How Effective Content Marketing Depends On Timeless Storytelling Principles

August 17, 2023


Has unsuccessful digital marketing hurt your business? Whether attempting to manage social media or SEO in-house or engaging with a nearby “SEO agency,” the desired outcomes often remain elusive.

So what’s the secret to a  triumphant digital marketing strategy?

Simply, it’s telling a compelling story in which the prospect (the potential customer) is the hero—not you, and not your business.

Leave ineffective marketing tactics behind and embark on a storytelling journey with us, will you?

Crafting a Persuasive Story for Customer Engagement

You’re a law firm. Or a nonprofit. Or a tech startup. Or ….


But what you aren’t is the next William Shakespeare.

Indeed, most businesses know they need strategic PR and content marketing, yet they grapple with communicating their offerings in a way that resonates with readers—er, potential customers, I mean.

Inspiring them to take action means transforming this narrative, effectively communicating your value proposition and laying the foundation for marketing success.

Character Development: Crafting the Engaging Persona

Great stories center around a protagonist facing a challenge. Guided by mentors, he or she tries and fails and tries and fails and, in the end, achieves victory.

Adopting this framework for your business means understanding your customer persona, acknowledging their problems, empathizing with their emotions, and articulating their aspirations. Finally, it means outlining a viable roadmap to a happy ending.

The twists and turns of our story will guide prospects toward conversion, rendering your website a beacon amidst the marketing noise.

Introducing the Problem: Igniting the Narrative

The emergence of a problem marks the inception of a captivating story. The words on your website must demonstrate that you fully understand the challenges your customers confront. Articulate their dilemma; it’s the first step in captivating and engaging your audience.

Let’s flip the narrative. Here are three examples of problems your business might be facing:

  1. No Online Visibility: Many businesses struggle to be seen and heard in the crowded online landscape. They might find that their website is not ranking well in Google results, making it difficult for potential customers to find them.

  2. Negative Online Reputation: Businesses inevitably get negative online reviews or even news articles that tarnish their reputation. 

  3. Lack of Qualified Leads: Even if your business has no problem attracting website visitors, you may struggle to convert those visitors into customers. This could be due to unclear messaging, a confusing user experience, or a mismatch between what your business offers and what visitors are seeking. 

As your guide, I, Marshall, do my best to demonstrate how strategic PR and content marketing hyperfocused on your target audience is the solution to all these problems and more:

  1. Content marketing built on keyword research and market analysis will improve the visibility of your website in search engine results. 
  2. Effective digital PR strategies can counteract negative publicity and highlight positive aspects of the business.
  3. Strategic SEO and PR efforts can help align messaging, improve user experience, and increase the likelihood of converting leads into sales.

That’s what *I* offer as a guide.

What about you and your business. What do you offer?

Guiding the Way: Your Company as the Mentor

In most movies and books, the hero soon finds a guide or a companion who will illuminate their path.

In your blog articles, website content, and other marketing collateral, position your business as the guide stepping into the narrative, imparting wisdom to prospective customers.

Don’t put your business into the role of the hero. If your website is all about your core beliefs, your accolades, your vision and your track record, you aren’t appealing to the prospect’s journey. You aren’t telling their story; you’re telling your story.

An overabundance of  “we” language leads to disengagement. Mere moments before, the prospect was searching Google for solutions. Upon finding your site, all they’ll see is that you don’t seem to understand their problem at all.

So they hit that “back” button.

Do you think you do a good job positioning yourself as the mentor/guide? Ask yourself:

  1. Does your website demonstrate comprehension of the customer’s problem?
  2. Does your website prioritize the customer over self-promotion?
  3. Does the word “you” appear more often than the word “we”?
  4. Does your website convey both authority and empathy?

Once your company successfully embraces the role of guide, you’ll be ready to give your visitors what they want: An actionable roadmap.

Formulating the Action Plan: Empowering Your Hero

It takes empathy, authority, and a well-defined action plan to turn a prospect into a customer.

