Should I write a how, what or why blog post?

By Kath Walters

There are a million how-to stories on the internet. That is fine, but they only address a small segment of the audience – they address the “doers” – the people at the frontline getting the job done.

What about the managers? What about the leaders? Do they read how-to stories? No, they don’t.

Let me explain.

First let’s think about the three broad story types: how, what and why stories. You’ll be familiar with them all. Here are three simple examples:

– How to write a story.

– What is content marketing?

– Why content marketing is transforming the business-to-business sales relationship.

In my experience, each story type matches a different audience type.

Leaders read stories about why

Because leaders are strategic decision makers, they read “why” stories. They read stories about why content marketing is transforming the nature of sales and marketing, why content marketing is more effective than traditional marketing, and why it costs less.  

They read why stories and they use them to make a strategic decision. So they turn and say to their managers: we need to implement content marketing.

Managers are the process decision makers

They read “what” stories. When their leader says start a content marketing program, they read stories like: “What is content marketing? What are the components of a good content marketing strategy? What kinds of stories work and what kinds don’t. What are the pros and cons of outsourcing to a content marketing agency?

Once they have decided what they are doing and what process they need to use, they turn to their teams and say: start doing.

Doers are the people at the front line

They are the writers and editors in the case of content marketing. They get stuff done. They find out how to write a compelling story and headline, how to write for an audience, how to market without selling, how to write a LinkedIn profile.

We are all leaders, managers and doers

I don’t want to oversimplify the idea of these different roles.

All of us circulate through these roles in any one day. None of us stays strictly within these bounds. I am talking about the broad categories of how our days are spent. For most of us, we spend the majority of our days deciding strategy, managing teams, or getting stuff done.

There is some overlap between the three categories of story, too: always a bit of why in a how or what story and so on.

Who is your market?

There is no point writing how-to stories if your market is leaders. Understand the broad categories of story and how they apply to different audiences, and your content marketing will be much more effective.