Common perception among small business marketers is that delivering the message is all important and that the goal is to reach as many people as possible with prose designed to spur action, change minds, alter behavior, or create lasting impressions.
Article writers tend to buy in to that philosophy. But, does it always work? Actually, no. The constant onslaught of information has produced a culture of skimmers and clickers. Let’s face it, much online content is “yawn-able.”
What if we forget the message for the moment, and just tell good stories instead?
Maybe it’s not what we say as much as the way we say it that will keep customers coming back for more. Effective content — and we mean anything from Facebook posts to catalog item descriptions — should never be boring. Accurate? Yes. Spare and to the point? Absolutely. Dull? NO!
Mastering the Art of Storytelling
What is there about children’s stories that makes them so appealing, even for adults? It’s the simplicity. It’s also the unexpected. We all laugh with Dr. Seuss, stumble over the rhymes and make funny faces as we turn the pages of those books. His language has become part of our vocabulary. It’s okay to cry real tears with Shel Silverstein no matter how many times the old man returns to sit with the tree stump. His ideas have become part of the fabric of life.
Forget the 2%
So says Seth Godin, who often expresses big ideas in few words. Actually, he says, “forget the 10% or even the 90%.” In terms of writing for the marketplace, what does that mean?
It means that if you try to explain your idea, your product or your business philosophy too often and in too much detail, you’ll probably bore a lot of people. “Dumbing down” and constantly reiterating the same points will alienate readers and ultimately erode your client base. That’s traveling in the wrong direction.
Tell an interesting story, though, and your public will want more. Tell a joke (even on yourself) and most readers will laugh with you. Send a message of hope and inspiration and you’ll find followers. Keep your words simple and, just like a good children’s story, people will return to read more, and they will tell their friends. Again and again and again. Speak about big ideas in small doses, and you’ll gain ground.
There will be some, maybe even a substantial “some,” who just don’t get it. But that’s all right, according to Godin.
If you’re new to the content game, either as a writer or a marketer, the best advice is to do what feels right to you. Sometimes we learn large truths from short and simple blog posts. Cultivate the unexpected, tell seemingly unrelated stories, be entertaining, think like a child. Keep it simple. Resolve to send only “good stuff” out into cyberspace and expect good results for your efforts.
Bio: Adrienne C likes telling stories and is available to “spin good yarns” for WriterAccess clients across a wide range of topics.