Marketing: A Story in Three Acts

by Josh Garcia, Copywriter - 10/04/17

Marketing Story

To move your reader to act, present a compelling story to your audience that provides solutions to their healthcare needs.

Stories can have as much of an impact on us as we have on them. We seek out stories wherever we can—in books, on television, at the movies, onstage and in our daydreams. We spend our lives crafting our own personal narratives, searching for catharsis, happy endings and, perhaps above all, entertainment. Every sentence is an opportunity for plot and character development, an opportunity to spin an engrossing yarn. As healthcare marketers, tapping into this human need for stories is vital to building a relationship with your audience.

Act One — Set the Stage

To craft a compelling story with a strong message, follow the three-act structure of storytelling. Any story consists of a beginning (Act One), a middle (Act Two) and an end (Act Three). The first act sets the stage for everything to come, establishing the setting, the main character, and his or her goals.

More importantly, first acts must also give the audience a reason to care about the stakes at hand. Not only are characters introduced, but their aspirations must be conveyed in a way that resonates with the reader or viewer, even if the character’s importance is their apparent non-importance. For example, an unremarkable farm boy can make a compelling main character if he dreams of adventure and a more exciting tomorrow, especially when he is thrust into extraordinary circumstances that force him to learn and adapt in order to save the world or himself.

Luckily for you, the main characters in most of your marketing content will be your audience or patients sharing their stories. For the latter, make sure your audience can relate to the patient’s experience. The better you understand your main character’s setting, motivations, and desires, the better you can present a story that your audience will connect with.

Act Two — Complicate the Circumstances

While most of your audience isn’t responsible for the fate of the world, their goals are extremely important to them and hold a certain sense of dramatic weight. For example, a patient in your story may learn he has cancer. Fortunately, the disease was caught early and he has been given a promising prognosis. However, he doesn’t have the time or resources to visit a treatment center out of town for the infusions that he requires.

As you can see, complications—distinguishing features in the second act of a story—add drama to real life the same way they do in fiction. Adversity draws the audience further into the story and allows them to become invested in the outcome. As the plot thickens, they form opinions and desires of their own, especially if they relate to the character.

In the case of the patient with cancer, he needs to find a way to either make the drive to the treatment center or find an option closer to his house. For audience members who can relate to him, this conundrum hits close to home, as they may be looking for similar answers to their own problems.

The second act asks the all-important question: “How can the character—or more importantly, how can the audience—resolve the issues at hand?”

Act Three — Reveal the Resolution

The third act is where all complications are resolved, and the final message of the story reveals itself, possibly with revelations that do more than satisfy the initial problem.

In this instance, the patient with cancer finds his community medical center offers the treatments he needs. Not only does he not have to make the long drive to the treatment center out of town, but the local community center also offers personalized care that he could not have received at a larger institution.

Your audience, intrigued by the option the protagonist found, becomes interested in the community medical center and finds that she can receive similar care without having to make a laborious trip to a neighboring city. She is able to get the treatments she needs without taking time off of work or making her children ride the bus home from school. Her normal schedule is less disrupted, and she is grateful for being introduced to local medical offerings that will make her life easier now and in the future.

The end of a story should tie up all loose ends and wholly satisfy your audience. By presenting them with an engrossing tale full of complications and an effective resolution, you show them that you understand their story, their needs and their desires. If you can make them laugh, create suspense or surprise them along the way, the more memorable your story—and your marketing—will be.

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Topics: Content Strategy, Content Marketing

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