From RAGS To RICHES – classic stories for fitness brand marketing

Posted on April 3, 2018

I’ve been talking about storytelling recently – and the most effective “categories” of story for fitness businesses like yours.

(Check out the post back there with the shadowy claw-hand – that was the first “category” (Overcoming The Monster).

Let’s look at another type of story (as identified in Christopher Booker’s 2004 book “Why We Tell Stories“).

Rags To Riches

We can all name several rags to riches stories from fairytales through Disney and beyond. Think Cinderella, Aladdin, Pretty Woman, Forrest Gump, Slumdog Millionaire, and Rocky (yep, him again – I know I mentioned him in the “Overcoming The Monster” post but this is why boxing movies get us so hard in the feels – they are impeccable examples of storytelling).

You know how the R2R story goes. Poor (yet plucky) hero faces incredible challenges despite all the odds being against him. He usually has a loyal sidekick or just one person championing them. Our hero gains something, loses it, then gets it back again – but not until they’ve overcome a situation, learned something important, or become “better” somehow.

There is conflict and drama. The narrative has ups and downs (it would be pretty boring otherwise). The hero always loses something (or someone), or has to leave something behind in order to progress.

So how can you use R2R in your marketing?

Two ways…

For social proof
Client case studies don’t need to be as dramatic as a movie plot, but they do need to show clear progress – with the client overcoming the odds and triumphing in the end. Build the story around contrast: what was life like before, what happened during the journey, and what is life like now? How will your products or services bring “riches” (health, happiness, confidence, fitness) into their life? What are the “rags” they so desperately want to leave behind?

Your own story
Intelligent and subtle use of R2R in your own storytelling can really help you connect and resonate with your target market. Do this clumsily, and you’ll come across as cheesy or – worse – insincere. But get it right, and it can create a deep connection which showcases your empathy. Where did you start from? What obstacles did you overcome along the way? What did you learn? How can your story inspire and encourage potential clients who are further back in the process?

Some examples of Rags To Riches in sports and fitness advertising: remember the Nike Golf ad (2016) where Tiger Woods inspired young Rory McIlroy to greatness? Fantastic example – watch it on Youtube to remind yourself.

Or Gatorade’s ‘Rise Up’, ‘Greatness is Taken’, and ‘The Secret to Victory’ campaigns: “Every athlete loses. It’s part of the game. But what separates the good from the great is how they bounce back.”

Contact me if you want to know how to use stories like this in your own fitness brand’s marketing.

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