You already know that your content needs to engage people on an emotional level – and that doesn’t mean steering clear of negative emotions. Yes, joy, wonder, and curiosity are valuable. But so are fear, frustration, and disappointment.
In my previous post, I talked about “types” of story you can use in your copy.
It’s widely accepted (thanks to Christopher Booker’s 2004 book “Why We Tell Stories“) that every story ever told falls into one of seven categories: Comedy, Tragedy, Voyage and Return, Rebirth, Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches and The Quest. Fun fact: he worked on the book for over 30 years.
The book looks at why humans are psychologically programmed to imagine stories this way – and why we react so strongly to them.
I want to talk to you about three of them – the three I think are most useful for fitness businesses and brands.
Up first – “Overcoming The Monster”
What barrier is your reader facing? What stands in the way of where they are, and where they want to be (or what they know, and what they want to know)?
And how can you provide the solution – get them from A-B?
Your client is the underdog of this story – and they need to “win”. Your job is to make them the hero.
In OCM stories, our hero sets out to challenge and destroy an antagonist. It can be an individual or a force, but it’s usually bigger or seemingly greater than them, and it threatens him/her, the family, the community, or the entire future.
It will take a lot of courage and strength for the protagonist to Overcome The Monster – they will often face difficult choices, decisions, losses, and will experience painful growth along the way.
They are never the same at the end of the story.
>> Think Star Wars, Terminator, most Westerns, Rocky (and most boxing films) David (of defeating Goliath fame), and – if you remember your mythology – Perseus and Theseus.
= For your purposes, the “monster” is unlikely to be a physical creature looming into town. It’s going to be your client’s fears, anxieties, biggest dread, self-doubt, self-sabotage, or perhaps the words of someone who has told them not to bother, or that they will never be sporty or that “everyone in this family is fat” =
>> Some examples to Overcoming The Monster in fitness advertising: Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign…. and pretty much anything Nike has ever done since they created the “Just Do It” call to arms in 1988.
There are five stages to an OTM type story – and you can use these to structure your copy…
1. Anticipation and Call
What is the monster? Why does it seem powerful? What type of threat does it pose? This is where your hero needs to accept the challenge.
Your hero prepares to battle whilst they are still some distance away (think about all those training montages set to music!)
The monster shows itself, and its power is revealed. Has our hero bitten off more than they can chew? It all hangs in the balance.
The battle is on. At first, our hero seems to be getting crushed by the monster. It looks bleak. But there’s no giving up. It looks like it’s all over for the hero…. but hang on, what’s this? The battle is about to take a turn.
5. Escape from Death, and Death of the Monster.
Hooray! Our hero wins (of course). Monster is defeated, hero is victorious, and he/she gets presented with riches or some kind of reward and returns home the conquering hero.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.