“A well-told story has the power to bring people together, while data and facts can drive them apart.” Will Yang, Head of Growth at Instrumentl said it best, continuing: “The human brain is wired to remember stories, not abstractions or numbers. Our brains use stories to make sense of the world around us, so we’re naturally drawn to them in the same way we're drawn to a good movie or book.
This is why narrative is so powerful in content marketing. A well-crafted story can be used as a vehicle for delivering information that might otherwise be difficult or dry for your audience to swallow.”
But…what if you don’t consider yourself a “good writer” or natural storyteller? Getting familiar with the elements of common storytelling templates can help you change that and incorporate more stories into your marketing.
To get you started, here are five of the top frameworks for storytelling and a simple way to use them.
Storytelling template #1: Hypothetical story
Although hypothetical stories are fictional, they can still be a powerful tool for content marketers. For example, you could use:
- An outrageous hypothetical scenario to highlight something you and your audience agree on before sharing additional info or even contrarian takes on a topic
- A realistic hypothetical story about a goal, challenge, desire, fear, or characteristic of your target audience. The more they can relate to the story, the more engaging and powerful your content will be
Great for: Hypothetical stories work well for blog posts. For example, they can be used in introductions to set the stage for the topic you’ll cover. Or in conclusions, as a cliffhanger to encourage readers to read or download a more in-depth resource.
Storytelling template #2: Hero’s Journey
The Hero’s Journey is a tried-and-true template for getting an audience invested and mentally engaged in a story. In a nutshell, this approach to storytelling walks viewers step-by-step through a character’s journey toward success, including the trials along the way.
- The character typically feels compelled to find or achieve something greater in life.
- They find a path toward that goal—perhaps by chance—and begin a transformation of some sort.
- They encounter challenges that threaten to derail their mission but they overcome it—often with help from a mentor or guide
- By the end of the story, they’ve undergone a complete transformation. They’re stronger and wiser. And you’ve been rooting for them the whole way through.
Great for: The Hero’s Journey can be used for brand storytelling. Or, even better, to tell customer success stories and guide the layout of case studies.
(Just remember to position customers as the heroes and your company as the helper who guided them through daunting challenges. When readers see the parallels between themselves and the heroes in your stories, it builds confidence in their ability to reach their goals and in your ability to help them).
Storytelling template #3: Chronological story
The simplest and most common format for storytelling is just explaining what happened from beginning to end.
- First, you set the scene to give context on the main character of your story and their situation, progressively building up to a major turning point in the story.
- You continue by explaining important events that followed—good or bad—in chronological order.
- Finally, you wrap up with the end result that those events led to, preferably with a takeaway that’s relevant to the reader.
Great for: This straightforward style of storytelling is a good choice for telling your brand story (e.g. on your website’s About page).
Storytelling template #4: Before After Bridge
The Before After Bridge Framework—also known as BAB—shakes up the order of events. With it, you:
- Start from the beginning, much like with a chronological story. You lay the groundwork and give the backstory.
- Skip straight to the end to heighten curiosity about the bridge between the before and after of your story.
- Go back and fill in the gap in the middle.
This template is a smart choice to keep people interested and engaged. Especially if the bridge of the story holds the key to their own before and after success story.
Great for: The BAB storytelling framework is great for things like company news and announcements. And it can also help you create great teasers for your social media content. For example, you could share the before and after, and then drive traffic to a piece of content on your website, an email list, a podcast, or some other source for the full story.
Storytelling template #5: Metaphorical or analogous stories
Last but not least are stories based on metaphors (figures of speech) or analogies (comparisons). How are these useful in content marketing?
- An unexpected metaphor can be great for grabbing and holding attention. It’d get people interested in the explanation behind the metaphor or, at the very least, give them a vivid mental image of the topic you’re covering.
- A strategic comparison can help readers understand a topic quickly. Relating something your audience knows well to a concept they’re less familiar with can be a good way to clarify new or complex ideas.
So be observant as you go through your days and keep an eye out for relationships between topics that might not usually be associated with one another. Jot them down and you’ll always have a bank of unique metaphor and analogy ideas to pull from when it’s time to create a story.
Great for: Metaphors and analogies are versatile and can even be used within the other frameworks we’ve covered. But they’re especially useful for short stories, infographics, and other formats where you want readers to get the point without the need for extensive explanations.
Become a master storyteller with Jasper
Itching to see how you can create stories like these yourself? We’ll show you a couple of examples with the help of Jasper, our AI writing assistant.
Jasper features 50+ templates for all sorts of writing. The one that’s especially helpful for hypothetical and chronological stories is the Creative Story template. All you have to do is give a brief description of the characters and plot, and enter the tone of voice you want Jasper to write in. In return, you’ll get an expanded story that you can use as-is or expand with Jasper’s help in a long-form document (on the Boss Mode plan).
Another one of Jasper’s 50+ content and copywriting templates is specific to the Before After Bridge framework. So, for example, let’s plug in a fictional company name, some exciting company news, and a tone of voice to create a short announcement.
Jasper’s output, which involves the target audience in the story, could be used in a marketing email or for social media posts.
And if you want to write longer stories or you’re not getting the kind of story you want from a template, you can try one of the many recipes created by the Jasper community. (These are basically reusable templates you can fill in to give Jasper the info you want him to use and commands to tell him what to write.)
For example, there’s The Hero’s Journey Outline for long-form (mainly fictional) stories. But you can also make your own custom recipes to get Jasper to write any kind of story you want.
To learn how recipes work, head over to the Recipes lesson in Jasper Bootcamp.
Storytelling has never been so easy. You have five versatile story structures you can use on your own. And you have Jasper at your fingertips to help turn your story ideas into reality quickly.
The faster you can produce engaging, compelling stories, the sooner you can start seeing their positive impact from your digital marketing campaigns. Why not sign up for a 5-day free trial Jasper and write a great story using one of the templates here!