Written for Storylift by Victoria Greene of Victoria Ecommerce. See her bio below.
Fairy tales have been passed down for centuries, surpassing generations and generations of storytellers. Though traditionally read to children, many of our favorite stories carry valuable wisdom and lessons we can apply to all aspects of life.
Usually featuring a central moral lesson, these allegorical stories have survived centuries of retelling because they reflect our experiences and explore them in an engaging way. These stories capture the imagination, all while teaching valuable lessons. This same quality is something we should strive for with our own content marketing.
Though set hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years ago, in this blog I will explore 5 classic fairy tales and what they can teach us about writing spellbinding content.
The Emperor's New Clothes
The classic fable tells the story of a proud emperor who, through his own insolence, is tricked into wearing a ‘lighter than air’ suit, only to find he is in fact naked, with only a young boy able to tell him the awful truth.
This story demonstrates that the king has surrounded himself with yes people, so is unable to see the truth. What this teaches us about content marketing is that we must review, redraft, and react.
Your content is unlikely to be perfect on the first draft — exceptional content takes time and patience to craft. Instead of being too proud (like the emperor), ask your colleagues to review your content, ask for feedback, and work together to create something worthwhile. Then, when you do release what you have created, monitor your user reactions through analytics and adjust accordingly.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
This tale is about a shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking wolves are attacking his flock. But when a wolf actually does appear, the villagers believe that it is merely another false alarm, and the boy is eaten.
What we as content marketers can learn from this grizzly story is this: Honesty is the best policy.
A bad online reputation can be the death of a business in the digital age. With online reviews considered vital information for new buyers, if you are caught not delivering on your promises, your users have the power to badly affect your business.
Instead, be very upfront with policies, services, and what you are able to do for your customers. Then, if anything goes wrong, publicly apologize and accept the blame — don’t try to pull the wool over people’s eyes.
The renowned story of love, dwarfs, and jealousy. Snow White is an ancient tale that has evolved through its retellings, but its central moral explores the effect of narcissism and pride.
When we think of narcissism in terms of content marketing, we must learn that our brand is not the center of the universe; that, in fact: building good relationships with others in your industry is more beneficial than competing or slinging mud.
Consider taking part in thought leadership marketing — a way of sharing innovative ideas with your customers and others in your industry. Thought leadership is disruptive, educational, and benefits many; it draws in your readers and helps to improve your industry community.
For example, let’s say you specialize in informative content for the C-suite. You could create in-depth research studies that can be released to national journalists and specialist industry publications. Similarly, if you’re instead targeting novices and those just starting out, work with the publications your customers read and provide content that answers their key lifestyle concerns.
The Little Mermaid
The story of young mermaid who is willing to give up her life in the sea, and her identity as a mermaid to become human, teaches us to take creative risks. If you want content that engages, you’re going to have to liven up boring content.
Audience research can help guide all of your content marketing decision-making. You can decide, based on evidence, which opportunities are worth striving for, and which sacrifices will harm your brand’s reputation overall. Test and switch headlines, imagery, layout, post lengths and so on, until you strike the right balance.
The Three Little Pigs
The universally told fable about three little pigs who build three houses of different materials only to have them blown down by a big bad wolf is a tale of self-sufficiency and growth.
When it comes to content marketing, you should always be looking for ways to improve and grow as a creator.
To assure your best quality content brings together all of your existing assets and marketing collateral, perform an extensive content audit. Review everything with a fine tooth comb and figure out how you can reimagine, extend, or transform your existing content and turn it into something more useful.
Create long-form articles, video tutorials, and infographics that will stand the test of time. This is known as evergreen content, and when posted far and wide with the right audience targeting, these strong and informative pieces can help drive primed customers to your checkout pages.
Storytelling will be part of humanity for the rest of time — it is simply the format that is changing.
These ancient stories may feature mermaids, witches, and magical cloaks, but their messages are still clear and valuable today.
By following these universal morals and lessons which have been passed down for generations, you too can create a content that speaks to you and your audience for years to come.
Victoria Greene is a branding expert and freelance writer who runs the blog Victoria Ecommerce. In her day job, she helps businesses create strong brand narratives that stand the test of time.