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Corporate Content and Personal Stories

Do you struggle with the idea of mixing personal stories with corporate content?  Do you wonder if they even have a place in content marketing?

Well, I’m in the process of exploring this subject myself.

While I do struggle with the question of when to use personal stories, I am convinced that stories have a more powerful effect on people’s perception of a brand than facts do.

Why personal stories matter

Not too long ago, I came across Steve Job’s Stanford Commencement Address delivered in June 2005. In that speech he tells three painfully, beautiful stories about his life. Read it.

Anyway, he talks about dropping out of college and pursuing the things that were interesting to him:

“Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class… I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.

It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac.

It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”

Stories (such as this one) cut through the noise. They speak to our emotions in a way that hard facts about a product cannot. Stories produce a desirable outcome where manufactured information cannot.

Bringing it Home

I’m not suggesting that every article you write or every presentation you make is inundated with personal narrative. I am saying that at the very least, you should try to weave into your content a human voice. Give people something they can relate to.

Try to incorporate some drama (or tension) into your content, use strong passionate words, interesting allegories and so on. If something is relevant, authentic and helps give direction to the point that you’re making, then by all means go for it!

The important take away is to stay curious. Always be on the look out for good stories. Collect those that are able to deliver your brand message in a powerful way and blend those into your corporate content. Keep in mind that products and processes are erratic, but the desires of the human heart (e.g. connection) never change.

So to the extent that your goal for content marketing is to engage people and create a positive brand perception, stories will always win.

Over to You

What are your thoughts about story telling and corporate content? Have you experimented with it? Please share your experience in the comment box below.


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