Everybody loves a good story.

From primitive cave people, to first century scholars, to Renaissance thinkers, to modern day entertainers — much of our past is known today thanks to the story.

That got me thinking. If everybody loves a story so much, how can we do a better job using the story to sell more newspapers?

Content marketing — or modern day storytelling — has come of age. Why? It simply is effective.

Businesses have known for longer than the Internet has been around that no form of advertising is more powerful than the testimonial. A happy customer singing the praises of great service, a good deal, or just a straight-up great buying experience is a great way to sell your stuff.

Buyers demand great content. Put another way, content is king of the Internet.

A recent Act-On survey revealed why content marketing is so powerful. Of all buyers, 71% trust brands that provide relevant content without trying to sell something. In fact, buyers do their research. An startling 70% of consumers read four or more pieces of content before making a purchase decision.

Purchasers have always been in the driver’s seat. That isn’t changing anytime soon. But consumers are doing more things online that they once did offline.

When researching, 78% use the Internet to “shop” before they buy. Eighty-seven percent use a search engine to get them started. And now, for the first time ever, mobile search has surpassed desktop search, fueling an exponential growth in search for Google and others. Between 2009 and 2012, search has grown 50% per year. Impressive.

What is all that search doing for us? It connects us to the content we want and need!

Does Google love content? You bet. Google is the No. 1 search engine on the planet. Who is No. 2, you might ask? That’s YouTube. By the way, Google owns YouTube. Get the picture? Google loves content.

If you’re still not convinced that content is a powerful marketing tool, consider this: Content is the currency of the Internet. The opportunity to publish content and tell a story gives local businesses the upper hand.

We are in the storytelling business. Let’s not forget to tell our own stories. Here are six reasons to consider leveraging content to make more sales.

  1. To improve search engine rankings. The more content you produce, the more likely you will be found by your prospects when they are researching your industry online.

    As long as you have a content marketing strategy in place, optimising for specific long-tail keywords, you should see a significant increase in search engines rankings. Connecting your newspaper to more prospects results in more revenue.

  2. To wield the best sales tool. A blog works for you 24/7/365. It never calls in sick or takes a vacation. It also never flirts with the lady in accounting. Sell, sell, sell.

  3. To share your expertise. A blog is an excellent platform to showcase your knowledge, expertise, and connection to the local community. Use content to position your competitors. Do it to your advantage before they do it to you. 

    With competition on the run, display your newspaper’s unique advantage and benefits, as well as how you’re connected to your community. People do business with people they know and trust.

  4. To answer questions. A blog is an excellent place to answer any/all questions you’ve received in the past from readers. Add credibility to your content. Give yourself a voice, a powerful strategy in storytelling.

  5. To increase revenue. The more content you produce and promote, the more Web site visitors you’ll attract. More visitors results in more leads, and more leads typically equals more revenue. Google isn’t the only one profiting from the Web. Soon you will, too.

  6. To achieve mass exposure. Your content is available for sharing, e-mailing, posting, and pinning. When members of your audience share your content with their like-minded followers, you open up another audience.

    Call it “audience cloning.” Almost like magic, your followers include your content in their friends’ newsfeeds.  

Content comes in all shapes, sizes, and flavours: Web and mobile content, blogs, business listings, search engine optimisation, social media content, and video. That’s a lot of content. Chances are you’re using many of these already.

But creating content can take a lot of planning, writing, and execution. When done properly, more buyers, and prospective customers access your content online. When you’re generating great leads and online orders, your digital marketing becomes less expensive — and a lot more fun.

Every story should have a happy ending. Here is yours: Put the power of the Internet and the strength of content marketing to work for your newspaper. Get found and stay connected. Watch your business grow. With great content and great stories, your audience is waiting to ride off with you into the sunset.