In the very first paragraph of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Caroll writes:
“What is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”
When I first read that as a kid, I nodded in agreement. But it’s not just when writing stories for children that you need to think about pictures and conversations. Alice in Wonderland isn’t exactly a marketing textbook, but this is great advice for marketers!
Lesson 1: Images Are Important
The “pictures” part is easy. No one would deny that visuals are important in marketing: otherwise, we wouldn’t have had graphic design, web design or, for that matter, TV ads and YouTube videos.
Even in a text-heavy form like a blog post or an e-book, images serve an important function. They catch the eye and draw the reader in. They break up the monotony of text. They also appeal to a more visual reader, who might otherwise skip the content altogether.
And since they draw the eye, you can place images next to important sections of text, to encourage the viewer to read.
Images also help you to take advantage of social media in more ways. On Facebook, a photo is likely to draw more attention and drive more engagement than a text post. You can pin your images on Pinterest and get a whole new audience for your post, or put them up on Flickr, or create a slideshow and put it up on Slideshare.
Lesson 2: Use Examples, Tell Stories
What about conversations? In marketing, conversations are case studies or examples. It can be a transcript of a conversation you had with your customer. It can be a quote by a blogger, or something you heard at an event. It can just be an example of a specific way you used, or your reader can use, a piece of advice.
As marketers and bloggers, one thing we learn to do is write and talk in abstractions, in general terms. “You should write about what interests your audience,” I can say. Or I can give examples of how customers of organic brown rice might be interested in healthy eating, environmental-friendly living, or brown rice recipes.
Examples drive the point home, but also: they are more interesting than generic advice. Examples are the story. Who wants to hear a moral without a story?
Lesson 3: Start A Conversation, Interview Someone
Yet the most literal form of a conversation, for marketing content, is an interview. This is also extremely easy to pull off — all you need is someone interesting to interview on a topic your target audience is interested in. (For a marketing blog, that might be a reputed marketing expert.) And of course, a list of questions.
Interviews also lend themselves well to many forms of content. You can have a live video interview for a webcast, publish it on YouTube, use the transcript as a blog post, use quotes for Twitter and Facebook. This gives you so many ways to reach your audience using the same content.
So you have
ease of creation x reach
making interviews one type of content you should try out.
Interviews put some of the burden of content creation on the interviewee. You don’t have to come up with witty quotes — your interviewee does. But you need to make sure you’re asking the right questions, that you’re giving them a platform to be smart and funny and informative, to connect with your audience.
You need to help them craft a story.
Because that’s what content marketing is: telling stories. Which is why you need pictures and conversations, to keep your audience from getting bored and finding a different rabbit-hole to go down into.
So how well are you using pictures and conversations in the story of your brand?
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