Seth Godin says all marketers are liars (affiliate link). Well, that’s a little harsh. But true.
I fully admit, much of what I write is fiction. Fact. I actually do write fiction.
But I do it in more ways than one.
For instance, when I sit down to write a short story and send it to a publisher for consideration, that’s fiction. No one could dispute that. But what about when I write a blog post for a client? In a certain sense, that’s fiction too.
Hear me out on this. It’s not that I’m a liar. I’m not being unethical or doing anything underhanded. But I might employ a few pretensions as I write the blog post.
Actors, Novelists, And Bloggers Have This One Thing In Common
Let’s say I’m writing a blog post about office cleaning services, which I’ve done. I don’t clean offices for a living. In fact, I’ve never cleaned offices for a living. I’ve never even cleaned an office, except my own. So what could I possibly know about cleaning offices? Well, nothing – except for what I can glean from the client about his services and what I can gather from research. Once I understand the process of cleaning offices and the tools of the job, then I can pretend to be an office cleaner.
This is the same sort of pretension that an actor engages in when playing an office cleaner on the silver screen or that a novelist engages in when writing about an office cleaner in a story they are writing.
Kevin Costner once played a postman (doh! another affiliate link; don’t you hate those?) in a movie by that name. To my knowledge, Kevin Costner has never been a postman. Yet he played one in a movie. I wonder if he did any research about postmen before taking on that roll?
Novelists often conduct a fair amount of research before and during the writing of their stories. I have a friend who writes historical military fiction. He does a lot of research on the battles and events of the time periods he writes about before he completes the writing process. He is a retired military officer, so he has a leg up on a lot of writers who don’t have direct experience in the matters about which they write, but I’m fairly confident he was never involved in the Crimean War (doggone it, another one!).
So here’s the question I know you’re asking right now: To what extent do bloggers write fiction?
That’s a good question. I’m sure the answer depends on the blogger. For me, quite a bit. You see, the first thing I have to do is research. If you hire me to write about retailing, in order to do that material justice, I have to know what I’m talking about. To feel confident that I will write about retailing with a reasonable level of expertise, I have to do some research. I have to learn about retailing – retailing in general and the specific type of retail business that you operate.
Now, I’ve done retailing. I’ve been a retail store manager. But I’m not an expert on retailing. I couldn’t tell you everything there is to know. So I will often use my own experience in blogging, however, I back up that experience with a good deal of research.
After I do my research, I have to then write about a topic from the point of view of someone who is an expert in it. In many cases, I’m pretending to be you. And that’s a fiction. Because you and I both know that I’m NOT you.
Content Marketers Are Storytellers
The best marketers understand that marketing is a form of storytelling. Your company has a story. Your CEO has a story. Your sales force has a story. There are ups and downs in your story, challenges, obstacles, victories and setbacks, triumphs that illustrate the grit your team has shown in overcoming your obstacles. Those are things your clients and prospects want to know about. Why? Because they want to do business with real people, not impersonal entities.
The marketing of the future is much more personal than the marketing of the past. We live in a post-Corporate world. You may be CEO of a multi-national corporation, but real people still want to do business with real people.
Isn’t it time you ditch the impersonal content of the past and get real with your audience? Toss out the bland particle board of dry, boring content and tell your story. Add a little color to your prose and interesting characters to your story. Hire a fiction writer to craft your content, because in the end it’s all fiction anyway. You may as well hire someone who knows how to write it.
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