In this post: Learn how to use a landing page narrative template to design your web and landing pages to connect with your site visitors and convert more of them into satisfied customers.
Background: Storytelling has been one of the most successful marketing methods since its creation. In recent years, businesses in all industries have been trying to find ways to tell stories online that will allow them to connect with customers in an ever-crowded online marketplace flooded with distractions.
One area in which you will hear about this is that of Web Design and Landing Page Design. The best web designers and consultants teach that your website has to have a narrative that will lead prospective customers smoothly through their path to purchase, allowing them to reach the decision to buy from you in their own time and of their own volition.
But how do we as marketers and entrepreneurs use Narrative to tell stories in our landing pages? Unless you have a background in literature or a degree in narratology, it’s a lofty expectation that you will be able to design a landing page that tells a compelling enough story that convinces a potential buyer to take time out of their day, and money out of their pocket, to do what it is your call-to-action is asking them to do.
For us non-Hollywood script-writers, we need a template to follow that allows us to plug-in our customer’s problems and our business’ solutions, and easily leads potential customers to envision what life doing business with our company is like.
This landing page narrative template that I’ve created for you borrows from the tried and tested narrative plot outlines used by movies and books for over a century. It keeps us from having to reinvent the wheel and allows us to take advantage of the years of hard work those in the film industry have been so long doing. All we need is a way to match their formulas with the specifics of our businesses and to make sure that we do it in a graphically aesthetically pleasing way.
First, let’s look at one of the most common plot templates for a movie, and then we’ll translate it into a landing page narrative template.
Narrative Plot Outline One: “The Hero You Want to Be”
This plot is common in romantic comedies, lovable teenage redemption movies, and average Joe’s trying to make it to being successful providers for their family’s. The idea is that the viewer is introduced to the main character who has some sort of “every man/woman” quality. They are average in most ways, but generally good-hearted, likable, or undervalued for their true worth.
These films usually start by showing us the regular, every-day life of the main character, and then they dangle some carrot that when attained would make the main character’s life much better, i.e. in a new social/income bracket, or a new level of status like partner of a law firm, or student of a prestigious university such as Harvard.
I’ve adapted this common and applicable plot into the landing page narrative template down below, so if you’re not interested in the fundamentals, feel free to skip down below.
The plot outline looks like so:
Chapter One: We are introduced to the main character and shown what his life is currently like. We see his daily routines, as well as a typical conflict that he might have to encounter and how he might usually deal with it.
Chapter Two: The carrot is dangled. We are then introduced to the one thing/person that would take our average Joe from average to All-Star. For example, our main character is at the office and her colleague comes in to talk about the open partner spot in the firm that everyone is vying for (our main character included).
Chapter Three: We’re then introduced to the antagonist or the person/thing that is most likely to stand in our main character’s way of becoming the All-Star he/she wants to be. The antagonist then does something major to keep our main character from getting their dangled carrot, and our main character is defenseless against it.
Chapter Four: Now the main character has the decision of how to react to this obstruction from the antagonist. Does he sit back and take it? Or does he fight back? He goes through the emotions of loss and disappointment, only to then build back up to have even more inspiration and determination than before. His quest, and the narrative, is on!
Chapter Five: The battle planning begins. The main character starts planning his action to take the fight to the antagonist and get his carrot back.
Chapter Six: The main character’s first plan and attempt has one major obstacle to overcome to keep it from working. She tries her best to get the carrot back on her first try, but the obstacle is just too great and she can’t overcome it.
Chapter Seven: Now is when the main character has to decide to truly be all in. The first plan was the most logical one, but possibly not the one that gave her the best chance for success overall. The plan that gives the best chance for success is probably more riskiest, and there will likely be no coming back from it. Now the main character has to decide to go all out and hold nothing back.
Chapter Eight: The main character goes for it all, almost doesn’t get the carrot, and almost loses it all in the process. But in the end, he wins. He gets the carrot and the antagonist is vanquished.
Chapter Nine: To summarize the final chapters of Act 3, the main character now examines how their life is different with their new carrot. Do they feel fulfilled? How are the people around them affected? In a happy movie, this is usually when the sun is shining and everyone is laughing around a circle. In a more grown up/introspective movie, the main character may realize the carrot wasn’t that great after all.
Landing Page Narrative Template One: “The Hero Your Customer Wants to Be”
Section 1: Defining Your Customer
In this section, you will make it clear to visitors of your website what a customer of your business looks like. If you’re a home flooring company, you will paint the picture of a homeowner who is looking to improve the look, or value of their home by getting new flooring.
You describe the problems your typical customer faces to connect with them and show them they have chosen the right website.
Section 2: Dangle the Carrot
Now you want to show your customer the solution to their problems. What will take them from feeling like “average Joe with a problem” to “I’m an all-star because I found a solution.”
Section 3: Address the Objections (Antagonists)
What are the obstacles that have kept your customer from choosing a solution before now? Lay out what they usually are: price, trust, time commitment; and then explain how you overcome those.
Section 4: Offer Customers a Choice
Now it’s time to offer your potential customer a decision. Do they want to continue life the way they’ve been going without you? Or do they want to take action and try and go after that carrot?
Section 5: Time to Battle Plan
If the customer has (mentally) decided to take action, now is the time to tell them what those next action steps are. Here is where you outline the process of doing business with you so that your customer knows what they are getting themselves into, and how it will help them get their carrot.
Section 6: Eliminate the Risks
Briefly revisit your objection overcoming section to once again make it clear to your potential customer that they won’t lose anything by taking the action that you are about to ask them to take.
Section 7: Ask the Customer to Go All-In
Now it’s time for your call-to-action. If you’ve been building up to get your clients to request a consultation, now’s the time to put the hard sell on that consultation offer. Explain that this is the action they need to take if they want to get that carrot. All they have to do is click that one button, fill out that one form, or make that one phone call, and the rest will take care of itself.
Section 8: Show Life After the Carrot (Testimonials)
After telling your potential customers all about how great life is with the carrot and how you can help them get it, show them some real life proof of people who have done what you’re asking them to do and ended up with the carrot. This completes the narrative in their mind.
Section 9: Final Call-to-Action
You’ve made your case, presented the facts, and given your hard sell. Now it’s time to give them one last simple offer to do business with you. This is where they are at the point of no-return. One last question, “Are you in? Or are you out?”
Conclusion: With this landing page narrative template, the goal is to give prospects the best possible opportunity to choose to do business with you. You’re simply showcasing your business’ solution to your customers’ problems using tried and true narratology used by the pros for centuries.
By using this template, you can communicate with your prospects by telling them an informative story, and then let them decide if your business is right for them. But the most important thing for you is that you showed your business in the most attractive way possible, and you positioned your company as the solution for your customer to become the hero they’ve always wanted to be.
Credits & Sources: I could not have written this blog post without the hard work done at thewisesloth.com. Their comprehensive outlines of multiple types of plots are very well written and easy to understand. If you’re interested in seeing the method behind the madness of story-telling, definitely check out their blog.