Startup Blog

How to use great story-telling to engage prospective buyers

Posted by Mike Volpe on 2/11/10 9:00 AM

This is a guest post by Jeff Ogden is a demand generation expert and sales leader, as well as the President of Find New Customers, a lead generation company, which helps businesses create lead generation campaigns and continually publishes the best lead generation ideas, so his readers can determine the best lead generation strategy to find new customers. 

create compelling content for marketingSeth Godin, author of best-selling books on marketing like Purple Cow, Meatball Sundae and Permission Marketing and his latest book, Linchpin talks about the need to develop remarkable content. What is remarkable content? Seth says it is "Content the reader finds so interesting, people remark to each other about it."

How can marketers create content so interesting to the reader that people start talking to each other? That seems, to most B2B marketers, a bar set too high. They certainly grasp the concept, but they struggle to put it into action. The goal of this article is to give you specific ideas of how to put Seth's concepts into action.

How can our content deeply engage readers and earn their permission for continued communications?

In order to answer that question, we need to move to an area where most of us have little experience - publishing. Specifically, we're looking at great story-telling - that engages readers on an emotional level. Don Hewitt, the late creator of 60 Minutes, described the continued success of that show as being due to their ability to tell great stories. Look at the young girl in the picture above - she's obviously engrossed in a book she finds of great interest. She's emotionally engaged. But how might you do the same thing in your B2B company? I think the best way to examine this challenge is to look at what makes - and does not make - a great story.

What does NOT not make a great story?

  • Information about your company, your products or how great you are.
  • Technical and obtuse terms - your speeds and feeds
  • Company history and awards
What does make a great story?
  • An engrossing plot with surprises, twists and turns. In the B2B world, it may be as simple as a yarn of how companies can move from a business problem to stellar results. But it's got to be a great story.
  • Short chapters with images that support the story. Pleasing graphic treatments that engage the mind.
  • Each chapter ends with a "hook" - a tease of what is to come in the next chapter. That keeps the reader flipping pages and looking forward to the next installment.
  • The ability for the reader to direct the story. Let her move back and forth - look at an earlier chapter, for instance. Readers want to be empowered.
Lastly, once you have a great story, pleasing graphics, "hooks" end every chapter and you're ready to go, you need to take another page from the publishing industry and promote your story. Ask influential bloggers to read it and comment. Get your Twitter followers to tweet about it. Write about it on your blog.  Perhaps you are thinking "Hey, Jeff. This is a great idea. But I'm not a writer." As Brian Halligan, HubSpot CEO and Founder pointed out in a recent webcast - there are plenty of journalists and writers looking for work. All you have to do is go out and look for them.
Mike Volpe

Written by Mike Volpe

Mike Volpe is a startup advisor and angel investor based in Boston.

Topics: inbound marketing, strategy, blog

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