Does all content marketing have to be nonfiction? These days it feels like we’re being bombarded by facts and lessons and truths. It can be overwhelming. This is why we binge-watch. We turn on our television, open a streaming app, and fall into another world — with other problems and different people.
We want to know what happens in the next season of Yellowstone. We’re upset at the ending of Game of Thrones. We become angry at a character’s decisions in the last episode of the show. Why?
Because stories draw us in.
Characters become our friends.
But these stories aren’t true. Well, the storyline is true enough that we can relate to their human experience. The characters aren’t depicting real people, but they are very real.
As people, we love stories.
But Aren’t We Supposed to Tell True Stories?
Of course, we’re supposed to tell true stories. But we can also create a specific hypothetical. This is especially important if your content marketing involves minors or people whose identities should be protected. But it can also be fun. Like, with Fat Dog Creatives — her mascot is Kirby. Kirby can tell you a whole story. It may not be accurate in the historical sense, but it is a storyline all executives relate to.
“Think along the lines of a CSI episode. The question is posed, you pick up all the information you need to answer it, and then you answer it. This is why mysteries lend themselves so well to suspense, despite most of them lacking action or peril.” Convince and Convert
As long as you are not making up case studies or telling false or misleading information about your product, you’re fine. Even the old Dick and Jane stories can be used as a contest to provide a logo.
Marketing is Truth — So Are Stories
Of course, we want truth in our marketing. But every story can be created or embellished to bring intrigue, mystery, and to tap into empathy. Regardless of how data-driven we want to be, we all love a good story. So the truth is in the truism of the story; not that it’s actually true.
“Marketing is about empathy and storytelling, and great stories are proven to make us more empathetic & creative.” Joe Lazauskas
Fiction in Content Marketing — An Example
Fiction is a fantastic form of content marketing. A little bit of fun mixed with travel tips isn’t a bad idea, either. Here’s an excerpt from Senior Life FYI’s series “Off the Beaten Path” that features the love story of Bella and Wayne. (And the storyline isn’t a bad internal linking strategy either.)
Wayne and Bella laugh, while Francine reaches over to wipe ketchup from Marv’s chin. He wrestles away like a child from his mother, making the two laugh even harder. “Well, I have to say, it’s great you decided to join us again.” Bella raises her glass, followed by Wayne. “It’s so much more fun with you two than a busload of people we don’t know.” Francine takes up her glass and clinks it against Bella’s.
“What was your favorite city so far Marv? Berlin, Paris, London, Minsk, or how about our trip to Tuscany? So warm and beautiful. And the wine! I could have stayed there forever.” Wayne sits back and dreamily remembers the warm afternoons spent in Florence and Siena.
“I loved them all. But I have to say, I prefer beer to wine, and the beer here is to die for.” Marv smiles and takes a big mouthful of Svijany pilsner.
“Save some space – we’re going up to the monastery later.” Wayne winks and Marv nods appreciatively.
The monastery? What? Yep. You have to read the story to find out what kind of shenanigans these two get into. They began ditching the tour bus in Paris and somewhere along the way convinced Francine and Marv to join them. Will they join Bella and Wayne on their River Cruise? I don’t know. You have to read it to find out.
See what I did there?
Will You Use Fiction in Your Content Marketing?
Sure, content marketing can be the happy marriage between nonfiction and journalism. But don’t forget the creativity. If your brand created personas for your buyer profiles, give them names and storylines. We will want to know what they do next — and which product to buy.