What Eudora Welty Taught Me About Content Marketing

Nov 2013

Welcome to the Content Creator’s Toolbox, our series dedicated to helping all creators of all types of content keep those creative juices flowing. If you have a creativity question or challenge you’d like us to address in a future post, drop us a line!

I confess, I can be a little short-sighted sometimes. If I want to improve my writing, I tend to reach for a book on writing, without even considering the wealth of outstanding examples that I could be  reading purely for inspiration. And much of that inspiration can be found flowing from the pens of our colleagues just across the aisle from us at the local Barnes and Noble: the fiction writers.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a huge surge of interest in storytelling across the marketing community, and who is better at storytelling than, well, professional, published storytellers?

KAHDkjsf To illustrate this point, let me draw a few examples from one of my favorite short stories: Eudora Welty’s “Why I Live at the P.O.” It’s a quick read, so if you’re so inclined,go check it out. It’s okay — I’ll wait.

Oh, hey, you’re back already? Cool.

I dearly love this story for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that my own, um, “unique” family looks almost normal compared to the parade of characters we meet in Welty’s tale. But it also offers a wealth of hidden gems that we content marketers can stash away in our own trusty toolboxes.

1. Offer a Compelling Title

Spoiler Alert: The “P.O.” in the title stands for “post office.” Okay, it’s not much of a spoiler, since we find out that our heroine is a postmistress — at “the next to smallest P.O. in the state of Mississippi” — after just a few paragraphs. But then the real hook takes over — “Why on earth would anyone live at a post office?” — and keeps us reading until the very end.

Content Creator’s Takeaway: Sure, it’s good to convey in your titles exactly what the reader is getting … but mix it up now and then with an element of mystery. (Tweet this)

Example from this blog: Why I’m Taking Facebook and Twitter Off My Business Cards

2. Use Dialogue — and Dialect — to Develop Characters

Ever find yourself reading a long narrative passage in a short story or novel and find yourself relieved when the author returns to dialogue?

Dialogue not only interjects a human element into a story — it also quickens the pace to keep us engaged. Welty’s tale is mostly driven by dialogue, lovingly crafted with an unmistakable mid-20th-century Southern flavor.

She never has to tell us, for example, that the heroine’s younger sister is a narcissistic prima donna — she lets us hear it with lines like this:

“Never mind, you won’t be found dead in it, because it happens to be part of my trousseau, and Mr. Whitaker took several dozen photographs of me in it […] What on earth could Uncle Rondo mean by wearing part of my trousseau out in the broad open daylight without saying so much as ‘Kiss my foot,’ knowing I only got home this morning after my separation and hung my negligee up on the bathroom door, just as nervous as I could be?”

Content Creator’s Takeaway: Add life to your content by finding opportunities to replace narrative description with rich, character-building dialogue. (Tweet this)

Example from this blog: Content Creators, Embrace Your Inner Tim Gunn

3. Play With Format to Create Context

“So Papa-Daddy l-a-y-s down his knife and fork!”

“Stella-Rondo just calmly takes off this hat, I wish you could see it.”

There’s laying down a knife and fork, and then there’s l-a-y-i-n-g down a knife and fork. There are hats, and then there are hats.

Welty is a master at using these subtle tweaks to infuse even the simplest objects and actions with tremendous meaning — meaning we each define for ourselves.

Content Creator’s Takeaway: Play around with spelling, punctuation, spacing, and formatting to give flavor to important content elements. (Tweet this)

Example from this blog: What a Can of Red Bull Taught Me About Content Marketing

Okay, campers, your turn: What inspirations do you take from fictional books, stories, movies, plays, and how have they amped up your content creation mojo?

Win a Copy of Gary Vaynerchuk’s Latest

szlfkelTWe’re giving away 20 copies of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, the latest publication from social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk.

Check out our podcast interview with Gary and enter to win your own copy of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook!


About the Author

Rachel has answerA self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).

As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations. Contact Rachel about speaking to your group or business.

Socialmediatoday.com Member BizSugar KredFeatured Author on Business 2 Community

See you again next week!

Our Clients Are Saying

  • Increased website traffic, New Lead Generation

    We were experiencing a lack of internal resources to consistently maintain the Ustream blog. So we turned to Resonance Content Marketing to write blog posts on current industry topics while maintaining a consistent tone with the brand. The result is increased website traffic, new lead generation from gated assets on blog, and better educated/qualified leads. And I now have more time to spend on marketing strategy with the confidence that the content we push out is extremely well written and engaging.

