Previously, we looked at Christopher Booker’s 7 basic plots of how stories are told. Today, we’ll look at the fourth of these 7 from a content marketing perspective: Voyage and Return.

JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit epitomizes the Voyage and Return, so much so that the subtitle of the book is There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Journey. The hero sets out on a journey, endures many challenges, and returns home changed, with nothing but experience. The same story is told in Alice in Wonderland. Voyage and Return is also Obi-Wan Kenobi’s story in The Phantom Menace and Sam Gamgee’s experience alongside Frodo in Lord of the Rings.

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Voyage and Return is a difficult story framework to tell a customer’s story because your customer shouldn’t be returning home empty-handed after an experience with you. Conversely, Voyage and Return is framework you can use to tell their stories for dealing with a competitor. Your customer goes out to satiate their hunger, has to deal with bad food or poor service at a competitor, and returns home wiser, yet still hungry.

Voyage and Return is an appropriate framework to use for telling your own stories, albeit sparingly. If your company got investor funding and then went back to being bootstrapped, or went public and became privately held again, you can tell the story of your experiences going to a place and coming back wiser. Maybe the investors had a different vision for your company than you did. Maybe the market wasn’t ready for what you do, but your customers are.

For example, the story of Steve Jobs being forced out of the company he started, Apple Computer, and coming back is a Voyage and Return. When Jobs came back from exile, he came back wiser and more capable of dealing with the many challenges Apple faced. The same is true of Howard Schulz and his story of stepping away from Starbucks, only to return to the helm, wiser and stronger.

In the next chapter in this series, we’ll have a laugh or two.


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