by Adam Witty, Founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks and co-author of “Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant“
Chances are, if you think your story’s worth telling, it probably is. After all, humans are drawn to stories more than any other narrative form. Studies have shown that people are twenty-two times more likely to remember stories than they are facts and figures alone. That’s why marketing is rooted in storytelling — and any successful brand you can think of has a compelling tale to tell. The data backs this up too, indicating that storytelling boosts trust and majorly improves conversion rates as well.
But that doesn’t mean you should just plop something on the page (or online) and call it a day. Whether you’re sharing the history of your personal life or your business (or both!), you can — and should — certainly take steps to make it as relevant as possible to your target audience.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you draft your story:
What’s the point?
Every piece of writing should have a core message that drives the story to begin with. Before you begin writing, determine what your message is, and make sure the content you choose to share supports it. Otherwise, you run the risk of rambling on and on — and losing listeners along the way.
What’s your goal?
Ask yourself why you’re telling this story. Is your goal to spur your audience to action, explain the basis for your expertise, inspire them in one way or another, highlight commonalities you share, or educate them on a particular subject? When you know your goal, you can work to ensure your story supports it.
Don’t shy away from conflict.
Why? It’s essential to good storytelling. Every story — no matter its goal — needs some conflict. It’s conflict that readers hook into, and thus it’s essential to capture their attention. If you’re shy about revealing the tough stuff you’ve experienced as an individual or as a brand, don’t be. No person — or company — is perfect, and that fact actually makes us all a little more compelling. While you don’t have to expose all the skeletons in your closet, consider revealing a cobweb or two. Your story will be better for it and chances are so will your brand, whether it’s personal or company-wide.
Keep in mind that quality matters more than quantity.
Today’s attention spans are notoriously short. While characters and details are essential to draw readers in, try to keep things economical and tight. Challenge yourself to tell your story as quickly as you can, and then see which areas may need a little fleshing out. Alternatively, go long — documenting every moment you can remember about a particular period of time — and then pare things back, keeping only the content that seems to serve your purpose.
Unsure where to start when it comes to crafting your personal opus? Treat yourself to a little brainstorming session. Carve out some time, find a quiet place and get to work, jotting down the key moments you may want to talk about. When you have a solid list of items, think about the significance of each. What purpose did they serve in your experience? What message might they impart to readers? Is there a corresponding conflict that will cause your audience’s ears to perk up?
Next, look at what you’ve written down and think about what you’ve got — does this material lend itself to a cohesive book, or even a few of them? Or would it be better as a series of social media or blog posts?
Now, sit back and take a deep breath — you’ve done the hardest part, getting something down on paper. Before you move on to the next task, schedule in your next writing session. Give yourself a little space and time, and then come back to what you’ve done and see where it takes you.
Adam Witty, co-author of “Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant“, is the founder and CEO of Advantage Media. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors.