Updated: Jun 22
If your business words just describe you and the stuff you sell, your audience won’t care.
Your content should tell stories that connect emotionally and inspire your audience to take a hopeful path to a better place.
Whoa! That might sound like a tall order for your B2B web copy, blog posts, or campaign emails.
But science tells us stories engage our brains in ways plain facts and information don’t. Good lawyers know stories persuade judges and juries better than logic-based arguments.
Stories tap into our empathy and stay with us much more than, say, jargon-thick marketing prose that rehashes market challenges or compares technical functions.
What if you could harness the power of storytelling in your marketing to consistently move your audience to take the positive action?
You can, and here's one great way to do it. Psychologist and English professor Alan Monroe, regarded as a master communicator, created a simple, remarkably effective five-step story structure for persuasive speech in the 1930s. His students and other academics flocked to his innovative, wildly popular public speaking courses at Purdue.
He called the five steps Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.
Monroe mostly taught the technique for public speaking, but it works most every time for all of your marketing content:
Get attention: Make a personal, emotional, or unconventional appeal to capture attention quickly. Make it brief and do it in a way that prompts their interest in what’s next.
Relate to a need: Trigger an audience need and relate a common understanding of their challenge and desired outcome. Are they struggling to get their content to convert? Are they not seeing returns on their big investments in digital marketing? Stimulating a need leads the audience to seek a solution. This also swiftly makes the audience the center of the story—your audience is always the hero, not your product.
Suggest a way to satisfy the need and make their life better: Here your story starts to build hope. You are not creating satisfaction but proposing a way to satisfy the need and improve their life. Help your audience see what is today and what could be. You are building the bridge that leads the hero further along in their journey.
Visualize the successful solution in place: Help your audience see the solution (your solution) in place and solving their problem. Don’t focus on product technology and features or in the deep weeds of process and methodology. Get them to see themselves succeeding by working with you to meet their need.
Provide a clear next action: You have built trust and understanding and projected the path to success. Now give the audience a clear, simple next step.
I saw this great example from the session guide for the Marketing Profs fall online forum:
The Monroe Motivated Sequence is one of many excellent story structures for marketing. As you explore this one and others (hero's journey, three-act structure, Freytag’s pyramid), you'll notice that they are typically slightly different paths toward the same ultimate end.
Monroe has been my go-to for content marketing because it drives efficiently from interest to action. It creates a consistent brand messaging foundation to boost your clicks, the time users spend on your website, engagement with social media, and qualified inbound inquiries.
Want to see how it works with your content? Email us one of your blog or social media posts (or web content, or an infographic--whatever you'd like) with up to 1,200 words and we'll give it the Monroe treatment so you can see how it turns words into stories.