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The commercial story

The commercial story

Be it for entertainment, education, preserving culture or instilling moral values, we all appreciate a good story.

I recently read The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker in which he packages storytelling into 7 main formats:

  1. Overcoming the monster
  2. Rags to riches
  3. The quest
  4. Voyage and return
  5. Comedy
  6. Tragedy
  7. Rebirth

These themes can be mixed and matched to create more complex stories, but the narrative styles that Booker describes are consistent.

The best advertising, marketing and PR campaigns use storytelling techniques to convey brand values and create an emotional connection with their target audience (…that’s another story), but I also think that the same principles can be applied to everyday business communication.

Inspired by the appeal and creativity used in traditional narrative, the ‘commercial story’, as I like to call it, is an interesting, charming and witty way to hold your clients’ attention in a format they recognise and appreciate.

For instance, business case studies are a great opportunity to showcase this. Perhaps you have stories about overcoming a monster (the challenge), a quest (to find a solution for a client) or even a comedy (if something hilarious happened en route) to highlight your company’s successes, values and achievements.

Just as every business has its story, every team member and their personal bio add value to the overall picture. Perhaps this is because you’re more likely to work with Adam if he likes tennis as much as you do – and he’s also a highly qualified financial advisor so you feel you can trust him with your money. It’s a logical, rational and personable approach that’s likely to resonate with stakeholders.

Whichever of the 7 basic plots you chose to build your commercial story, it’s important to carefully set the scene, paint the picture and ensure they all live happily ever after…

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