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Brand Storytelling with the Hero's Journey: Act I

Brand storytelling starts with creating a content experience your audience will love, but it isn’t as easy as posting to Facebook a few times a week, or even regularly updating to your company’s blog. That’s because audiences are looking for a longer experience.

Folks want to immerse themselves in your brand and really get to know you. After all, they’re probably coming to you for answers or to solve a problem.

But that’s easier said than done. As a content strategist, I help organizations think about the brand storytelling long game. In other words, how can we use different media and platforms to engage with an audience at multiple points in time? In an earlier post, we talked about creating a bingeworthy brand—creating and posting content that will make your audience want more. But again, where do you start? For me, it’s all about going back to the very basics of writing and storytelling.   

Think about your favorite movies, TV shows and books—the ones with a strong protagonist. While the details may differ, there’s a good chance they all have one thing in common: they all follow the Hero’s Journey. It’s a tried and true formula of storytelling that goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks. The Odyssey is probably the most famous example, but countless other stories have used it since: Hamlet, Star Wars, The Matrix, Harry Potter, any Marvel movie. They all rely on the same template to tell their story. 

Ok, great. But what is the Hero’s Journey and how does it pertain to content marketing? 

Using the Hero’s Journey for Brand Storytelling

While all of the examples I listed above are certainly their own unique stories, they all rely on the road map provided by the Hero’s Journey. This formula, established by famed mythologist Joseph Campbell, lays out about 12 steps every hero takes from the beginning of the story (or book or movie) to the very end. 

But here’s the thing. The hero of your brand’s storytelling is your audience. They’re at the very center of an epic journey through which you’re going to lead them. From taking them out of their ordinary world to returning with the knowledge in hand, taking a page out of the Hero’s Journey playbook helps us as content marketers create an experience they’ll never forget. 

Act I: The Ordinary World

The Hero’s Journey is broken up into three acts, each with individual steps. We can align these three acts with the three stages of the Buyer’s Journey: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. 

In this blog, we’ll focus on Act I: The Ordinary World. Like the Awareness Stage, this is the first leg of your audience’s adventure. This is where you meet them and begin solving problems or answering questions. The Ordinary World is comprised of three main milestones: Call to Adventure, Refusal and Meeting with a Mentor. 

Call to Adventure

Call to Adventure | PFG BlogRight now, your hero is living his or her ordinary life, but probably wondering what else lies out there—think of Luke Skywalker staring at the suns on Tatooine. He knows he wants more, but he’s just not sure what it is. That’s where you come in. 

If you’ve worked in marketing, you’re probably familiar with the acronym “CTA.” Typically, this stands for Call to Action, the point where we ask the audience to, well, do something. This action could be clicking a link in a social post or downloading your new ebook. Whatever the case, the CTA needs to be enticing and worthwhile to the audience, your hero. How will you pull them out of their world and convince them to embark on the adventure? 

Think about top-of-the-funnel, awareness stage content. From social posts to blog articles, your call to adventure content should answer your audience’s questions and be easy to find. Most importantly, it needs to lead somewhere else—to more great content that ushers your audience farther along the journey. 

The Refusal

Refusal | PFG BlogWho me? I couldn’t possibly! No matter how great our content might be, audiences don’t always engage right away. With so many options and and a seemingly infinite amount of information out there, audiences are likely to be a little skeptical at first. They may scroll right past your perfectly-targeted boosted Facebook post or never open the first email in your campaign. 

However, if your content truly answers their questions or solves a problem, hang tight. Sometimes this refusal has nothing to do with eagerness, but rather bad timing. Maybe they don’t realize how big their problem is just yet. Strategies like A/B testing and posting at optimal times of the day help you hone in on the right formula to ensure your hero accepts the call. Keep tabs on your site analytics, too. Are certain blog posts or pages doing better than others? Focus on the content your audience is already engaging with and see what common factors you can find. 

Meeting the Mentor

Meeting a Mentor | PFG Blog

When your audience decides it’s time to solve the problem or answer the question, you need to be ready. From Yoda to Dumbledore, a hero needs a trusted advisor. That’s where your company comes in. You’ve already called your audience to the adventure of your brand’s content, now it’s up to you to answer questions and provide solutions. Keep your content engaging and informative to be a true mentor. They need to feel as if you’re a trusted advisor.

This will keep them coming back for more information and help usher them down the path you’ve set. This may come in the form of reading through multiple blog posts or signing up for newsletters. Maybe they’ve even given their contact info in exchange for a helpful worksheet or ebook. If you can prove yourself to be a trusted mentor, your audience will continue along with you. 

Once your audience trusts you, they’re ready to cross the threshold and learn everything they can about your brand and the second stage of the Buyer’s Journey, or in terms of the Hero’s Journey, Act 2: The Special World.

ProFromGo is Your Mentor for Brand Storytelling

Ok, so we’re not Yoda or Dumbledore, but we’re still pretty smart! From email campaigns to full website redesigns, we can help guide your marketing efforts along its own journey to help you reach that heroic, ideal customer. Contact us to learn more.

Chris Vendilli
About the Author
Chris is the founder and CEO of Vendilli Digital Group. In his free time, you’ll find him camping, fishing, or playing beer league ice hockey with a bunch of guys who refuse to admit they’re already over the hill.
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