Like a great aromatic rose, petal formula stories pack an enticing punch. They are nearly as popular as the hero’s journeys. Every year these themes earn billions of dollars for movies and television shows.
They can work for you too.
Why? They are hero’s journeys. Each petal is a hero’s journey.
On your favorite rose, each petal is a component contributing to the beauty and the aroma of the flower.
So too, with stories that use the petal story formula.
Petal stories are a series of individual stories or experiences that all tie into the overall theme.
Think of them as a mini-series. These make fortunes on television as they keep the person coming back. Each episode can stand on its own…but it draws you back to see what’s next.
Game of Thrones, Outlander, the Vikings, Chernobyl, and When They See Us all followed the mini-series format and garnered a huge viewership.
In alternative health or CBD, the style works well with testimonials. They just need the same product to tie them together.
It’s formed by multiple mini-stories. The people might be similar or they may be diversely different. The common thread is how they benefited from one of your products.
The entire story is dependent on each story told well so it could stand on its own. It must also tie back into the core idea or product.
Then we move to the next petal.
The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants
This popular comedy-drama from 2005 is a great example of the petal story model in a movie format. The petals are simple and straight forward.
In the movie, we meet four teenage girlfriends. They have been best friends for years and spent many summers together.
But this year they are going different directions. Separated.
Bridget has her eyes on a soccer camp in Mexico.
Lena is visiting relatives in Greece for the first time.
Carmen is going to visit her estranged father in South Carolina.
And poor Tibby is feeling stuck at home. She is stocking shelves at Walmart…and caring for her kid sister.
Carmen says of the four, “together we seem to make one complete person.” A personality trait from each of us contributes to that complete being.
Carmen guides us through the girls’ shopping adventure at a thrift shop. There they discover a great pair of jeans.
Each girl has a very different body shape. But the pants fit each girl perfectly. A bit of magic is in the air.
The girls decide they will each take turns wearing the pants for a time during the summer. Then they will mail them on to the next “sister.”
Hence, we have the sisterhood of the traveling pants.
Okay – I didn’t say it was sophisticated.
The pants are the theme. They represent the tight bond between the very divergent girls.
The pants form the center of the flower. The center of our story petal model.
Each girl’s story forms one of the petals.
Each petal story follows the “hero’s journey” style as they have their summer journey. Frustration, pain, joy…first love.
The girls have to develop new friends, new mentors and stand up to their challenges on their own.
Why use the petal story technique?
It’s our built-in connection with stories that gives them so much power. We have that strong bond with the hero’s journey. In the petal format, we get this magnified with multiple heroes, multiple stories.
When people buy on Amazon, most of them read the reviews before they buy.
Those reviews, those experiences, confirm our decision so we can comfortably make the purchase.
The petal story format is those reviews assembled into a single overarching story.
We can’t make medical claims with CBD or alternative health.
However, we can share testimonials…stories that real people share with us.
Those stories confirm the reader’s inclination to try your product or technique. Those testimonials become hero’s journeys.
A collection has amazing power and reaffirms the buying decision not once but multiple times.
Techniques for successful petal stories
As you look at reviews or customer stories you might use, here are three components to help you.
1. Pick your stories
You are looking for stories with a common thread. That should be your product or technique.
It will make sense to the reader when each story ties into exactly the same central theme.
Heros don’t need to be alike. Diversity is a benefit as it will help a wider range of prospects find the solution to a similar problem.
Think about people who have trouble sleeping. There are many causes of insomnia. But if using your product will help improve their sleep, you have the commonality.
You can say the same for post-workout pain.
Or morning small-joint arthritis pain.
Or feeling overwhelmed by stress or anxiety.
Look for the common thread that you’ll be able to weave as the center of your flower petal tapestry.
Pain, sleep issues, or stress/anxiety levels are common threads.
2. Flowers have more than one petal
When we think of a rose, daisy, daffodil or a shamrock…they all have many petals.
To form your petal story, you are going to need at least three stories that all tie to the same product.
If you were doing a seminar on pain and all the speakers were addressing pain, you might have many stories.
For a marketing article, three to five is a good number.
Like a girl’s skirt, the stories need to be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to be interesting.
If you tell them well, you won’t have to worry about your reader leaving.
3. Tell each story completely
For each of your stories, you want to follow the hero’s journey formula. (Please see my previous article.)
Tell about their life and limitations before they tried your product. What joys of life were they missing? What was their mindset? How did they feel?
Find the point at which they decided to do something and you have the commencement of the journey.
How did they find you? Did someone refer them? Trial and error? Did they have bad experiences prior to that which colored their decisions?
Follow their journey down the road of trials. Include wins, setbacks, mentors, and others that helped and supported them.
Share his experiences. How did he take it? Did he feel results immediately? Did it take a while? How long was his journey to feeling better?
As you move into Act 3, share your hero’s life after he has gained better sleep, less pain or reduced stress. Share what he is now able to do. His attitude and emotions…his joy.
Is he so excited that while he normally doesn’t write reviews, he couldn’t keep quiet? He had to speak up and help others.
Finally, tie it back into the product and prepare to share the next hero’s journey story experience.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Revisited
The movies were made from a series of young adult books enjoyed by many girls. They empathized with the angst of the teenage years and connected with the four girls.
They wanted to have the same experiences. To share the same strength of character.
There were actually multiple movies. They attempted to follow the complete series of books.
Despite their cult following, it was never a box-office blockbuster. But if you or a woman in your life needs a good chick- flick to destress…they are a great alternative to a hi-action thriller.
I find them an excellent example that I can share with my clients. I’ve used the sisterhood as a format to create strong compelling stories. Stories to share their products…and their brand.
If your stories aren’t getting the results you’d like, reach out and let’s take a quick look at them.
Judith Culp Pearson is a problem solver. She puts those problem-solving skills to work to help others. She loves to help people tell their personal stories, their product stories, and their client success stories.