Story Telling

Gavin Hirst - Friday 23rd July 2021

Don’t publish a blog – create a product story instead

How many times have you written a blog about a particular topic and inserted a link to a related product into that post?

Plenty would be our guess.

We’ve been there and done that. Sometimes, we still do that.

The problem with that tactic today is that there are so many other people creating the exact same type of content, that it’s difficult for your product to stand out in a crowd of similar blogs.

We have seen excellent blog posts, with really great engagement metrics, fail to drive a single click to the related product.

That doesn’t mean it was a bad post.

It just means that the audience for the post itself was not at the stage of clicking to find out more about the product.

This just means we have to think about our audience in a different way and create content for different stages of the funnel.

Blog posts are often at the very top of the funnel and are a great way to get your brand discovered. Providing valuable information that is indirectly (or directly) linked to your product is often a great way to get your brand discovered, however, more often than not, it doesn’t mean that people are going to head straight to your product page and make a purchase.

Instead, you are hoping that if they do ever require the products you sell, that the super-engaging piece of content you created will mean that they recall your brand and follow up with a product-related search or a direct visit to your website.

There are other ways to promote your products through your content platform, however.

Learning from Microsoft

The amazing team over at Contently recently published a great post that was the inspiration behind this post. Whilst they focus more on the PR angle rather than blogging, the principle is still the same.

In their article, they talk about a content piece by Microsoft entitled 88 Acres: How Microsoft Quietly Built the City of the Future. The content piece was actually written in 2014 and at the time, the team at Microsoft pitched the article, which is a story about how a group of employees were analysing sensory data to revolutionize the way the company used energy across its 500-acre campus, to a bunch of journalists.

All of them passed.

Instead of filing the story away and writing it off as a failure, the communications team decided to cover the story themselves. Within 48 hours, over 800,000 people had read the article.

So, what makes it such a compelling piece of content and how can you replicate it?

Authenticity is the key

The first thing to note and something we are very aware of is that not every business has a budget like Microsoft to plough into content pieces. We get that.

That doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the method.

There are some things about the story, however, that can’t simply be replicated. This is a story about other people at Microsoft using the company’s products, and it didn’t come across as self-promotional.

You can’t just make that happen – it’s got to be real, and it’s got to come across as authentic.

Hopefully, you have a product or a service that your entire team is proud of. A product or service that they use or would be proud to use. Only then will you be able to showcase authenticity in your post so that’s the starting point right there.

Whilst you might not have a story as rich as 88 Acres, we would be willing to bet that you have staff working for you that love your product and could tell a very good story about how your product benefits them, either in their job or at home.

Your job is to find those people and extract the nuggets that form the basis of a great blog post. One that tells not only of the benefits of the products but of the trials and tribulations along the way.

Not everything has to be sugar-coated in marketing. In fact, most people like it when it isn’t.

Other examples of storytelling in action

The Contently article goes on to cite a few more examples of brands embracing this idea of using their own products to help them to tell a story.

One of our favourites (as it’s one of our favourite tools) is SEMrush. They continually use their own features to analyse their content and include this as part of their own blog.

Salesforce has lots of webinars that showcase how they use their own products.

Contently themselves have recently introduced a new feature whereby when you reach a specific part of their platform, a short tutorial pops up that explains how they themselves use a particular feature for their own marketing efforts.

These are all great stories and a great way of promoting your products by showing rather than telling. People love a story and it’s a much more engaging way of letting people find out more about your products and services.

So, next time you are planning out a blog, maybe take a different approach. Think about how you yourself might use a product or service offered by your company or go and find someone you know is passionate about the products and services and tell a story. Your story.

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