It sounds almost mystical, doesn’t it? It should, for it’s the formula of many ancient myths and legends.
Also called The Hero’s Journey, you’ll find the monomyth format in many modern-day legends as well, such as Star Wars, The Matrix and even The Lord of the Rings.
“So what exactly is this monomyth thing and what does it have to do with content marketing?”
Here is a simplified version.
The monomyth is the story of a quest
In his book “Hero of a Thousand Faces,” Joseph Campbell coined the term to describe the journey traveled by the heroes of myths and legends as they sought out the solution to a problem or challenge.
Venturing into the realm of the supernatural, it was a call to action and adventure.
The hero was often unaware of the problem until summoned. Tasked with a seemingly unattainable goal, he reluctantly quested forth from the ordinary world toward the extraordinary world of transformation.
Lions and tigers and mentors, oh my!
As this reluctant hero began the quest, he was confronted by myriad challenges and obstacles. The hero wandered around, lost and confused.
“I’ll never find the answer,” he complained.
Then he met . . . the mentor.
The mentor offered valuable advice and instruction. As the hero gained confidence in the mentor, he gave permission for the mentor to accompany him.
The mentor walked with the hero, giving persuasive counsel often veiled as stories and anecdotes.
The hero began to make decisions based on the mentor’s advice.
Into the extraordinary world of transformation
The mentor finally guided the hero into the world of transformation. There he met both challengers and helpers. The hero sorted the good from the bad with the mentor’s help, and was finally ready to enter the innermost cavern and face the Supreme Ordeal.
His self-confidence and faith would be tested once again as he dealt with his greatest decision. If he chose well, he would remain the hero and return victorious.
But, if he chose poorly . . .
Seizing the treasure and the triumphant return
The hero would make the right decision, defeat evil, seize the prize and return to his clan victorious. Even so, this conqueror would be plagued with doubts on the journey home. The mentor interceded and reassured our champion that he had truly chosen well.
That he would indeed return to his village a victor.
The cast of characters
You’re a writer so you probably already know who’s who in the monomyth. However, your client may not.
Here’s the cast.
The Hero – The hero of the story is not you, nor your client. The hero is your client’s prospect. She’s been tasked with finding a solution. She is the reluctant hero. While your clients might see themselves as Sir George, riding in to slay the dragon and save the day, they’re not.
The prospect is always the hero.
The Mentor – That’s you, the writer, of course. Through your content marketing, you lead the hero to, through and beyond the extraordinary world of transformation. You help her cross the threshold, face the supreme ordeal, seize the treasure and return home as the victorious champion.
The Helpers and Challengers – The helpers are your clients. They have the solution to the hero’s problem. If you have prepped your hero with compelling content, she will be receptive to your client’s solution.
The challengers are your client’s competitors. They, too, have mentors they send out. And because of this, your hero enters the innermost cavern and faces . . .
The Supreme Ordeal – The supreme ordeal is the point where your hero – the prospect – must make a decision. The air is deathly still as she chooses and . . .
Seizes the Treasure! If you’ve been a worthy mentor, the hero will choose your client’s option. The sale is made. Now it’s time to make the arduous journey back home to the ordinary world.
The Journey Home – You know that the sale is never “in the bag.” People suffer from buyer’s remorse. They begin questioning the validity of their decision. That old dragon – Doubt – is still breathing fire.
Your task as mentor is not over yet.
Follow-up material should be written to buttress your hero’s decision. You must reassure her that she made the right choice. The challengers are still snapping at your heels, trying to change your champion’s mind.
Don’t let them!
Can you see how the monomyth mimics the sales funnel (or perhaps it’s vice versa)?
- Unaware - of the problem, but soon to find out
- Awareness – of a problem but unaware of your solution
- Attraction – finding a mentor
- Permission – allowing the mentor to guide
- Conversion – trusting the mentor’s wisdom at the time of decision
- The Sale – seizing the prize
- Service after the sale – the journey home
It’s all there.
The legend – your legend – begins now
So, Obi-wan Kenobi.
Are you ready to become mentor to your hero and guide her?
To help her enter the innermost cavern, face the Supreme Ordeal and emerge the victor?
If you are, understand that you must know your hero’s needs as well as you do your client’s offer. You must become a student of her before you can become a mentor to her. That is the mentor’s responsibility.
If you do this – and do it dutifully – you’ll write content that is . . .
You’ll need an epic headline to go with that epic content! Check out our SlideShare presentation on "How To Write Headlines That Are Better Than Bacon-Covered Bacon".