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Once Upon a Time: Storytelling Lessons from a Princess

Once upon a time, in a strange kingdom called Florida, there was a beautiful princess puppy named River. The princess had been abandoned in a dark castle by an evil witch who no longer wanted River because the old “preferred cats.”

Locked in a dungeon, River began to wonder if she’d ever have a home again. Until one day, a fierce damsel stormed the castle and rescued the princess. The damsel brought River home and restored her to her throne.

OK, to be clear, I didn’t actually storm the animal shelter and steal my dog. But I like to think that’s how River tells the story in her head. Because how we tell stories matters. Storytelling impacts whether people pay attention to what you have to say and how they connect to you. It’s at the heart of what we, as marketers, do.

But storytelling isn’t always easy. Especially when we’re so focused on metrics, conversion trends, customer acquisition costs, organic search…See you’ve drifted off already. Yes, those things are essential, however, they shouldn’t take away from your brand’s story. That’s why I’ve asked River to help us out with some tips she’s learned from her favorite storytelling genre: princess fairytales. So let me hand the keyboard over to her.

The Details Matter: The Princess and the Pea

Now, this is my type of princess. She gets to lay around on a stack of soft mattresses but is still so in touch with her surroundings she can feel the pea at the bottom of the pile. She pays attention to details. 

Yet, marketers often forget how important details are. Word choice, punctuation, and text formatting matter. Think about the story of The Princess and the Pea: when that tale was first told, the narrator could’ve put any small soft item under the mattresses. It could’ve been a blueberry or an eyeball (hey, those original Grimm tellings were dark), but the alliteration of princess and pea makes the story more memorable.

When crafting content, think about the images you’re calling to mind. Do the words flow? Is there a rhythm? What type of feeling are you creating? All of these factors will lay the foundations for whether your words resonate with readers.

Listen to Your Audience: Sleeping Beauty

Come on Sleeping Beauty, your entire life, people have been warning you to stay away from spindles, and what do you do? You touch one. 

Be better than Sleeping Beauty; listen to what others have to say.

From a marketing perspective, this has two advantages. First, it gives you a clue of what your audience is relating to — and what they aren’t. This will give you fresh ideas for new content that will keep people engaged.

Second, it enriches your story. Thanks to social media, your audience members can engage with your brand’s story and add their own spin to it. Through user-generated content, they take storytelling to the next level.

Don’t Give Up Your Voice: The Little Mermaid

Dumbest. Princess. Ever. Giving up her voice for a man. I do not agree with this as a doggy feminist and as a marketing expert. In branding, your voice is everything. It’s what makes you stand out from the competition and gives your company a personality.

But sometimes, when you’re cranking out content day after day, you fall into a rut. Storytelling becomes formulaic, and that’s when people stop listening.

Find ways to keep your voice authentic and fresh. Try new types of content that force you to rethink how you tell your story. For example, what would an infographic from your brand ‘sound’ like? What about a research report? Exploring different content structures will refocus your storytelling in a way that is true to the brand’s voice.

Welp, that’s all I got for you marketing mavens. Time to give the computer back to my human. Oh, and whatever she tells you, she didn’t “save” me. I rescued her. RIVER OUT!

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About Kristen Klempert

Kristen Klempert is currently a Marketing Analyst at Clever Real Estate and a former Ride the Sail Content Rockstar and Social Media Maven. You can follow Kristen on Twitter or Instagram for her thoughts on the world and photos of her dog, River.