    Rachel is an amazing writer and has really managed to create engaging and relevant blog material on topics that aren’t always super interesting. On many occasions, she has been able to quickly turn around one-off requests and the results are always top-notch. She has also helped guide our content strategy based on her expertise in content marketing, which has been a huge asset to our team.

  • One of the best “vendor” relationships I’ve ever had.

    My company had little or no time to spend on social media. Our needs were to ensure a steady stream of posts across three platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) by harvesting and re-purposing content from our own site and news streams. So I contacted Rachel Parker of Resonance Content Marketing.

    The result was two-fold. Not only did our ranks of followers grew steadily, the steady drip, drip, drip of content helped us train our personnel and direct their own individual social media efforts.

    Rachel and her team are extremely organized and open to discussion and new ideas. They deliver a rapid response to new opportunities — and an overall feeling of being on the same team. One of the best “vendor” relationships I’ve ever had.

  • Event Sold Out Two Years In A Row!

    Rachel worked with me on creating a content marketing calendar and content for the Big Social Media Summit (Big SMS) three years in a row. She is very organized and knows just the right amount of posts on social, email newsletters and content to send.  Her content marketing efforts helping us sell out our event three years in a row!  I am expecting the same for October 2014.

    Rachel was hired to write content for our email newsletter and content for our social platforms. In addition, she had a budget to do advertising on social media. She participated in the event live and after the fact to assure buzz was created before, during and after the event. As a result, our event sold out.

    When I work with Rachel, I have total peace of mind.  I know that she is on target, on time, reliable and delivers over and above the results I expect.

    I trust Rachel totally with her ideas on strategy, marketing and the content used to not only promote our events, but also post on my behalf on social networks. I have been doing social media for 8 years, and I hire Resonance to post on some of my social sites as it saves me time, and keeps my social sites relevant and current. They always post great, engaging content that gets my social properties likes, comments and shares.


  • Professionalism and Sincere Desire to Help

    I just didn’t seem to be able to find the time or the right words to explain what I offer and how my company helps people accomplish their goals. Rachel was able to ask me some questions, do some research and capture my voice while writing my website copy exactly as I needed it to be written.  Now, the copy on my website is much more professional than what I would have created and having this task handled by Rachel and Resonance freed up my time to complete other tasks I am better suited to do.

    It was a joy to work with Rachel. Her professionalism and sincere desire to help was apparent from the first communication until the final delivery. I will definitely use Resonance again and highly recommend their services.

  • Increased our likes and interaction rates

    Working with Rachel was a delight. Not only does she communicate very well, but she provided valuable insight about our social media platforms and followers. We have much better engagement with our fans and followers, which increased our likes and interaction rates.


  • Added 5 figures to my business in less than 4 weeks

    Rachel took the overwhelm and stress out of writing content for my marketing campaign! When I approached Rachel, I was really concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to focus on writing copy for a lengthy marketing campaign that included sales pages, solo emails, newsletters and social media updates. Well, let’s just say I’m glad I hired Rachel because I couldn’t have done it without her support and expertise. I loved how she used my voice and words to craft content that helped me reach and attract my ideal client. As a result of working with Rachel, I added 5 figures to my business in less than 4 weeks, hundreds of new social media followers and exceeded my sales and list building goals! You know your marketing copy is working when you hear someone say, “I see you everywhere”. Thank you Rachel for helping me not only get seen by my ideal clients but get paid!

  • Produced ROI Result

    Form.io needed someone who could grasp the complexities of our product, capture the subtlety of our differentiating value propositions, and convey them in the right voice for an exacting customer audience…. Resonance delivered, by crafting a multi-faceted online content marketing strategy that drove traffic and conversion, producing the ROI result we were looking for….

  • Social Media Ranking Better Than Ever!

    We are so happy to have hired Resonance for our social media needs. We spend most of our time serving our clients and studying our field so we can provide the highest quality possible. We no longer worry about our social media, as we have total confidence in the wonderful work Rachel and her team have accomplished.

    Our social media is active, promoted, and is ranking better than ever! People often comment about what they see on our Facebook page. Resonance has added a creative, and artistic twist to our social media that is appealing and captivating to our audience. This has allowed me more time to work with my team and clients, so I can focus on service towards the people that help our business grow.

    I know there will be wonderful content on Facebook, and that Rachel will answer to posts, comments and questions as soon as a comment arrives. I am often impressed at how quickly she responds! Thank you Resonance! I highly endorse Resonance and encourage companies who need social media strategies to work with Resonance! You won’t regret it! 

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