…we knew you would be.
You’ve seen the content, viewed the videos and witnessed the power of storytelling content.
And now you want to learn more!
You’re going to. This lesson will shift your TRAFFIC GENERATION into top gear.
And if you can tie it in with your CHARACTER (from Storytelling for Marketers: LESSON 1), the story features we’ve got coming up, and the how to place your stories lesson, you’re going to hit heights you never knew possible.
But first, let’s do a quick review of Lesson 1.
You’ll remember that every content story we create should be RELATABLE, RELATIONSHIP BUILDING and ENGAGING/EMOTIONAL for your audience.
By now, you should also have a handful of protagonists for your content stories. If not, get over there now.
These Storytelling for Marketers Blogs were written in order for a reason. You’ll only truly be able to understand Part 2, if you’ve digested Part 1.
We’ve narrowed our audience to the committed content marketers?
Let’s get this lesson rolling.
Storytelling for Marketers: Lesson 2
You’ve got a character. SWEET! Now, you’ll need to put them into a story.
Short on ideas?
Not for much longer.
Every story that was ever written, from To Kill A Mockingbird to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Harry Potter to The Exorcist, The Teletubbies to Romeo and Juliet, have used one (or a combination) of just 7 PLOTS.
BTW: A plot is basically your storyline (the stuff that happens).
…we can use them!
And better than that…
We can create TEMPLATES with them.
Strap yourself in. Here comes the AH-HA.
Storytelling for Marketers: The 7 Plots (and how to use them!)
Overcoming the Monster
Ever seen Star Wars? James Bond? Dracula? Beowolf? David and Goliath?
These are all examples of Overcoming the Monster plot lines.
This plot line begins with a great evil force THREATENING the existence of your protagonist (or something they care greatly about).
The protagonist must battle against this monster in order to reach their HAPPY ENDING.
Applying this to your content marketing strategy is EASY. Think of the greatest problem affecting your target market, open the content story with it destroying their life, and show their fight to overcome it.
Imagine we’re selling a diet yoghurt. Our protagonist would be our TARGET MARKET (from LESSON 1), their monster would be the FAT that’s destroying their lives. The FAT would be the overriding character, until the protagonist stands up to defeat it (with our product).
Sound familiar to ads you’ve seen? Overcoming the Monster is a TRIED AND TESTED Content Marketing plotline, (even though most marketers don’t even realise they’re using it!).
Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Homer’s Odyssey, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz…
…these are just a few examples of The Quest plot in action.
In this plotline your Protagonist must leave their comfort zone and go on a journey of PROGRESSION, to find someone, something or to realise their dreams.
When the quest is complete, everything is right with the world.
This plotline works for either protagonists (from LESSON 1).
If you’re using YOU, show yourself on a metaphorical journey to reaching a goal, e.g. Trying to reach 100,000 followers on Facebook in six months.
When using the TARGET MARKET protagonist, create a plot around your character in the process from PAIN to SOLUTION, e.g. a blog series updating your audience about the progress of a current customer, and the movement towards their long-term goals (thanks to your product).
Rags to Riches
You know Cinderella, Aladdin, Jane Eyre and Great Expectations, right?
Yep, you guessed it. They’re Rags to Riches plotlines.
The title Rags to Riches doesn’t need to be as literal as it sounds though.
This plotline is more about your PROTAGONIST reaching their FULL POTENTIAL.
They don’t need to start the story as homeless, unwashed and penniless.
In fact, if you’re using this plotline in marketing, begin with your protagonist as a run-of-the-mill AVERAGE JOE, then show them smash their goals (using your product/service), and achieve the unexpected.
These characters are massively relevant and relatable. If you push the right pain points, you’ll REKINDLE EMOTIONS from your audience’s past too.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
That’s because it’s a stone-cold killer in the content marketing world.
There are a ton of options for Rags to Riches plots, but we like using YOU as the protagonist. Show yourself before you started your business, what did you have? What was your life like? And then move onto the riches, how has your business transformed your life? What has your product/service done for you? What is your workplace like now?
Macbeth, Frankenstein, Scarface, Goodfellas…
This is the most DIFFICULT plot line to fit into content marketing, but being Einstein’s we’ll find a way.
In a tragedy plot, your protagonist either has an irredeemable flaw, or makes a tragic mistake that they CAN’T take back.
