Monday, 2 March 2015

The Elements Of A Good Story

Content marketing has risen in dominance to become one of the most effective marketing techniques of the modern times. Customers are demanding to be entertained, educated and helped first through content before they make up their minds on what to buy and from which supplier.

This is called the Zero Moment Of Truth (ZMOT) and it is imperative that brands create as much content as is possible to satisfy these pressing content requirements. However, therein lies the dilemma. There is too much clutter online that passes for content marketing. Balancing quantity and quality is important if the set targets are to be achieved.

Creating compelling stories is an important step in this direction. A "story is a fact, wrapped in an emotion that compels us to take an action that transforms our world". Keywords in the definition are fact, emotion and action.

In short, story-telling enables brands to tap into the emotional reservoirs of their customers for the purpose of triggering a profitable response.

Actually story telling is just a tactic in the bigger scheme of things where the real objective is emotional branding. The Wikipedia offers a classic definition of emotional branding:
"Emotional branding is a term used within marketing communication that refers to the practice of building brands that appeal directly to a consumer's emotional state, needs and aspirations. Emotional branding is successful when it triggers an emotional response in the consumer, that is, a desire for the advertised brand (or product) that cannot fully be rationalized."

A great story is created when the following 5 key elements are included in a narrative:
This is the fire that ignites an emotional reaction in the audience and unifies it into a collective spellbound group. Passion is the reason why a story is told. Passion explains why storytellers first "warm up" an audience to create excitement and expectancy.

Passionless stories are usually dead on arrival. They waste time and money, resources which are notorious for being finite.

On the contrary, a story told in a passionate way is hard to ignore and it scores big by making the achievement of business goals possible.

Every story needs a hero. This is not, necessarily, the man who dodges bullets by merely swaying his neck. A hero is a character in the story who best expresses the point of view behind the plot. The hero must simulate the circumstances that the targeted audience can relate to and make them see the world through his eyes. It is only when an audience identifies with the hero in a seamless way that it can be influenced to take specific actions.

An antagonist is the obstacle or conflict that opposes the hero. This is the person or situation the hero must overcome if the point of view of the story is to be fulfilled. Without a conflict there is no story. Antagonists are not bad, far from it. Their more noble purpose is to provide a background of darkness against which the stars will shine brighter.

This is the aha! moment in the story. The time when the hero's eyes light up as he joins the dots and becomes aware of the best action or decision to make. Awareness represents the climax of the story and it is usually a major turnaround of events or circumstances. Something has to change in the audience and it must essentially lead to an anticipated customer action.

This is the natural result of a well told story result and raison d'etre of why the story was told in the first place. Transformation is the playing field for the story.

Storytelling is revolutionising content marketing in very deep ways. Brands can now make emotional connections with their target audience through storytelling.

However in order for a story to fly, it should be created in the framework of 5 core elements which are passion, hero, antagonist, awareness and transformation.

A story that is constructed this way will enjoy more shares on social media platforms.