Using Story Archetypes in Content Marketing The Voyage & Return
So, quick recap! Yesterday, we talked about The Quest. It's great for framing long, difficult yet transformative experiences like selling a coaching service or a masterclass. If you happened to miss out on that, no worries you can read it on my blog here! Today, we're talking Voyage and Return (the first cousin to The Quest plotline). This is a popular storyline for kids stories because the story starts right off the bat as you're immediately thrown into Awful/Awesome Land.
This archetype focuses on learning big life lessons rather than material gain.
Here are its five parts:
Anticipation & Fall into Awesome/Awful Land: our protagonist exists in a dreary and boring world before they magically find themselves in Awesome Land.
The Dream Stage: everything in Awesome Land is incredible, beautiful, amazing. Our protagonist is filled with joy and excitement.
The Frustration Stage: darker magic starts to creep into the picture, and the world begins to feel oppressive, and shifts into Awful Land.
The Nightmare Stage: everything goes to absolute shit from violence or a catastrophe, our protagonist is scared but must learn something.
The Thrilling Escape & Return: like most stories, everything is neatly wrapped up and our protagonist narrowly escapes disaster and returns home with nothing more than the lessons they learned.
The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe (the rest of the series, too)
Alice in Wonderland
I'm not seeing how this relates to marketing or content...
Like The Quest, The Voyage and Return is a little bit more complicated to use in marketing but it still has value.
With this archetype, the central tension revolves around our protagonist learning something valuable about themselves but ultimately returning home with nothing more than that.
Coming home empty handed is a great way to tap into the pain some clients feel after they pay for a something that ended up being unsatisfying.
This story archetype is used by copywriters everywhere to write long-form sales letters. In these, Awesome Land isn't a real place but rather a mind shift, that feeling of intense potential energy that ends up being lost for one reason or another.
Play up that loss of Awesome Land and then show them how your option (The Quest or Rags to Riches) is something better.
The Voyage and Return is also super useful when talking about past experience to potential clients or at a job interview. What do you now know that you didn't know before? Why does that make you the better option?