Content Marketing: The Hero’s Journey

We’ve all heard time and time again that in marketing, “Content is King.” Here rather, content is [insert your favorite superhero].

Batman and RobinAt last week’s Digital Marketing Conference, keynote speakers Brian Clark and Sonia Simone touched on important points to remember when creating content for brands. The conference, which focused on content marketing, supported the idea that effective content is all about storytelling and that effective storytelling paints consumers and clients as heroes, addressing their problems and desires in order to guide them on the adventurous journey to fulfillment.

The monomyth, also known as the hero’s journey, surveys the life of a hero and his or her subsequent voyage to achieve great deeds. Well-represented in Apple’s iconic 1984 ad, these stories commonly feature the trials and challenges heroes face, followed by tales of overcoming fears, finding help along the way, and achieving the hero’s ultimate goal. There are elements in these stories about heroes that we all resonate with. We all can find ways to relate to Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Neo, and Frodo Baggins. Each of us has problems we wish to address and challenges we face in solving them. Lucky for us, content marketing is there to help us, just like Luke had Obi Wan and Harry had Dumbledore.

So how do the tales of our most cherished champions apply to the content we, as marketers, develop to appeal to the masses? Simple: make the masses into the hero and make the product (or service) into the mentor.

Though the typical monomyth follows heroes on their journey through many steps, building effective content emphasizes four of them by focusing on telling the hero’s story in your content, taking your audience on the journey they want to achieve their desires.

  1. The Call to Adventure — Herein lie your heroes’ deepest desires. Ask yourself, what does your audience want to change about their lives? Is it the ability to easily connect with friends? Stream television to their mobile device? Gain access to the latest news? Find the desire and paint the picture in a way they can relate. Maybe your hero hasn’t yet realized their journey. Good content will help. As Steve Jobs famously said: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
  2. The Refusal of the Call — What is keeping your audience — your heroes — from achieving this desire? Spoiler alert: Luke can’t kill Darth Vader because the man in black is actually his father; Superman had kryptonite. The way to overcome these challenges is through the delivery of your content and the hero’s awareness of your solution.
  3. Meeting the Mentor — Position your content as the mentor and tool that will help the hero solve their problem and pursue their desires. Authority is key in content marketing; if you position your content in a way that the audience perceives you as a likeable expert — a loveable mentor — they will see you as the means to their end and the fulfillment of their desires.
  4. Cross the Threshold — Provide a call to action for your hero. If your content doesn’t have a call to action then it’s just content, not content marketing. Not only does this make your content measurable but it also allows your hero to cross the threshold into a world where their desires are met and their journey becomes complete.

With great power comes great responsibility. Don’t forget that developing effective content affects all areas of business and to be responsive to your audience. Remember to be agile and let your audience tell you what’s working and what’s not. And in the end, may the force be with you.

Kallie Bullock can be reached at kbullock@sterlingpr.com. Follow her on Twitter @kallieswaggg.

Image via BusinessInsider