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Are You Smarter than a Fourth Grader? Then You Can Create Captivating Content

November 24, 2015 - Marketing - ,
By: Yolanda Fintschenko

Technology providers often give up when faced with creating captivating content for their customers. They rely on technical jargon and leave their content hanging out in the wind, hoping the reader is bored enough, interested enough, or nerdy enough to find a reason to read it.

Leave that much to chance and little is gained.

I coach marketing skills (such as content creation) as part of my business, but some of my most applicable content creation coaching experience comes from coaching youth track and field.

Why? After every race, I ask each athlete the same question “How was your race?”

And here is the crazy thing — every race has a story. No child is too young, no race too short.

“There was a false start! I was afraid it was me, but it was another kid.” (sigh of relief)

“When the gun went off again, my start was bad. The first start – I was ahead of everyone.  I thought I might come in top three, maybe even win! The second start left me behind everyone. So I pumped my arms and dug. I was afraid I would run out of energy, but at the end I really kicked it in, I passed a whole bunch of kids, and I remembered to dip. I finished in the top three! It was my best race this season! ”

What was the race? The one hundred meter dash. Not much time. It should be run in fifteen-seconds or less for a fourth grade athlete to place in the top three and qualify for the next track meet.

If a fourth grader can create a compelling story about a fifteen-second race, then it’s easy to believe that you can create a captivating tale about anything, including your technology.

Why am I so confident without even knowing you, your product or service?

Because the story isn’t about you, your technology, your product or your service, any more than a child’s race story is about running.   It’s about enthusiasm, emotion, action and drama. You have it all — the anticipation, the fear of failure, obstacles, the need to overcome, finding hope, using a tool or strategy  to achieve a goal, and (finally) the triumph of the finish.

Tech products and services are no different. Emotion interweaves any human endeavor — even if your customer is highly technical. Ask your customers about their race. When creating content, nail down their narrative — their fears, their obstacles, their hope, their triumph.   Use their voice, not yours. Include the relevant technical details if they matter to your customer, but include those details in service to your customers’ experiences. Use the ensuing story to reveal how your product or service can save your customers’ race.

Find the anticipation, obstacles, and fears in your customers’ narratives.  Describe your product as the tool, technique, or strategy that gives them hope, tenacity, skillful implementation, and ultimately…success.

Still not sure you have what it takes?  I like the material from Nujira, an envelope-tracking power supply integrated circuit chip provider, as a real-world example of effective technical storytelling. CopyBlogger offers advice from writers in  “The Writer Files” .

Captivating content — created.

About Yolanda

Yolanda is a scientist, writer, marketer, coach and avid runner who lives and works in Livermore, CA.  She founded Common SciSense, a marketing company for technical products, and co-founded founderTRACTION, lean marketing services for startups.


Yolanda is a scientist, writer, marketer, coach and avid runner who lives and works in Livermore, CA.  She founded Common SciSense, a marketing company for technical products, and co-founded founderTRACTION, lean marketing services for startups. 

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