How to tell (and sell) your story to command attention

It’s an artform to start with data before honing in on the right story ideas, for the right audience, at the right time in their journey. Learn how a world-class journo does it.

American author Sue Grafton once said, “Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”


Basically, anyone can have an idea. But transforming that idea into an engaging, impactful, measurable piece of content that’s going to help you build both brand awareness and your sales funnel… Well, that’s a little trickier.


At BEX Lab we apply our secret sauce to every ideation project we do. That is, pairing data with a kick-ass journalist who has honed their ideation skills over years of practice, and can turn an idea into a consumer-led, content-marketing dream.


While using data to create better content is just one of our proven approaches, there’s a skill-set to the ideation phase that deserves closer attention.


One of BEX Lab’s journalists extraordinaire, Tracy McBeth, has honed her ideating skills for almost 10 years.


She’s already written the playbook on how to write like a journalist. This time, she shares the secret to consumerising ideas that ultimately command audience attention.

1. Find your source

Story ideas are everywhere, and every one of us is a storyteller in our day-to-day life. But where do you start?


Data and search information is the best way to determine exactly who your audience is, what they’re looking for and how you can help them.


Instead of wasting time searching for ideas on what you hope your audience wants, it allows you to ideate content that’s specifically tailored to a consumer need or opportunity.

But while data can inform ideation, and give you parameters to work within, the content must be brought to life with a consumer lens on.

One of the best signs that you’re onto a great yarn is that it’s interesting enough to share with a friend or retell at a dinner party. If something sticks with you, chances are it’s a good story.


Story ideas can come from conversations with friends, family, colleagues or customers. They might be based on research or data, customer insights, feedback or an inspiring speech.


An idea might stem from an overheard conversation, your own personal experience or a personal passion or interest.


Another die-hard source is timing. Aside from the well-known holidays of Christmas Day or Good Friday, there’s now a special day for just about everything, thanks to some clever marketing. Case in point: April 25 is Zucchini Bread Day. Seriously. Calendars of significant days can be a useful starting point for ideation.

Cracked eggshells with stick numbers drawn inside and chick footprints
Meld data and sophisticated ideation to accelerate your content marketing journey

2. Think like your audience

While intent data must inform the purpose of the content, it’s the art of ‘consumerising’ that journos do instinctively. They put the audience first and share stories in a way that resonates with everyday people.

There’s one question that echoes around newsrooms every day, and that’s: Why would Mary from Melton or Bob from Broadmeadows care?


You need to put yourself in your audiences’ shoes, know their situation, needs, pain points and interests.
Consider how you might not only pique their interest but also add value to their lives through content.


If readers see themselves in the content, they will organically engage with it on a much deeper level.

3. Use news values

The secret to sourcing great stories is to understand the essential ingredients of storytelling.


The media industry relies on news values to determine what makes the cut.

HCF website article featuring Growing up as a child of an alcoholic
This powerful personal story by HCF is eloquent, emotional, data-led and strategic.

4. Show humanity by sharing personal stories

Never underestimate the power of a personal story and a real voice.


Just look at the way Australians come together after a natural disaster or rally around a family who has been affected by grief or tragedy. Hearing real people’s stories affects us in visceral way. It taps into something deep inside, and propels us into action.

People don’t connect with programs, initiatives or internal buzz – they connect with other people. With every idea, ask yourself, is there a personal story or case study that can put a human face to it?
It doesn’t matter how impressive the research, or how much work has gone into a program, if you can’t demonstrate how it impacts everyday people, in a meaningful way, the true value is lost.

5. Turn business stories into consumer stories

Brands are always excited to share business stories and successes. But transforming them into consumer stories will make them more impactful than simple facts and figures.


If a brand has released a new report or a new program, try finding a consumer who can share their story on what it means to them and others.

While key messages are crucial to the business, they’re often meaningless to the everyday consumer. Lead with heart and make your audience care.
LinkedIn Post of Rose Kerlin entitled The future I want for my children and everyone else
Rose provides a masterclass in how to tell a business story in a way that resonates with consumers

6. Be clear on the content’s purpose and next step

While both brands and newsrooms are vying for audience attention, the very distinct difference is that brands aren’t simply sharing a good yarn to engage and inform readers.


Underneath a genuine desire to provide engaging and valuable content is a brand’s ambition to build its audience and reputation, and ultimately drive commercial outcomes.

A scattergun approach is one strategy, but it’s not a very good one. Any corporate doing content needs a clear strategy and a data-led approach from the outset.
Be clear on the purpose of every piece of content you’re creating, and ensure its tailored to customers at every stage of their journey.
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