“I Don’t Want to Listen to You, But I’ll Listen to Your Stories.”

This post was written by John White on Thu, 03 Dec 2009 15:11:30 +0000
Posted Under: blog,case studies,tell your story

Ancient storytellingHire marketing communications writers who can tell a good story. Then have them tell yours.

The biggest problems around creating new, interesting content are:

  1. Finding time to do it consistently.
  2. Finding talent to do it “magnetically.”
  3. Finding an angle to do it “engagingly.”

These problems go away if you think in terms of stories. Prospects won’t listen to you, but they’ll listen to your stories.

So, What’s a Story?

“Tell the truth and make it rhyme.”

A songwriter named Terry Black tells me that that line comes from a Pirates of the Mississippi song in the 1990s. I once saw it ascribed to John Lennon (or maybe Bob Dylan talking to John Lennon), but I can’t recall where.¹

This is how Homer conveyed The Iliad and The Odyssey. He told the truth and made it rhyme.

All the poets in all the languages do it.

Why? Because it’s:

  1. consistent, as Steve Shaw points out on his Article Marketing Blog
  2. magnetic, as Jason Cohen describes on Copyblogger (point #9)
  3. engaging, as in the Chris Baggott Guide to Blogging

But most of all, it’s the way we want to hear things, and the way in which we best remember them almost from the beginning of our lives.

As a marketing manager, you need to set the tone and message for your content. Can you keep it coming back to stories? The same format you’ve known since you were a toddler?

Case Studies: Stories out of Whack?

Think about the last case study you read. Wasn’t it a story gone wrong? Some writer took all the fun out of a perfectly good story by shoehorning it into a problem-solution-result structure. “It makes for better reading,” he said.

What if he had simply told the truth and made it rhyme? Wouldn’t it have been more interesting? For that matter, why bother publishing the case study if there’s no story to it?

John White of venTAJA Marketing posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it.

¹After posting, I stumbled onto a Linked Answer from Tim Lemire that referred to this same topic. Lennon-minded readers may enjoy the detour: “John Lennon once said: ‘Write what you’re feeling, make it rhyme, and put it to music — there’s your song.'”

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