What’s compelling content? Content that tells a good story. Try this simple exercise: everywhere that you are currently referencing your content marketing efforts, replace content marketing with story and see if what you’re saying still rings true or not.

“We’ve published 6 pieces of content marketing on a rigorous schedule” becomes “We’ve published 6 great stories on a rigorous schedule”. Now look at those 6 stories. Are they actually great stories?

“We have a clear content marketing strategy for Q4” becomes “We have a clear storytelling strategy for Q4”. Do you really? Are you committed to actually writing decent stories for 3 months, or are you just publishing corporate garbage that nicely fits in a trendy marketing term?

“Free webinar: become a content marketing machine” becomes “Free webinar: become a storytelling machine!”. Somehow the image of a great storyteller sitting around a fireplace with a mug of ale is incongruous with a giant robotic machine and a high speed conveyor belt cranking out widgets, isn’t it?

Here’s the ultimate test, a variation of something I’ve said in public talks for a while. No one ever reads a press release to a child at bedtime (though certainly that’d be one way to bore them to sleep). If you have a young child or you have a colleague who is a parent of a young child, I’d challenge you to take your finest “piece of content marketing” and read it to the child. If you can keep their attention for more than a few seconds, you clearly have a great story to tell (and you tell it well). If you lose them at the first mention of a flexible, scalable, enterprise turnkey solution to leverage inbound marketing synergy, then either the snoring or the bored yawns and requests for a different story will alert you that what you have to say probably isn’t that good of a story.

Of course, if the story you’re telling requires a more mature audience, then get up at a Toastmasters or at a walk-in open mic night and try telling it in front of the crowd. If you don’t get bottles flung at you, then you might have a good story to tell.

Try it for a week. Replace “content” with “story” and see if you’ve actually got a story to tell that will keep the attention of your audience.

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