Welcome back, Brand Storytelling Hero! In our last post, we introduced the concept of the Hero’s Journey—a tried and true method of storytelling that you’ve seen in everything from Homer’s Odyssey to Star Wars to Harry Potter. If you haven’t read that first post yet, you can find it here.
Here’s a brief recap. The Hero’s Journey begins in the “Ordinary World.” Think Tatooine or Number 4 Privet Drive. It’s where we first meet our hero, or in content marketing terms, our audience. At this stage, we’re introducing the hero to their journey by calling them to adventure and positioning ourselves as a trusted mentor.
Now, in Act II we invite our audience to leave their ordinary world behind and venture into the unknown, or “Special World.” Like the first act, Act II of the Hero’s Journey is broken up into a few milestones that help shed light on the continuing adventure. That’s what we’ll cover in this post.
Act II: The Special World
By now, you’ve given your audience enough reason to embark on a content journey with your brand. You called them to adventure, perhaps with a well-placed social post or email, and they’ve experienced enough of your content to trust you as a brand who may be able to answer their questions or solve their problems. In terms of the Hero’s Journey, we call this point “Crossing the Threshold,” But now that they’re on board, what comes next?
Tests & Allies
This might seem a little dramatic for content marketing, but stay with us. Your audience is finally outside of their comfort zone. In terms of their needs, maybe it’s simply realizing they have a problem that needs a solution or changing the way they’ve always thought about a product or service. In this way, you’re really testing their idea of the status quo, perhaps allowing them to realize there might be a better way to do things.
What do any of us need in a trying situation? Allies. As your audience’s mentor throughout the hero’s journey, you certainly fill that role (think Obi-Wan or Dumbledore). But what other allies can you provide? Valuable resources your brand offers can fit that role such as links to more helpful information or case studies. Furthermore, leverage your company’s subject matter experts to paint a full picture of your brand’s ability to solve problems. Like in most stories, allies bring different attributes to the table—Hermione Granger had her intelligence, Han Solo was cunning and quick to act, Samwise Gamgee was loyal through the end. Demonstrate to your audience that you have the resources and team to help them through their decision making.
The Inmost Cave
In any story, the hero is confronted with the hardest challenge of all—whether or not to keep moving forward. This is the point where your audience will decide to truly convert into a lead. Are they actually willing to offer up their email address for that ebook? Do they want to speak to a sales rep?
The Cave represents that moment of self-reckoning. The audience member asks his or herself, do I actually want what this brand is offering? Are things fine just the way they are? It would’ve been very easy for Luke Skywalker to abandon his friends in the Cloud City, for Frodo to simply throw the One Ring away, for Harry Potter to ignore the signs that Voldemort had returned, but in all of these cases, the need to make life better for everyone propelled our heroes forward.
What can you offer your audience to help them make the right decision? (Please don’t freeze anyone in carbonite). Make your hero’s decision to press on worth it.
Following the Inmost Cave, your hero arrives at their ordeal—the climax of your story. It’s the moment they convert. In order to do that, there needs to be a suitable reward. Luke knows he can restore peace to the galaxy by beating Darth Vader. Sure, you know your brand has the answers and solutions your audience needs, but sweetening the pot goes a long way. Offer your hero something indispensable and truly worthwhile.
You probably can’t offer restoring peace to the galaxy or destroying the One Ring, but you can definitely make life easier for your audience. Send the back on the journey home with an informative ebook, whitepaper or checklist, or offer an exclusive coupon or custom quote. Reward your audience with an appropriate victory.
This might seem like the end of the Hero’s Journey, but it’s far from over. Stay tuned for our final chapter, Act III: The Return to the Ordinary World.
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