Every piece of content you create tells a story: blogs, ebooks, social media posts, emails, etc.
Stories can heavily influence your target audience in making decisions about engaging with your organization. So what can you do to make sure your content stands out against the competition? You have to ensure that your stories are compelling and make a connection with your audience. We’ll cover all of the necessary parts of compelling storytelling and go over some best practices.
Make a Connection with Your Audience
During an average website visit, users read at most 28% of your content. To encourage your website visitors to read more of your content, it is crucial to immediately form a connection with them. According to Simon Sinek, a former advertising executive and author, and his well-known Golden Circle Theory, you must begin with your ‘why’ before moving on to your ‘how’ and ‘what’ to truly connect with your audience.
Telling your audience why you’re doing what you’re doing will appeal to their emotions and allow them to relate to your story. Once you’ve tapped into the emotional side, then you can begin using your story to educate your audience on how your organization will help them and build awareness on what you are offering.
Golden Circle Example
Organization: Local animal rescue
Target Audience: Females between 22 and 28 searching to adopt pets in the Greater Huntsville Area
Their ‘Why’: They want to find forever homes for abandoned animals to prevent them from being euthanized.
Their ‘How’: They rescue animals and provide them with a shelter.
Their ‘What’: They offer rescued animals up for adoption to the community.
In this example, the animal rescue might choose to create a blog series promoting their adoptable pets that appeals to their audience’s emotions by describing why their pets should be adopted, then they explain how they accomplish it, and finish with what they offer to their target audience.
3 Essential Elements Every Story Needs
To stand out from your competitors and to persuade your audience to read your content, you have to grab their attention. Here are the 3 main parts that every story should have to captivate readers.
Your story should contain at least one character. When explaining why your organization does what it does, the character will be you or your team. When telling a success story, the character will be about that specific person. Whoever your character is, it is important that the character is relatable to your audience. If your target persona can see themselves in your character’s shoes, then they will be more likely to engage with your organization.
Need to narrow down your audience? Look into creating your organization’s buyer persona or donor persona, so you know who you are targeting when writing your story.
Point of View
Be sure to use the appropriate point of view for your story. Here’s a quick guide to determine when it’s the right time to use each one:
First-person point of view
Using ‘I’ can help establish a personal connection with your audience. It’s best to use this point of view when there is a known author behind the content. First-person stories can be used to establish credibility, such as telling your ‘why’.
Second-person point of view
Your reader will be able to make a connection with your story if you speak to them by using “you” or “your” throughout your writing. Use this point of view when creating educational content, such as a how-to blog post, so that the reader can relate.
Third-person point of view
You use this point of view when telling a story on someone else’s behalf or a story that includes characters other than yourself. Case studies are a great example of when you would use “he”, “she”, or “they”. Make sure that the character is relatable to your target audience.
Before writing any type of content for your organization, you need to determine the conflict of your story that will captivate your readers. It is possible to have different conflicts depending on what type of content you are writing.
For example, on a donation landing page, a nonprofit organization would present the conflict of needing community support. However the conflict for each of their blog posts would vary because each topic may touch on different pain points of their target audience’s problems that they can solve with their services. By focusing your content on solving a specific issue, you are creating engaging content that is useful for your audience.
A conflict will grab your reader’s attention because it causes tension, but there is no need to embellish the conflict of your story to keep your reader interested. As long as you create content that is relevant to your target persona’s interests or problems, they will be able to form a connection with it.
Once you introduce your conflict, you can’t just leave your readers hanging. You have to provide them with closure. Remember that your resolution is the whole reason you told the story in the first place. For example, if your story is on a landing page, then the resolution should be the next steps your reader can take to help resolve the conflict. In a case study or success story, your readers will relate to the resolution and picture the same result for themselves.
Best Practices for Compelling Storytelling
So now that we discussed components that every story has, here are some tips on how to make your story stand out.
Use emotional appeal
Emotions heavily play into the decisions we make. Therefore, you should make it a priority to include them in your story. There are various emotions you can appeal to: fear, amusement, empowerment, guilt, etc. Decide which one would be most effective for your target audience and use it to bring your content to life.
Don’t think it’s that big of a deal? In the nonprofit realm, studies show that appealing to positive emotions provides more long-term success than using a sad, guilt-driven appeal. So choosing the right one is important!
Keep the content consistent and authentic
Your tone, style, and format for your content should be consistent and accurately represent your organization to avoid confusion. You can determine the right pick for these things by choosing what your buyer persona would be interested in. For example, if your target audience is a group of professionals, then you may need to create formal content, like an eBook or whitepaper. Whichever direction you go in, it’s important to keep a consistent voice so that your brand is recognizable.
As far as authenticity goes, don’t exaggerate what your organization does or your successes. Your audience will feel cheated if they discover that you embellished details in your stories, and it could ruin your reputation. To be genuine and interesting, share what makes your organization unique.
Create a clear and concise story
It’s good to have a lot to share about your organization, but you don’t want your readers' eyes to glaze over. Find a way to break it up into sections, or even into separate posts (more content!). Your priorities should be to clearly communicate the three main parts of a story: character, conflict, and resolution. Don’t get too caught up in the details that don’t pertain to those three things because you can lose the effectiveness of the story.
Compelling stories make all the difference in your marketing strategy. They are essential in order to create connections, establish your brand, and promote your services. By having content that your audience can relate to, you will entice your readers to engage with your organization.
Want to get started on making your content more engaging?
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