Whether you’re a spiritual teacher or the marketing director at a faith-based organization, marketing ideas are not limited to marketing manuals.
Take a fresh look at your favorite novels or collections of short stories.
Reading or writing fiction can expand your view of major marketing components, including:
- Personas (characters, in fiction).
- Customer journeys (plots).
- FAQ/Q&A (dialogue).
A few years ago, storytelling evolved into such a popular marketing concept that “storyteller” became a job title. Since this is an article, not a book, let’s cut to the end of this tale.
Online marketing doesn’t start with a story. It starts with a conversation.
Visitors have questions, whether they’ve landed on your website, checked out your social media property or pulled into your parking lot. Anticipate and answer those questions, and you might get the chance to share your stories, including your briefest, shiniest explanation of who you are, what you do and why.
But first, you’ve probably created personas or avatars to represent groups of similar people within your target market and illustrated their expectations. If you want to warm up your descriptions of personas – to make them seem more alive and “real” – let fiction-writing techniques inspire you.
The biggest fiction-writing technique is simple: imagination, informed by observation.
Characters may be composites of people an author knows well or just met, and you can assign each persona a rich and challenged life beyond their interactions with your business. People carry their experiences, personalities and “baggage” to your website or other online properties. Some of those personalities are more or less patient than others, and their jobs and other responsibilities affect motivations and needs. Even if you don’t document all of these details for your personas, activating your imagination can help you advocate for them in meetings and design a customer experience based on emotion and not just workflow.
One emotion pushes a plot forward: desire.
In fiction, desire means wanting or needing something, often desperately, in a path scattered with obstacles and perhaps a villain or two. (Some characters want to get away from a situation; that’s also desire.) When mapping your “customer journey,” you’ll anticipate questions that come up at various intervals as people interact with you or your website. They are searching for a taste of what you provide. How can you help them? How can you make their journey easier, even if you are not their final destination or choice? Look beyond “user experience” maps and workflows. How does it “feel” to be a visitor? Can someone have a no-risk taste of your sermons, such as following a link to your YouTube channel?
In fiction, dialogue isn’t true conversation. That’s why it works.
Characters in a book or a movie are direct, and every word matters. Characters know how to “talk with a purpose.” Attack your drafts, delete extra words and divide remaining content into chunks, easy to find and digest. Shorter is often stronger, and so I’ll stop here.
Candace Schilling offers PR Communication and Training to spiritual teachers and faith-based communities. For more inspiration as well as tips about marketing and strategic communication, check out her articles or find Candace on LinkedIn.