Content Marketers Are Storytellers

Riding in the back seat of my father’s Dodge station wagon as a child, I often listened to CBS Radio Mystery Theatre, a long-running dramatic radio show during the 1970s and 80s that aired nightly on the CBS Radio Network. I was probably no more than 8 or 9 years old at the time, but remember being instantly hooked, first by the creaking door sound effects and foreboding theme music, then by the voice of E.G. Marshall, the show’s host, who invited listeners in “for another adventure of the macabre.” Thoughts of the program still send shivers down my spine and can transport me to another time and place.

The art of storytelling is just as powerful for me today as it was decades ago. It’s also probably one of the reasons why I chose a career in journalism, and then years later, content marketing.

Content marketers are also storytellers. If done correctly, we tell the stories of a particular brand, company or organization, and it’s our job to find that compelling angle—the “story” or “hook”—that the target market will find most compelling.

Consider this example by Tracey Sandilands of Interact Media. In a recent blog titled The Writer As Storyteller: How To Turn Marketing Content Into A Bestseller ( she highlighted the example of one content marketer, Daniel Burstein, who, while optimizing an e-commerce website for surfboard manufacturer Degree 33 Surfboards, discovered the veritable “hook,” that nugget of information customers would find most interesting.

In reviewing the company’s existing web copy, Burstein found that the surfboards Degree 33 sold were more expensive than its competitors but also 17 percent lighter. Instead of overlooking this piece of information, he turned it into the basis of a compelling company story. Burstein first identified the conflict or problem the company had addressed (the weight of surfboards), how the company took action (it created lighter boards), and how it resolved the problem (the surfboards were now easier to carry and provided increased flexibility while surfing).

As content marketers it’s easy to draft good content but the question we should ask ourselves is whether that content is truly making an impact. To do our job right, we must work closely with the client to find that “hook” and build a story around it. Once the hook is identified and the story told, tell your target audience just how this information will be useful to them. Drafting a compelling story with a call to action will resonate with your audience and drive the message home.

And you thought only E.G. Marshall could tell a good story? Think again.