The Content Paradox: Depth vs Brevity / Dragon vs Grasshopper

As we each battle with our information overload dragons, we face a paradox. While we fight the dragon, we are like the grasshopper. You know the grasshopper – the inquisitive young priest who sought true understanding to complex problems. His teacher, “Master Po” providing first simple analogies as answers, then as the boy understands more – come more complex answers. Content marketing can learn from Master Po.

The Web as our “Master Po.” It has a simple answer to everything.  But as we seek deeper understanding – beyond the highest rated stereo or the best route to take, when we ask “Who is the best consulting partner?” or “What is the most appropriate software product to buy?” Master Po has that answer too.

What does Master Po do when the grasshopper seeks deeper understanding? He shares stories.

We are the grasshopper.  Stories work. First a small fable that may be shared in a single phrase  … “If a man dwells on the past, then he robs the present. But if a man ignores the past, he may rob the future.”  Short, true, but challenging to apply in the real world. So as his student asks more in depth questions, Master Po offers a story. One that delivers context, narrative, and deep meaning – in a simple package. The story is what allows the master to go beyond brevity to meaning – without losing context or interest.

Today it is no different. When we go to the web, we first seek quick simple answers. But with more complex questions we need stories. Stories that provide not only context and meaning but also allow us (the student) to understand, change context and still be confident in the answer. A recent survey by Optify spells this out wonderfully. Click here for summary and link to the full survey, it’s really good. The key stat: The #1 most important element in B2B content is effective and compelling storytelling.

How can you be Master Po? Tell a story. It does not need to have your product or service in it. It just needs to share the truth. Your audience/students will be smart enough to make the leap from the truth of your story, to the truth for them, and to the value of your offering. Trust them.

Tim Keelan is the founder of StoryQuest, a B2B agency that enables company and customer stories for demand generation, customer references, and thought leadership. You can find Tim on Twitter and LinkedIn. Download Free Visual Whitepaper: 10 Ways to Create and Enable Compelling B2B Content.
  • Lou Hoffman

    Great post Tim.
    Ironically, we were just talking about Master Po internally.
    It is a conundrum.
    People tend to gravitate toward instant gratification when deeper connections and understanding (and stories) take time.
    This topic has been on my radar because we’re preparing to present to a big consumer brand which depends on before/after advertising.
    Our approach takes the position that you’ve got to show the customer’s journey — the challenges, turmoil, the pestilence — between the start and the finish to cultivate compelling storytelling.
    We’ll see.