Why Do We Love Stories So Much?

Image of cave drawing

A Powerful Communication Model for Content Marketing

On the one hand, when our organization’s marketing communications are producing results, we are able to build a connection with our audiences. We know this. These connections are the result of the right information, being delivered at the right time, to the right audience. We share our ideas, establish understanding and may ask our readers to act. On the other hand, the tools we use are simply instruments… vessels that we employ to circulate our stories.

If you are with me so far, you will agree then that the language, words and stories… the communication is key to establishing that connection with our audiences and building a strong brand. Not the tools or tactics, but the content.

There are a few simple, yet particular qualities you can add to your marketing communications, which can put a stop to poor results caused by content that is dismissed, quickly forgotten or never acted upon.

Cave Drawings Morphed into Content Marketing

This is not meant to be an exercise in communication theory; however, knowing how we humans transitioned from communicating with cave drawings to creating the content marketing we do today makes this discussion all that more interesting! It also proves the tremendous power communication has.

Before the Written Word

If you are familiar with Walter Ong’s theories about oral cultures, you will know about his belief that because words were restricted to sound in the oral communities he studied, language not only determined the type of expression, but also thought processes.

Ong also believed that:

  • Language had great power and influence. (For example, older members of the community held greater authority because, due to their age, they were more knowledgeable). The lesson here: Knowledge equated to power.
  • Communication was often presented with a social context. (And resulted in members of the community taking action). The lesson here: Communication was relatable to individuals.
  • Pronouncements often contained stories or folklore (And featured a type of conflict too). The lesson here: Storytelling conjured emotions.

New Era of Inventions

At some point, man began to laboriously scratch his messages into rock walls and stone tablets because the urge to communicate was so irresistible! When it became important to interact with the masses, man created papyrus. The printing press–invented around the year 1440–permanently changed our world; many believe it was the driving force for democracy. In North America, we saw inventions like the telegraph close geographic gaps between communities. With each new invention, the amount of communication increased substantially.

How Powerful is Language?

If you are still not convinced about the power of communication, Mark Pagel’s TED Talk, which explores the immense power of language, may persuade you. He explains:

“Language is a piece of social technology for enhancing the benefits of co-operation, for reaching agreements, for striking deals and for coordinating our activities. We take this for granted. It is the most valuable trait we have.”

Powerful words (no pun intended). I encourage you to watch his TED Talk.

A Model for Modern-day Content Marketing

Here are a few simple, yet particular qualities you can add to your marketing communications, which can put a stop to poor results caused by programs that do not resonate with your audiences.

  • Apply positive human qualities: Our communication has significant power and those who rely on our words deserve to hear an authentic and honest voice. Always be trustworthy and ethical. Take the moral high road. It also does not hurt to be humble.
  • Employ the power of stories: Storytelling has always been a way to entertain and educate. But, you need to find a balance between selfless storytelling and corporate promotion that works for your organization. Consider this advice:

“Rather than harping on features or facts [in marketing], we need to focus on feelings.”

Jonah Berger in Contagious (I recommend you read it).

  • Focus on quality and re-purpose: Choose quality over quantity for your content marketing. Tailor and re-purpose your content for different communications. Do not repeat the exact same message on every channel (you will end up annoying your audience). Your organization does not need to use every tool in the toolbox.
  • Always listen and learn: Communication tactics are always changing. Do not ignore new tools, but don’t jump on bandwagons either. Stay current by listening and learning. Make adjustments to your programs when and where it makes good sense to do so.

Focus on the Content Not Consumption

In addition to these four tips, I would also encourage you to move your focus away from the number of likes on social media, hits on your website, and opens on your newsletter. In my opinion, these are the wrong metrics to be measuring.

Instead, evaluate your marketing communications up against what your organization’s business goals are. You can start by answering these two simple questions:

  • What purpose does our organization serve?
  • Are our marketing communications helping to realize that purpose?

“It’s not only a recipe for success; it’s simply the right thing to do.”

Why do you think we love stories so much? What do you think of this model for modern-day content marketing? Please comment or reach out to me; I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Good luck!

The image is from one of our favourite stock photography websites: istockphoto.com

K. Barker

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