Guest post by Steve Rick

As marketers, you’ve heard it time and time again. From so many people ‘Stories sell.’ But do you know what it is honestly one of the only things in marketing that is true? (1)

Everything else can be disrupted, it can be manipulated, its can be designed, or played through different channels but the essence and core point is the same. How do you engage with customers and help them to become users, promotors and ambassadors of you? (2)

The title of this post is Falling Apple for a reason. What was the first thing that came to mind with that phrase?

Hopefully, most of you reading this would have thought of Sir Isaac Newton and the way he found the theory of gravity. Well, what if that was just a story?

We were all taught that is how gravity was founded, from school children to leaving education. It is a story that resonated. In fact, it resonates across the world. It’s its simplicity in the tale, that can be understood by all.

You know how it goes: Sir Isaac was sitting not too far from here in Grantham underneath an apple tree when one fell onto his head and this made him realise that everything is being pulled towards the earth’s core – stumbling across gravity.

But Isaac Newton was a mathematician, who was obsessed with the orbit of the moon and how it navigated around the earth. He was trying to understand how it was attracted to our planet, and not spiralling out in different directions. But explaining this theory to non-mathematicians and scientists would be tough.

So, it is now widely believed from the research from the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) that this was an anecdote that he conversed and created between 1666 and 1724. His mathematician brain looked to the story over a prolonged period. He cleverly honed the story down. The apple fitted with the idea of the shape of the earth, and at the time had biblical connotations with a tree being known for knowledge. (3)

But what can we take away from this as marketers? Well for me stories are the bedrock, our foundation of understanding. From fables, to novels and the latest Hollywood blockbusters, but ensuring your story resonates and is easily passed on is the key.

And guess what! there is a formula. (4)

Now I really don’t want you to read any further if you you really don’t want to have your cinema trips (5) or that latest best-selling book ruined (5), or you don’t want to becoming that person who is perceived to know ‘everything’. (5)

SPOILER ALERT! (6)

Avatar, Forrest Gump, Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Matrix, The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes, Any Marvel film, The Shawshank Redemption, The Lion King – the list is endless.

What if I told you, they are all the same story but played in a different way?

What if I told you we as marketers can learn from these and tell stories that mimic the emotional resonance of these blockbusters! (7)

The story that is being told is the Monomyth or how we in marketing affectionally call it – The Heroes Journey.

There are 9 clear stages in these stories. 

  • 1. The ordinary world – the world that our hero resides in, but they don’t realise they are a hero quite yet
  • 2. The call to adventure – Where the said hero, notices that there is another way of living life or another world they can be a part of.
  • 3. The Mentor – The one person who can help them make the difference.
  • 4. Crossing the threshold – when they relaise they must leave their ordibary world behind and make that decision
  • 5. Test, Allies and Gifts – 3 challenges must be overcome
  • 6. Approach to the innermost Cave – approaching / addressing their greatest challenge
  • 7. The Ordeal – Fighting the final battle
  • 8. The Reward – How they have won their quest
  • 9. Return with the Elixir – Returning to the ordinary world a changed person for the better.

Let me show you.

Now, the question is – that’s great for films but how does this work in marketing? (8)

Well it’s simple. It’s in the story structure, you just have to overlay to your customer groups.

  • The ordinary world – What does your customer currently do?
  • The call to adventure – Why do they need to change?
  • The Mentor – This is you as the company 
  • Crossing the threshold – Why must they look to your product or service?
  • Test, Allies and Gifts – 3 challenges that makes your product better than the rest
  • Approach to the innermost Cave – Why should they look to change or engage?
  • The Ordeal – Why would they win?
  • The Reward – How they will feel using your product or service
  • Return with the Elixir – how their lives would be better

Big brands play this same structure all of the time. Sonos, Kia, Oneplus, Apple, Adidas, Nike – again the list is endless. But just imagine how you could change your marketing and content narrative through the use of the framework. (9)

Oh, by the way – Take a look back through this post – notice an underlying theme?

Find the numbers through the post and overlay them onto the 9 stages of the hero’s journey. Hopefully you’ll remember this post!