When you’re writing a story – you’re marketing. You may not realize it but that’s exactly what you’re doing. And, the better your story is the better your marketing will be to sell it.
This week we’re going to go over some common mistakes made in marketing with stories. In some of my previous articles, we’ve touched on some mistakes before but we’ll delve into them a bit deeper this time. These are common mistakes made in all types of marketing, including marketing with stories.
We know why storytelling is so important already, it’s because human beings are wired to hear stories and act on stories. That it’s in our DNA. This is how children have been taught morals for centuries, and how we learn and entertain ourselves since the beginning of time. First as oral stories, often using pictures drawn in the sand, on tablets, or on cave walls, and finally as written words. As powerful as storytelling can be there are some things that should be avoided.
Industry Jargon / Buzzwords — Just don’t do it. Industry jargon sounds like someone just opened up a thesaurus and went crazy making word salad. Talk like you’re a real person and people will listen. Business buzzwords can kill a great story faster than a telemarketer calling you at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Misleading or Inaccurate Words & Phrases — Nothing is worse than clicking through to read what looks like a compelling story to find it’s just another sales page. Don’t trick your audience, they won’t appreciate it, and it won’t work. We live in a time where the public is exceptionally intelligent and knowledgeable about pretty much anything they want to buy, don’t treat your audience as if they’re anything but. Also, make sure you really understand the terms you’re using, even if you think something is common knowledge, double-check the terms you use to ensure they are accurate. If you want to use terms such as “C’est la vie” spell it right and know what it means.
Incomplete Arguments — When you make any statements of fact, be sure to finish your arguments. Remember the rules of who, what, when, why & how. If you form a sentence that is meant to be an argument for something or against something then you need to answer all five of those ideas within the argument for it to be complete. Always frame your thoughts in terms of how your audience will read them and answer the questions with facts to back up the story.
Poor Writing Style — The best sentence structure is short. If you can avoid long paragraphs, complex sentence structure, and remember to add white space, you’ll make your points easier to read. People like reading chunky content. Use lists, appropriate fonts, and avoid the desire to use fancy colors that make it hard for your audience to read.
If you think about it, with the advent of the Internet we’ve really come full circle. We can now share our stories in a whole new way using all the senses, just like our ancestors did when sitting around a campfire drawing in the dirt, except now we can do it with far-reaching technology. Stories can be written, made visual with added pictures, and we can even add audio if we desire to make them more interesting, sharable and compelling. Some things never go out of fashion.
Next post we’ll talk about some of the ideas mentioned here that can help make your stories more exciting, interactive, fun and memorable.