7 Storytelling Plots for Marketing | Tell Your Story Well
Storytelling is essential to your branding and your life. Stories help us share, connect, learn, and find where we belong. That’s why we’re 22 times more likely to remember stories than facts. The way we tell stories has changed, from oral traditions to writing to television to web content. But despite media changes, the fundamentals of stories persist.
At any moment, your audience is working to overcome a challenge. They are the heroes of their stories with goals they’re trying to reach and villains they must overcome. It’s our job as content marketers to help them along the way by providing our audience the weapons they need to win their battles. Both you and your audience have unique characteristics that, when united, can help you both succeed. That’s where storytelling comes in.
Ready for your suit of armor? The most memorable stories fit into one of these 7 original stories.
The Seven Archetypes of Storytelling
1. Overcoming the Monster
Archetype: The hero is an underdog who conquers a monster to save the world.
Famous Stories: Beowulf, Dracula, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games
Content Marketing: The customer is the hero, and the brand is the faithful sidekick or weapon.
Marketing Example: Apple’s 1984 video tells the story of a girl fighting against Big Brother, highlighting how using a Macintosh computer will make you creative and powerful in a world of monotony and restricted information.
2. Rags to Riches
Archetype: The iconic American Dream, or the pauper to prince tale, where the hero starts with nothing and achieves his dreams against all odds.
Famous Stories: Jane Eyre, Aladdin, and Cinderella
Content Marketing: The customer is an unlikely hero, lacking something he or she needs to succeed. You play the Fairy Godmother or genie to give them a fair chance.
Marketing Example: Oprah and Paul Mitchell both share their personal stories of overcoming their initial hardships to eventually succeed as a part of their brand.
3. The Quest
Archetype: The hero and his companions travel far and wide to find what they’re seeking, defeating foes along the way. In the end, they often get both the reward and the girl.
Famous Stories: The Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, and Moana
Content Marketing: You and your customer are on the long road together. Your products or services should withstand the test of time, and you should be available to offer guidance each step of the way.
Marketing Example: AXE’s Make Love, Not War campaign shows how our heroes find (and act upon) love despite war happening around them.
4. Voyage and Return
Archetype: An ordinary protagonist is thrust into a strange new world and must make their way back home to their normal life.
Famous Stories: Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, The Wizard of Oz, and Labyrinth
Content Marketing: The customer seeks a way to recalibrate their life after a significant event, gaining new knowledge and wisdom along the way. You serve as the anchor to their ideal life.
Marketing Example: The Corona brand has built their reputation around vacations. The problem arose when the brand became typecast as a “vacation-only beverage.” The Find Your Beach campaign painted the idea that the beach is a state of mind rather than a location.
Archetype: A comedy in the Shakespearean sense (not in the Dumb and Dumber way) depicts a hero untangling a bizarre or confusing situation to achieve their goal.
Famous Stories: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ghostbusters, and Bridget Jones’s Diary
Content Marketing: Your mission is to help the customer navigate their strange new situation with a mix of playfulness and wisdom.
Marketing Example: Old Spice is remembered for their bizarre brand, from their ridiculous commercials to their hilariously creative Twitter page. Another memorable comedy commercial is the Jake from State Farm skit.
Archetype: Tragedy uses suffering or tragic flaws to warn against the dangers of the world.
Famous Stories: Romeo and Juliet, The Picture of Dorian Grey, and Breaking Bad
Content Marketing: Tragedy stories in marketing are typically PSAs that tell customers to avoid doing something with an adverse impact on their health. Guilt, sadness or fear are often used to make customers stay away from something bad. The marketer serves as an older, trusted source.
Marketing Example: The American Cancer Society shares ominous and memorable campaigns of how cigarettes can damage your body, which remind their audience why they need to quit smoking.
Archetype: The hero starts in apparent power, but lacks fulfillment. The hero must reinvent him or herself to reach a happy ending for both themselves and the world around them.
Famous Stories: Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, and Doctor Who
Content Marketing: The problem is presented to the customer with a warning. You and the client must work together to cast aside what is old and no longer working to create a new and better way.
Marketing Example: Gatorade’s Replay series tells the story of two hockey teams returning to the ice a decade after a game that almost cost one of the players his life. Rather than centering the story around Gatorade, they merely sponsor the game, and their products are only seen peripherally.
Which of these stories resonates the most with you and your business? How have you used storytelling for your business? Share in the comments below!