A week or two ago, I discussed how measurable results can lessen the value of marketing content. Trendy content ploys may garner clicks and favorable rankings, but they seldom create long-lasting results (i.e., loyal customers).
Similarly, what content writers write about can often determine how much potential customers pay attention (to the content itself and to the business).
Consider your own reading habits. What kinds of industry-related blog posts and articles do you like to read? Which ones draw your attention more than others? What makes the difference…the source, the topic, the length? Or is it the story?
In a recent post, Ann Handley discusses the difference between “small stories” and “big stories.” She argues that the more we writers focus on big stories, the more our customers become “numb” to what we say: “Our products or services might solve very real problems, but still it’s hard to get anyone to listen to a story about, say, your B2B solution or your law firm or your pharmaceutical products.”
In essence, these “big stories” offer nothing more than the common, standard (boring) content. They discuss why customers should choose x company (or solution) over z company (or solution). They boast about sales and company successes. They use statistics and flashy graphics to shock and alarm.
And yet, they don’t leave an impression.
In content marketing, we writers are advised to write content that shares something of value to customers, whether that be a solution to a problem, a lesson about a topic, or an answer to a question. Certainly, this type of content has its purpose. I must admit, though, that such articles aren’t that engaging…unless their stories are “small.”
Handley notes, “Big and bold stories are often best told in small and specific ways.” Small stories tell about one particular situation, one particular person, one particular success. They demonstrate how a product or service works by making the situation or person or success relatable.
The content we write to promote our businesses undoubtedly should be specific to our particular brand. Even more, though, what we write should be tailored to our customers, not only in helping them professionally but also in connecting with them personally. When customers can “see” themselves in the stories we write, they will be more apt to take notice (and consider buying our services or products).
In the end, the success of content marketing comes down to size. Sell the big story (your product or service) by focusing on the small.