Attention: You’re Now a Storyteller – Get Used to It

Become a storyteller

Attract and engage customers with a compelling story.

My oldest daughter is about to turn nine (or may have already if you’re reading this after January). I have a hard time reconciling the spectacled, Minecraft-obsessed girl whose head reaches my collar bone with the 21-inch baby I delivered in a tub so many years ago. She is so different in so many ways – which is completely understandable. But there are a few things that are still the same. She still has trouble going to sleep. She still sways to Bob Marley’s “3 Little Birds.” She still loves avocados.

If you’re an SEO copywriter, or creating content in any form for the web, you’ve had just as much change in the last nine years. Some things are still the same. You still need to understand your audience. You still need a plan. You still need to publish consistently.

But some things are vastly different. Thanks to ongoing Google updates, the introduction of social media and increased consumer familiarity with the web, you’re probably experiencing the same kind of spinning feeling I experience when I look at my nine-year-old. “Where has the time gone? And how do I handle things now?”

Unlike the early days of SEO copywriting, you can’t keyword stuff and get great results. You can’t even rely on customers to visit your website before they make a decision about company.  They are connecting with you on Facebook, following you on Twitter or reading a landing page.

You have to go above and beyond your keyword list to get a reaction. There has to be a general theme – or story – that runs through the entirety of your marketing. People are getting the story in pieces from different platforms so it has to be consistent.

You’re a storyteller now – whether you like it or not. The nature of the web, how consumers use it and how your information is presented in search engines and social media demands it.

Here’s how to develop a story that speaks to your audience no matter where they are finding you or how you are interacting.

Stand for something.

There are multiple competitors for your ideal customers’ attention and money (and if there aren’t, you really shouldn’t be in business). You have to stand for something in order to stick out. It’s one of the things that first drew me to this very site years ago. Heather’s site was well optimized (as it should be) so naturally it showed up first when I searched for “seo copywriting” – but the story of her company, her approach and her clients, results were what drew me in. She stands for ethical, simple and effective SEO copy and it comes through in her site and her resources.

Paint pictures with your words.

The “just the facts” approach to your website may cover all of the bullet points you need covered, but it’s not engaging enough to keep people around. Your audience has multiple sources to rely on for the same information you’re delivering. You need to take steps to make your story resonate with your audience.

Every SEO content company has written an article about why it’s so important to know your audience – but Amy Teeple’s recent post on singing the right song to your customers goes the extra mile. It provides the facts but manages to paint a memorable picture.

Give examples, use customer testimonials, or even relate some personal details. When you paint pictures with your words you can cover the facts but also draw in your readers so you make a lasting impression.

Engage and encourage.

Your role is to sell your products or services – but in order to do that you have to engage and encourage your audience. Your content can’t read like you’re in it for the sale. Your job is to be an advocate for your audience. You’re there to help. Learn how to engage on each platform you’re using for marketing, and then be present as a helpful, encouraging voice to guide your audience to the right decision.

What do you stand for? What pictures are you painting for your audience? Are you encouraging them? When you can answer these questions with no hesitation, you’ve fully made the leap from keyword copy to brand storytelling.

A lot has changed in the past nine years – but a lot hasn’t. People still want to find useful and helpful information, and buy from companies that they know, like and trust. By embracing your role as a storyteller, you can get there.

About the Author

Courtney Jones is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of the SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

Photo thanks to Zhao ! (Storytelling @ Thurdays)

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4 replies
  1. Benjamin Beck says:

    Hi Courtney,

    Great post, it’s amazing how important story telling is in marketing!

    When it comes to engaging and encouraging readers what tips do you have for not coming across as a slimy salesman?

  2. Shauna says:

    I think one of the great things coming out of the evolution of google is that we’re starting to consistently communicate online as human beings. We want to be engaged, we want to connect, we want to know we’re talking to another living, breathing person – so it makes perfect sense to tell them something meaningful about yourself or your business (or that of the business you’re writing copy for) in an engaging, hey, talk to me kind of way. I mean let’s face it, how many people enjoyed reading text books at school?


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