This means not only understanding the predicaments your prospects face and guiding them with your expertise but also presenting a concrete plan that simplifies their path forward. Your prospect won’t immediately understand everything about your business and how it works as soon as they meet you. Give them a 1-2-3 plan for doing business with you:

ONE: Driving customer engagement necessitates a clear call to action. Ambiguities like “learn more” won’t cut it; instead, use precise language that compels users to act. Phrases like “schedule a call today” bring immediacy and clarity into your call to action.

TWO: The second step in the plan  is about giving clear expectations. Here is where you show what happens after the prospect acts on your call to action. Users should be able to anticipate the consequence of choosing to engage with you. Show them what they’ll get! Don’t ask them to fill out a form or pick up the phone and call you without showing them that you’ll be swiftly conveying them towards the success they so desperately seek. 

THREE: Successful narratives depict the hero’s journey from struggle to triumph. Your marketing should illustrate the path to success with vivid imagery. Customers need to be convinced of the positive outcomes your products or services deliver, otherwise they have no reason to make a purchasing decision.

Invoking Action: A Compelling Call to Action

As previously mentioned, the absence of a clear call to action may hinder your customer’s willingness to engage. Having already pinpointed your customer’s issue and empathized with their emotions, you’ve positioned yourself as a reliable guide, well-versed in navigating the optimal path forward.

With the comprehensive 1-2-3 plan now accessible on your website, you’re equipped to showcase a user-friendly process for conducting business.

Following these steps, the time has come to prompt action. This call to action should seamlessly align with the initial phase of the outlined 1-2-3 plan, fostering a cohesive journey.

Ultimately, the call to action is where your customer reaches a pivotal juncture: persisting in their current state or undergoing a transformative experience through your product or service.

Avoid ambiguity within your call to action. Instead, provide clear and precise directives, guiding them on exactly what steps to take.

Failure As A Tool To Keep The Hero On His Or Her Journey

The prospect shouldn’t be told that giving you their money will make them a hero. But they should be shown why not giving you their money might deprive them of their happy ending.

What’s a good story without the risk of failure?

Failure is what happens if your customer’s problem goes unsolved. 

Most customers don’t convert until they feel a healthy bit of pressure. There’s a way to make your customer
feel like they are doing something heroic by buying what you are selling.

I’m not talking about marketing gimmicks here. Manipulative stories often use failure to “get the customer to do something.” A misleading, manipulative story makes failure the hero of the story (“give us your money or your business will shut down and your most hated competitor will take all your customers!”).

The story that actually converts prospects uses the potential for failure as a way to advance their narrative—thee one in which they are the hero.

Sure, give them a little taste of what happens if they don’t act. Most prospects don’t convert until they feel a healthy bit of pressure. You can use honest stories of previous prospects who didn’t achieve the victorious outcomes they sought because they didn’t act (or because they did business with your competitor). These real-world cautionary tales present failure as  the consequence of doing the wrong thing (or not doing anything at all).  Executed thoughtfully, this approach not only motivates prospects but also ensures a genuine and positive customer experience.

Success: The Ultimate Destination

You want a happy ending for your prospects. Your role is to unveil that success to them even before they attain it. 

Give them a taste of triumph early on; let it pave the way for their eventual victory. As they grapple with challenges, that initial glimpse of achievement propels them through their transformative journey.

On a more tangible level, your website and promotional materials should vividly portray what success is to each individual customer. Whether it’s experiencing your product’s benefits or enjoying an improved quality of life due to your service, an exciting story will get them there better than an infomercial or an annoying sales pitch.

We aren’t just spinning yarns here … Incorporating these storytelling principles into your content marketing can truly serve as a catalyst for your customers’ victories. By understanding their dilemmas, offering clear solutions, and painting a vivid picture of success, you craft a narrative that resonates deeply, ensuring your customers become the heroes of their own stories.


As always, hit me up if you have any suggestions about storytelling in content marketing. Just put “storytelling” in the field that says “Tell me about your business and your goals.”

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