Content MarketingSearch MarketingSocial Media & Influencer Marketing

Not Every Content Strategy Needs a Story

Stories are everywhere and I’m sick of it. Every social media app is trying to throw them in my face, every website is trying to lure me to their clickbait story, and now every brand wants to emotionally connect with me online. Please make it stop.

Reasons Why I’m Growing Weary of Stories:

  • Most people are terrible at telling stories.
  • Most people aren’t seeking stories. Gasp!

I know I’m going to upset the content professionals out there that love to wax poetic, build authenticity, and capture the emotions of their viewers, listeners, or readers.

There’s nothing better than a great story told by a master storyteller. But finding a great story or a great storyteller to tell it is quite rare. Great storytellers tout the benefits of great storytelling because it’s their business!

That may not be your business.

Google did a ton of research on what motivated people to take action online, landing in 4 different moments where businesses and consumers took action.

  1. I want to know moments
  2. I want to go moments
  3. I want to do moments
  4. I want to buy moments

Of course, if a buyer has the time to watch, listen, or read a story, they may be engaged deeper with your brand online. But I’d argue that this is rare. And I believe industry statistics support my premise. One example is the double-digit growth and popularity of (less than 2-minute) “how-to” videos online. People aren’t searching for stories, they searched for solutions to their problems.

I’m not saying that your company should abandon storytelling altogether. When we do the research and develop a compelling story, the infographics and whitepapers we design for our customers perform outstanding. However, we see many more people coming to and converting on our clients’ sites when we provide a solution to correct their problem.

While a slice of your content should be telling the compelling story of your company’s existance, of your founder, or of the customers that you’re assisting, you also need to have concise, explicit articles that speak to:

  1. How to fix the problem.
  2. How your solution helps fix the problem.
  3. Why your solution is different.
  4. Why you can be trusted.
  5. How your customers can justify your expense.

Example 1:  High Tech, No Story

NIST is the National Institute of Standards and Technology. They frequently publish lengthy research reports that recommend policies and procedures for topics such as access control, business continuity, incident response, disaster recoverability and several more key areas. The PDFs are incredibly detailed (as any formal research document should be), but most IT and Security experts need to understand the takeaways – not study every detail.

Our client, Lifeline Data Centers, is internationally recognized as a leader in innovation in the data center industry and experts in security. In fact, they’re a private data center that has attained the highest level of federal security requirements known – FEDRamp. Co-founder Rich Banta is one of the most certified experts on the planet. So, rather than regurgitating the entire document, Rich approves a synopsis researched and written by our team that explains the report. Sample – NIST 800-53.

The value of those articles is that it saves their prospects and customers a ton of time. With the recognition Rich has built, his synopsis of the research is trusted and valued by his audience. No story… just efficiently answering the I want to know needs of his audience.

Example 2: Valueable Research, No Story

Another one of our clients is a leading-edge solution for recruitment professionals to interview candidates via text message, Canvas. It’s such a new technology that there’s really no one searching for this type of platform at this point. However, the same decision-makers are seeking other information online. We helped their team research and develop a list of low-cost employee perks that boost engagement, retention and have a great return on investment.

Again, there’s no story there – but it’s a well-researched, comprehensive, and valuable article that answers I want to do when employers are seeking to implement new perks for employees.

What is Your Prospect Looking For?

Again, I’m not disregarding the power of great storytelling, I’m just advising that it’s not the only tool in your toolbox. You need to pick the right tool for the right prospect. Figure out what your audience is seeking and provide it for them.

It’s not always a story.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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  1. Thank you Douglas for very informative post. I know that Content is king but its not necessary that you content will must be 1000 + words. I believe that your content must have some unique information and who attract the visitors. No matter whats the length.

    1. Hi Jack,

      Totally agree – to an extent. It’s very difficult to write thoroughly about a topic without writing in detail. And you’ll find very few high-ranking pages for keywords that are searched for when looking for a product or service that are under 1,000 words. I’m not saying it’s a rule… but I’d say being absolutely thorough is.


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