Story is the Most Powerful Force in the Universe

Story is the Most Powerful Force in the Universe

Think about the most important decision you ever made. Personal, professional, whatever. Got it? Now let me ask you this. Did you make that decision because you analyzed all the facts and figures, balanced the probabilities, and picked the optimal choice? Or did you make that decision based on the kind of person you wanted to be and the kind of life you wanted to live? For most people, it’s the latter, and that’s the power of story.

Every Decision is a Journey

To make a decision, you have to go through a process, and that process starts when you become aware of a problem. You look at the problem. You look at solutions. You look at yourself. You look at the world. You mash it all together, think about it for a while, and come to a conclusion. It’s true when you’re deciding what to have for dinner. It’s true when you’re deciding to propose marriage. And it’s true for every business decision—from the most trivial to the most important—that you ever make. That process is a journey. You start in one situation, and you end in another. That’s every story ever told.

Every Journey Starts with a Hero

More specifically, every story starts with a hero with a problem. You’re hungry. Your relationship has gotten to “that point.” Your business has hit a plateau. Whatever it is, you realize that things cannot go on as they are much longer. The bigger the decision, the more you look inside. If you’re just hungry and you’re looking for dinner, the extent of your self-analysis might be asking yourself whether you feel like pizza or Chinese food. If you’re looking to get married, you’re asking yourself much more fundamental questions. Who am I? What do I want out of life? Is this the person I want to spend my life with? If your business has plateaued, the questions you ask are existential. Do you want to expand at all? Do you want to expand by doing the same thing in more places? Do you want to expand by doing more things in the same place? Do you want to chuck it all, sell the business, and start over doing something else? Or do you just need more paying customers? You have a problem. In trying to solve it, you ask questions. You find out more about the world. You find out more about yourself. You make decisions. You take actions. You deal with the consequences. That’s every story ever told.

The Power of the Story is the Power of Identity

The reason every story involves self-reflection is that the more important a decision is, the more it has to do with who we are, and nobody writes stories about unimportant things. When we’re trying to influence other people’s actions, we’re not just telling stories. We’re convincing people that they’re the hero in the stories we want them to tell. If we can do that, their actions will follow, and they will make a purchase, vote a certain way, or whatever. It’s not mind control. You can’t simply tell them what to do. You cannot override their inherent value system. You have to convince them that people like them would do things a certain way while presenting them an easy way to do it. When it works, they don’t feel like they’ve been sold to or harangued into doing something. They feel virtuous because they’ve done something good people should do. And that, right there, is the power of story. People have values. Story attaches actions to those values to produce a narrative. When you tell people a story that aligns with their values, they often take the actions outlined in the story. When you tell people that responsible people buy life insurance, people who see themselves as responsible buy life insurance. When you tell people that this car is safer for young children than that one, people with young children buy this car more often than that one. When you tell people that this beer is about having fun with friends, they order this beer when they’re having fun with friends. When you tell people what people like them do, they do it.

What This Has to do With Business

Your potential customers have a problem you can solve. In fact, the moment they realize they have that problem is the moment they turn into your potential customer. Your job as a business is to provide the solution. Your job as a marketer is to convince them they’re the kind of people who use your solution. In this era of splintered attention, Content Marketing is how you do that. A good Content Marketing strategy meets your customers when and where they first have a problem and leads them to your solution. You do that by:
  • Attracting their Attention—because they can’t buy from you unless they know who you are.
  • Establishing an Affinity—because they do business with businesses they like.
  • Establishing your Authority—because they won’t buy from you unless they trust you.
You’ve probably heard of that as the Know-Like-Trust paradigm. I prefer to think of it as the Customer’s Journey because Liking and Trusting aren’t simple switches that flip on and off. They’re sliding scales.

I’m Your Cartographer

I’m a Copyblogger Certified Content Marketer. That means I’ve studied with the premiere Content Marketing educators on the internet and I’ve demonstrated to their satisfaction that I know what I’m doing. I draw that map between your potential customer’s first questions and the solution you provide. I’ll work with you to develop a strategy that attracts the right kind of attention, demonstrates your authority, and generates an affinity between you and your best customers. I’ll do the keyword research that identifies the precise words and phrases your potential customers are using when searching for solutions like yours. I’ll plan out content that uses those phrases and is designed to attract attention, develop an affinity, and establish your authority by educating the reader. I’ll execute that plan. It might include revamping some site content—Home Pages, About Pages, Landing Pages, and the like. It will almost certainly include a stream of blog articles to feed into your social media strategy. You don’t have to hire me. You can go with whoever you have in house. You can leave it up to your web team. You can hire someone from one of those content mills. That’s fine if you just want content that’s in decent English most of the time. But if you want someone who isn’t just “good with words” but good with the strategy and tactics behind the words, you want a Content Marketing professional. You want me. Drop your best business e-mail address in the box, and we’ll get started. p.s. I pride myself on my professionalism. I answer e-mails promptly. I hit my deadlines. I do the job on time and on budget, and I always sweat the small stuff.

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