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Previously, we looked at Christopher Booker’s 7 basic plots of how stories are told. Today, we’ll look at the second of these 7 from a content marketing perspective: Rags to Riches.

If you’ve seen Cinderella, Pretty Woman, or other similar archetype stories, you know how it goes. Poor hero faces incredible challenges, gains something, loses it, and gains it back after becoming a better person or overcoming a situation.


A rags to riches story almost always has the inevitable loss in it, because a story with a simple linear progression is boring. The conflict and drama of gaining, losing, and then gaining again gives us an exciting story. This doesn’t necessarily need to be true for your content marketing!

It’s perfectly okay, when telling a customer’s story, for the rags to riches to be less dramatic. To create a compelling story of rags to riches, you must showcase contrast. The customer doesn’t need to lose it all and gain it back in order for people to understand the difference.

For example, if you’re a B2C financial services company, a very literal rags to riches story is how a customer went from being poor to being comfortably well off.

If you’re selling a product which changes a customer’s quality of life, you can structure rags to riches around the change in quality. For example, I recently bought an espresso machine. The rags to riches story there would focus on the poor coffee I was drinking every day, or the money I was spending at Starbucks, and how different and better my life is now.

Think about how effective weight loss and fitness products are sold; they’re rags to riches story where the increased wealth is your health.

If you’re selling B2B, remember the four core tenets of a compelling B2B value proposition: make my day better, save me time, save me money, or make me money. Whatever your product or service is, if it brings measurable value in one of those four cores, you can tell a rags to riches story. You’d tell a story about how time-poor your customer was, and look at how time-rich they are now.

A brand that has mastered rags to riches storytelling is Apple. Look carefully at Apple’s marketing of its products. They focus relentlessly on how the product will change your life:

This is rags to riches storytelling: look how much better our customers’ lives are with our gadget. Look how much better your life could be with our gadget.

Next in our series, we quest up Mount Doom with the One Ring.

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