Want to Write Compelling Content? Think Like a Storyteller
Updated: Jan 28
Your Brand and the Hero's Journey
"When we position our customer as the hero and ourselves as the guide, we will be recognized as a trusted resource to help them overcome their challenges." ― Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand
Donald Miller's Building a Story Brand strategy uses many of the same principles as screenwriting to make content more engaging. It's a way to capture your audience's imagination and take them on a journey, where they solve the problem and become the hero. The concept matches that of a story arc in some of your favorite movies.
Even better? Story Brand content strategy works just as well when you're writing content for blog posts and web pages as it does when you're writing a script for a YouTube video.
Miller says that you can grab your audience's attention by first asking yourself these three questions:
What does the hero (your audience) want?
Who or what is the opposing force that keeps them from getting what they want?
What's at stake?
But just like any fiction writer, you need to know your characters. You need to know who the hero is in this story.
Clarify Who Is Your Ideal Customer (The Hero in the Story)
Before you can understand what your customer wants, you need to know who they are and what drives their decisions. For example, do they want to save money? Or maybe it's time they need most. Do they want to build influence in their industry? Maybe they're looking for ways to connect with others.
What are five wants your brand can fulfill?
Now narrow your focus to taking care of one at a time. Keep it simple. If you clarify your message around a single want, you invite the audience into the story. You don't confuse them about what it is you offer that will help them complete their mission.
Once you know who your customer is and what they want, it's time to think about your story's villain. This antagonist tries to keep the hero from getting what they want.
Consider Your Hero's Internal and External Challenges
The antagonist can be internal or external conflict. Who or what is keeping your audience from getting what they want? Develop a deep understanding of the villain—the problem you will help them overcome.
It's essential to position your brand as the way for your customer to rise up and take the necessary action to meet and beat those challenges.
A survey conducted by SEMrush found that 77% of the businesses that responded said they have a content marketing strategy. However, 39% rated it as average, and only 9% considered their business's content marketing strategy above average.
The problem is that most companies aren't aligning content and strategy in a way that positions the audience as the hero in the story. Instead, they may be providing too much information. Or worse yet, they could be making the story all about them.
There are four key considerations to content:
1. Identify the pain point. That is, what problem is it that the audience needs to solve?
2. Verify the issue with statistics and evidence.
3. Outline the solutions.
4. Demonstrate how your company can help the audience solve the problem.
If you take anything away from this post, remember that content marketing provides value for the customer. Sales copywriting is about selling your products and services. They're both valuable forms of writing, and there is a difference.
Miller's guide for Building a Story Brand works because the audience gets value from the content you offer. You give them usable information, and in return, you get loyal customers who trust your recommendations and become brand ambassadors.
Story Brand is one example of how great writing can help you improve your marketing strategy. For more writing tips and content strategy, please subscribe to the IndiGirl Blog for inbox updates. Also, ask yourself, is it time to hire a content writer?