This mistake will lead to their downfall (even though, they often fight to reverse it right at the end).
The protagonist will have opportunities to escape their fate, but despite the audience’s desperate pleas, they fail to take them.
This plot is often used in content designed to SHOCK, SCARE and WARN audiences against making certain mistakes (remember those drink driving adverts?).
But Einstein would advise using this plot with a TARGET MARKET protagonist who did not consume your content/buy your product/follow your advice.
The tragic effects of missing out should REIGNITE your audiences interest.
Voyage and Return
The Chronicles of Narnia, Back to the Future, Gone with the Wind, Apollo 13…
…you know where we’re going with this.
Voyage and Return plots cast your Protagonist into a DIFFERENT WORLD. They must overcome something in order to return home.
Other than the odd exception, these plots are mainly used in children’s stories, because they’re exciting and EASY TO UNDERSTAND for young minds.
Nothing’s quite like home, is it?
This plot is AWESOME for content marketing. We can use it to tell the story of a protagonist who already has a happy ending, but has lost it (fallen from the top), and they must battle to get it back.
Think of a millionaire who loses everything, is thrown into a world alien to them and must FIGHT to get back where they were. Or a once beautifully figured woman, who gets addicted to jam donuts, and has to train to RESTORE her former glory.
Could your product/solution get them home?
This plot includes titles like Beauty and the Beast, The Kite Runner, Emma and The Secret Garden.
A rebirth plotline is headed for the same ending as a TRAGEDY, but just in the nick of time, your PROTAGONIST is reborn (has an awakening, a realisation, something changes their ways) and their fate is saved.
The rebirth makes them a better person, and helps them to their HAPPY ENDING.
Your marketing campaign can use a plot like this to show YOU or YOUR TARGET MARKET in dire trouble, before facing an important event that makes you/them see the error in your/their ways. You/they then discover your content/product/solution and they live HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
Imagine a salesman who hasn’t made a sale in over a month. He has no money to buy food for his family and can’t pay the bills. Then a lead REJECTS his offer, and tells them he needs retraining.
He finds your sales training, changes his ways and EXCEEDS his targets from that moment on.
Bridget Jones Diary, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mr. Bean, Four Weddings and a Funeral…
…all comedies, but not just because they’re funny.
A Comedy’s plot is based on confusion, usually through miscommunication or misunderstanding.
This confusion (usually) presents an EVIL FORCE at work, which is happily defeated by the end of the story.
Even more confusingly, if you thought we’d forgotten ROMANCE, it actually fits into the COMEDY plot type.
Comedy stories in content marketing are among the most popular, shared and memorable types of plot.
…they’re very hard to execute.
And, if you screw them up, you’ll have to work SUPER HARD to get that audience to return.
Using them in Content Marketing is a fine art. Unless you’re a skilled writer, we recommend sticking to VIDEO for Comedy Plots.
Try to imagine a few misunderstandings (around your Target Market’s Pain Points), that makes your character stumble on your product. Maybe they could even be confused about how to use it properly.
Either way, by the end, they’ll have found (usually by luck) the correct method and live HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
Storytelling: The 7 Plots
…that was a hell of a lot to take in.
Einstein suggests you go back over the plot(s) that stuck out the most, and test out a few ideas.
Remember, you’ll need more than one story to run through your content. So, try a few!
PLOT + CHARACTER = ???
OK, so you’ve got the basics of a decent story that relates, builds a relationship and engages/creates emotion in your target audience…
…how are you going to use it? And, more importantly, how are you going to create it?
Just blurt it all out? Bash a few keys until the words ‘THE END’ appear on your screen?
You’re getting that ‘WE WANT MORE’ feeling aren’t you?
You’ll get more, but not yet.
Einstein has to give his keyboard a break, and you need some time to perfect a storyboard-like structure for your content stories.
We’ll be back soon with everything you’ll ever need to drive traffic, engage an audience and make your readers BEG FOR MORE.
Until then, good luck.
This isn’t your HAPPILY EVER AFTER yet, but it’s coming.
Go straight to Storytelling for Marketers Part 3 HERE.
Did you love this content? What did you think of the 7 plots of storytelling? Leave a comment or send us a message, and we’ll reply as soon as our Social Media Manager has dragged himself away from the closest catering van.