11 Storytelling Lessons That Will Transform Your Content Marketing

I was a wide-eyed, frizzy-haired 25-year-old when I first got the offer of a lifetime: to be in charge of content for a small tech company called Contently.

When I asked my new boss for direction, he pointed to the freshly painted mural on the office wall. It read: “Those who tell the stories rule the world.”

“Just do your thing,” he said. “Tell awesome stories.”


Of course, content marketing is more complicated than that. You need to create content that will educate and inspire your target audience and drive meaningful business results. You need a smart distribution strategy and a mechanism for constantly optimizing your content. But if you don’t have great stories, you’ll fail.

For the past six years, I’ve been obsessed with understanding how storytelling can transform a business. While most people are looking for a magic solution or singular trick, the truth is that storytelling is an art and a science.

Contently co-founder Shane Snow and I recently wrote a book called The Storytelling Edge revealing all of our research and guidance—check it out here. Or better yet, learn more from best-selling author and content marketing luminary Jay Baer, who read the book and distilled his favorite storytelling lessons into a nine-minute video.

1. CMOs embrace content

Seventy-eight percent of CMOs at large companies think content is the future of their job.

2. Stories change everything

Just ask poet Jacques Prévert.

3. Stories impact your brain

When more of your brain is at work, there’s a greater chance you’ll remember what you’re processing.

4. Relatability is a great story

Relevancy is the killer app.

5. Fluency is a great story asset

The best stories are about more than vocabulary or structure.

6. Use the Sludge Report

Cut your story in half, see what happens.

7. Perspiration, not inspiration

Great stories aren’t a miracle. They’re a combination of hard work and optimization.

8. Measure average finish

If people don’t finish your story, it’s time to change something.

9. Measure email conversion

Is your work nudging people to ask for more?

10. Good enough is not enough

Mediocre stories fail, and paid distribution won’t fix that.

11. Culture matters

If you want to be consistent, your entire company needs to believe in the power of storytelling.

Check it out, and let us know what you think @joelazauskas, @shanesnow, and @JayBaer.

Image by Igor Ovsyannykov / Unsplash

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