketing, you may not have to reach out to your customers and catch their eye. The onus of researching the product they’re looking for is on the customer. They’re the ones who get personal referrals or referrals from social media. They’re the ones who follow up on recommendations from bloggers or articles they’ve read. They’re the ones who reach out to you because they’re interested in what you’re selling.
However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do anything whatsoever to grab their attention and make the sale. You also need to make sure that you suck the consumer in when they come to your website. Make it so appealing that the customer isn’t going to want to leave, at least not without making a purchase.
How do you do this? One of the best ways that content marketers and SEO gurus have come up with recently is storytelling. Storytelling might be a recent development in the business world but it’s really as old as the hills. Even the Ancient Greeks knew how to tell a story, as we can see from the example of Homer. Storytelling may have changed over the years but in many ways, the basics are still the same.
It’s All About the Character
You can’t have a story without having a protagonist. Sometimes, you might have more than one protagonist, as in the case of a romance. However, one of the two characters is always going to be more important than the other. They’re going to appeal more to the audience; the story will be written more from their point of view than the other’s. So you need to make sure that this protagonist is someone that the audience can identify with.
- The Circumstances Surrounding the Protagonist: It helps if the circumstances surrounding the protagonist are similar to the circumstances surrounding your audience. For example, if your customers are usually teenagers, then it helps if the protagonist of your story is also a teenager. If your customers are middle-aged professionals, then you could make the protagonist of your story a middle-aged professional too.
- The Devil Is in the Details: Stories of previous customers and how they solved their problems by using your product are great examples of storytelling that can contribute to inbound marketing. But often, these stories are told in a very bald way, without many details. If you want to make your character believable, you have to give your customers all the details.
- Questions to Ask About Your Character: How old is your character? Is your character male or female? What does s/he look like? How does s/he spend her day? Is s/he married? Does s/he have children? What are some striking/different things about this character? When you describe someone in great detail, your audience is more likely to get a full picture of them. Plus, the more details you give your audience, the more likely they are to find something that they identify with.
- Keeping Your Character Real: Don’t forget the human element in your description. You shouldn’t make your character perfect or flawless. You need to portray them as real people, which means that they should have their own share of problems.
Letting the Narrative Unfold
Once you know your character inside out, you need to describe what they’re going through. You can start with the problem that is (or was) facing the character. Maybe they were overweight and needed to come up with a simple, effective weight-loss solution. Or maybe they were so caught up in their careers and children that they didn’t have any time for themselves. Or maybe they wanted to live in a beautiful home but couldn’t afford a bigger place.
- How Did the Character Feel About the Problem? Don’t gloss over the problem or make it seem less than it really is. Get into your character’s head. Try to think from their point of view. Why were they so troubled by this problem? How did it make them feel? Tell your customers about these negative feelings that plagued your character; they’ll sympathize because everyone goes through similar things in their lives.
- How Did the Character Solve the Problem? Once you’ve explained the character’s problem, you can tell the story of how they solved it. Sometimes, the solution is really straightforward. Maybe a friend told them about your product and they decided to try it. Or maybe they tried out many different solutions before hitting upon the one that worked. Or maybe they watched someone else using your product and were impressed with their transformation.
- The Multiplicity of Storylines: Sometimes, the solution can come across as synchronicity: I just decided to try this and voila. At other times, the solution is achieved through hard work: I kept trying and trying until I found something that worked. At yet other times, the solution is achieved by working together: my friend and I worked towards the same goal and egged each other on. Each of these storytelling techniques has its own appeal, as long as you stay within the character’s head and describe exactly how they felt at each step of the journey.
In general, a story that’s told for inbound marketing purposes is going to need a happy ending. It should make your customers think that if they adopted a similar strategy, they would also reach a similar goal. It should make them realize that that problem, which has been bothering them at the back of their mind, is not insurmountable. After all, here’s an example of someone who solved it and moved on with their life. Overall, a story should give the customer the hope of making their life better in some way.