• Robin Kastengren

Storytelling Mistakes to Avoid in Your Marketing

Storytelling helps to bring your business concepts down to a human level, down to something that everyone can connect with.

You may have heard that content marketing is a great way to tell your brand’s story. Or, perhaps you’re trying to keep your content more interesting by weaving stories throughout the writing. These are both great ways to keep customers connected with your brand—if you are doing it right. Remember that storytelling is about connecting with real people, something that your entire business centers around. Storytelling helps to bring your business concepts down to a human level, down to something that everyone can connect with. If you want to be more successful in telling stories, avoid these mistakes.

1. Telling Lies Instead of Stories

If you create a fictionalized account of a person using your product, it’s not a lie until you start misrepresenting what your product can do. In other words, if you sell bikes, and you tell a story about a man finding his freedom by riding off into the sunset, you are good. If the bike takes off E.T.-style and flies across the moon, not so much.

Of course, lies are not always so blatant and easy to spot. Do not be tempted to leave out relevant information that might change someone’s mind or to add a few sparkly details that do not actually exist.

2. Telling Pointless Stories

No matter how great the story is, if it is not relevant to your business then save it for your personal social media feed. You might have an amusing anecdote about picking up your morning coffee, or maybe you picked up an interesting WWII fact during a weekend PBS binge. Those are both very nice things, but they do not have a place in your content. Make sure your stories lead the reader somewhere that is useful and relevant to both them and your business.

3. Telling Stories Badly and Rambling

Let’s face it: not everyone is cut out to be a storyteller. Be honest with yourself when you are writing stories to make sure you are entertaining and that you are bringing the reader along with you. Also, be sure to cut the story down so you are not rambling on for 800 words needlessly. A few details help the reader to envision your scenario. Too many will make them click “back.”

4. Telling Too Many Stories

Now that content marketers are talking about storytelling, it is starting to get a little too much buzz. If you can write a good story and you have a good story that fits the topic you are writing about, go for it. Otherwise, stay with what you know best. Take a look at this video from graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister. He gets right to the point and does not mince words so make sure you’re watching this somewhere that the occasional f-bomb won’t get you fired.

Now, you don’t have to be a storyteller to put a few stories in your content. You also do not have to be afraid of putting a few stories in your work because you don’t want people to think you are a poser. I think the moral of the story here is to use stories when they are honest and when they make sense for your message. When you do it thoughtfully, carefully, and sparingly, you will get it right.

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