To be clear, he wasn’t pushing frivolous theatrics or stage gimmickry. He was speaking on behalf of what storytellers from Aesop to Shakespeare to Don Hewitt, founder of CBS’ Sixty Minutes, have always known: an audience of any kind or size responds best to a story well told. One that engages them viscerally, through the senses, as well as intellectually.
Not exactly groundbreaking revelations, especially today when so-called “storytellers” abound in marketing circles. But the story-telling exercise he put them through raised their eyebrows. And then their voices. The corner-office types bridled at his thesis insofar as any boardroom pitch was concerned. But Lyons, used to heckling, held his ground. By the time he was finished, he had a rapt audience convinced of the no-nonsense practicality of his storytelling formula: the language of the senses, or LOTS.
We won’t go so far as to say that your next case study should contain more sensuality, but Lyons’ message is nonetheless pertinent to content generators. Web site visitors, fact-gatherers and content consumers are human beings first and foremost, no matter what stage of the purchase decision they happen to be in. To engage them, you must inject into your content any and all elements and anecdotes they can relate to and identify with. Case studies, for example, must present a story of how something was seriously amiss before the arrival and implementation of your offering. The narrative must speak the language of conflict at some level: how the problem was becoming intolerable to people just like the reader. And then how your solution delivered an almost palpable resolution of the issues that had so troubled the struggling customer before you rode to the rescue. This thread must begin at the beginning of the piece and carry through to the summary.
If you prefer something less theatrical, there is always WSWNW, as in the “What, So What and Now What” approach that business tomes have merchandised for many years. But we like the LOTS directive of gripping the content consumer by the senses. It smacks of Hewitt’s memoir, the title of which should be the mantra of all content marketers: Tell Me A Story.