Storytelling for Marketers: The Most In-Depth Instruction Kit Anywhere (Part 4)

by Josh Barney

Give your eyes a break, listen to the audio version: 


We’ve crossed rivers, climbed mountains and beat back the legions of distraction.

It’s time to switch your phone to silent, angle your screen to the perfect degree and cosy up for…

Storytelling for Marketers Part 4.

Oh yeah, we did that.

In this lesson, we’re going to show you how to get the most from your stories, including tons of inspirational examples, a hatful of strategies and bags of serialising tactics.

But first…


(If you’ve already completed these lessons, skip down to the next section)

All of our guides are put together with one person in mind, YOU!

We really want you to get this, so for goodness sake, get to the appropriate lesson and we’ll see you in PART 4 soon enough.

If you decide to keep reading but haven’t completed the earlier lessons, you’re only cheating yourself (in other words, you’re LAZY).

Here are the links:

PART 1: Protagonist and Story Features

PART 2: Plot

PART 3: Antagonist and Story Structure

Storytelling Formats

storytelling for marketers content story format

Content stories are best told in 1 of 3 formats:




Alright, we admit, this isn’t BIG NEWS

…but, there are two things you MUST take-away:

  1. Don’t use images- (unless you’ve got loads of time on your hands) Images don’t allow us to build a relationship. There’s just too much content out there!
  2. Adopt a mixture of formats- use all three types to reach a wider audience. Some people read content, others watch it on social media, many people listen to audio files while driving or exercising. HIT THEM ALL!


Break it Up! Break it Up!

storytelling for marketers serialising content stories

We want our audience to revisit our business/brand, don’t we?

Content stories increase your chances of return traffic and engaged readers

…when they’re broken up!

In other words, imagine taking your favourite book (or movie) and tearing it into 3 equal slices.

After you’ve watched the 1st part, you’re hungry for the 2nd

…and starving for the 3rd.

Does it work?

Just ask Charles Dickens (after you’ve revived his corpse, or contacted him on your Ouija board)

In 1841 American fans rioted and stormed the New York Harbour, waiting for a British ship to dock with the latest chapter of ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’.

So, that’s law breaking, social disobedience and a good old-fashioned riot, all in the name of a story…

…let’s use it.


The 3 (Best) Types of Serialised Content Stories

 serialising content stories in marketing

This is Part 4…

…it isn’t your first storytelling rodeo.

By now, you should have protagonist(s), plot(s), antagonist(s) and story steps.

It’s time to pour that big ol’ juicy mixture into one of Einstein Marketer’s 3 types of serialised story:



serialising content stories storytelling for marketers

This type of story features recurring, (very) similar short stories.

An episode is completely tied up (start, middle and end) in one hit, but it is so entertaining, interesting and compelling that the audience can’t wait for the next installment.

Episodes work really well with a KILLER antagonist and a really simple, yet effective plotline.

They are split up, usually by a week (to avoid overkill), and typically hung on a TITLE HOOK.

My personal favourite is the genius, WILL IT BLEND? by Blendtec.

The story of these episodes is always the same, what can their blender defeat?

If we go back to Part 2 of our series, you’ll remember the OVERCOMING THE MONSTER plot.

Blendtec uses this plot, with their product (YOU, Storytelling Part 1) as their PROTAGONIST, against different ANTAGONISTS (monsters).  And their narrator creates the engaging hook.

These videos receive millions of views, have a repeat audience and demonstrate the power of their product.

Here’s one of our favourites (because nobody actually likes Justin Beiber, do they?):



Want to see more of WILL IT BLEND? we’ve got a link at the bottom of this post.


The Ascent

serialising content stories story format marketing

An ascent content story is made of continuous updates about reaching a specified target (happy ending).

The key differential in ASCENT content stories is that they have a definitive ending, but unknown obstacles and time frames.

Ascent stories are amazing sources of relatable inspiration for your target market.

They can use either of the Protagonists (Storytelling Part 1), and any PLOT…

…but, they won’t work without HONESTY.

Don’t miss anything out! Your audience needs to hear EVERYTHING! Make sure they do.

Ascent stories can also build a huge amount of engagement. Whether that comes in the form of support or advice, it’s incredibly valuable.

(You should grasp every possible opportunity to hold conversations with your audience. Especially mid-story.)

Ascent stories are so powerful, bloggers build their entire audience from them. In many cases, they’re the whole reason for the blog.

Perhaps the most notable is the story of one red paperclip.

(It’s an oldie, but a goodie)

Way back in 2005, a man created a blog about one red paperclip and how he was willing to trade it for something in return…

…and he did, for a pen shaped like a fish.

He then used his blog to trade that pen for a doorknob…

…and so on, until…

…14 trades later, he’d traded his way to a house.

That’s right, his story took him from one red paper clip to a house!

He didn’t spend a penny, just traded up and kept his audience engaged with his story.

Cool, right?

Ascent updates get cooler the further an audience travels.

And don’t worry, we’ll give you a link to the full red paperclip story at the bottom of this post.



storytelling for marketers serialising content stories

This is a story already planned, decided and written, with a definitive beginning, middle and ending.

Features are the simplest to put together. All the elements have already been covered in Part 1, 2 and 3 of this series.

When your story is ready, use the worksheet from Part 3 to split your story into three steps.

There are no hard or fast guidelines for the different stages of a feature story, but if you’re stuck for ideas, here’s a classic (never fail) formula:

Part 1- use your protagonist to create a connection with your audience (e.g. they both have the same BIG PROBLEMS). Begin the story, and just before the close of Part 1, include your first big turning point.

Part 2– reveal the effects of the turning point in part 1 to emotionally affect your audience (through your protagonist). Build up to another turning point. Leave part 2 with a cliffhanger.

Part 3- detail the effects of the turning point in part 2. This leads to a big discovery, final battle (the end of your chosen plotline), a resolution and satisfying close.

Don’t panic if your story requires more (or fewer) installments. There’s no set guideline.

But, be careful trying to stretch them into too many parts…

…because your audience will stop caring.

And they’ll never return.

Value is more important than quantity. Don’t forget that.


Storytelling: Using Your Stories

storytelling for marketers serialising content

Did all that go in?

We hope so.

If it didn’t, don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere. Come back to the blog anytime for references whenever you need them.

When you’ve been through the different story format strategies, draw the elements of Storytelling Part 1, 2 and 3 together and create engaging forms of content.

And remember, VARIETY is the spice audiences love.

Play with ideas until your content is on point.

This is only part 4 of 5. In the next lesson, we’ll show you exactly how to place your content stories. Expect loads more examples and actionable strategies!

We’ll see you there.

Did you enjoy Part 4? Have you already got some content stories ready? Ask for Einstein Marketer’s advice by leaving a comment or sending us a message. We’ll reply as soon as our Social Media Manager has recovered from a (slightly suspicious) sick day.


Storytelling Part 1

Storytelling Part 2

Storytelling Part 3

Storytelling Part 5 (coming soon…)

Will It Blend?

One Red Paperclip 

Josh is the Founder of We Imagine Media, an award-winning content marketer, best selling author and creator of the He creates and strategises content, sharing the most successful tactics with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links so he can get back to writing as himself.

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