In this issue:

  • What’s missing in B2B content.
  • A framework for discovering intent
  • The state of content marketing
  • A customer persona workbook
  • Dan Levy stresses the importance of word choice

Let’s go!

Top of mind:

A story is made of two elements: objectives and conflicts. A character wants something; something gets in their way.

Konstantin Stanislavski, the father of method acting, says to get to the heart of a character, you must understand their Super Objective: the simple, singular goal that drives their decisions throughout the entire story.

The Super Objective provides narrative consistency as it governs the character’s internal logic from scene to scene, no matter how random their actions seem to outsiders.

Let’s use “Lord of The Rings” to demonstrate.

Frodo’s Super Objective is to destroy the One Ring in Mount Doom.

This objective shapes every aspect of his journey, informing his decisions, reactions, and growth. The Super Objective is not just a destination but a journey in itself, encompassing his emotional and psychological evolution.

To realize his Super Objective, Frodo must overcome various conflicts and achieve a series of smaller, yet significant goals, each acting as a stepping stone towards one final act.

These include:

  • Leaving the safety and familiarity of the Shire
  • Forming alliances – like the members of the Fellowship
  • Braving the dangers of Middle Earth

The Super Objectve ensures that no matter how varied the character’s behaviors, they are all unified under a single, identifiable purpose.

I bring this up because I think we B2B writers lose sight of our reader’s Super Objective. We get so caught up in the details that we often forget the one blog post they’re reading is a small part of a larger story.

Consider the query “how to get podcast sponsors.”

Is the aim simply to find sponsors, or is this search part of a broader Super Objective where the reader is looking to monetize their podcast? The true scope is likely much wider than a single key phrase.

Yes, the one blog post should address the immediate want (strategies for finding sponsors) but it should also acknowledge the greater need (monetizing the podcast) and consistently reference additional considerations like determining the podcast’s value, crafting pitches, navigating sponsor agreements, and exploring alternative revenue streams, giving the reader a reason to go one click deeper or return later.

This approach creates more depth within a single article because it empathizes with the complexity of their journey, offering a variety of resources rather than isolated advice.

Without the reader’s Super Objective to unite everything, we end up with is a mix of seemingly unrelated headlines.

To show you what I mean, I asked ChatGPT to create a reading list Frodo could use to navigate the major plot points of The Fellowship of The Ring.

Let's say Frodo from "The Lord of the Rings" was preparing for his entire journey to destroy the one ring by reading blog posts. What are the titles of blog posts he might read that correspond with the main narrative points of The Fellowship of The Ring?

  • Choosing the Right Gear for Long Journeys: Essential Tips for Hobbits
  • Secrets of the Old Forest: Navigating Mythical Landscapes Close to Home
  • The Art of Evading Black Riders: Tips for Stealth and Safety on the Road
  • Hospitality in Strange Lands: A Traveler’s Experience in Bree
  • Choosing Your Companions Wisely: Forming Trustworthy Teams
  • Mountain or Mines? Decision-Making in Dire Situations
  • Lessons from Lothlórien: Embracing Change and Wisdom on Your Journey
  • Navigating Group Dynamics: When Paths Diverge
  • Facing Your Fears: Confronting Personal and External Challenges
  • Saying Goodbye: The Art of Parting with Friends

Really read those headlines.

If you didn’t know the plot, at face value, they have nothing in common.

Unrelated headlines are ok, but if we fail to connect them to the Super Objective within the body and treat each post as a standalone narrative, Frodo has to work 10 times harder to get what he needs to complete his journey.

However, if we keep the Super Objective at the forefront as we plan and create, we can show Frodo, *ahem* our reader, that we understand the bigger picture and can help him overcome the inevitable obstacles that get in the way.

Which brings us to the counterbalance of the Super Objective and the star of this series:

Enter the Super Conflict

What Stanislavski doesn’t talk about is what I call The Super Conflict: the universal headwind that works against our character as they work toward their goal.

If the Super Objective guides the character’s actions over the course of the story, then the Super Conflict is the universe’s natural response to those actions and tests their resolve.

To visualize this, let’s go back to Robert McKee’s three levels of conflict from the last issue.

Robert Mckee's three levels of conflict. Extra-personal conflict (Individuals in society, social institutions, and physical environment) Personal conflicts (family, friends, lovers) and inner conflict (mind, body, emotions)

I like to think of the top layer – Extra-personal conflict — as the backdrop to the world.

Returning to our Lord of The Rings example: Frodo must deliver the One Ring to Mount Doom (Super Objective) but time and space are actively preventing him from doing so (Super Conflict).

Now, while McKee defines extra-personal conflict as the character’s physical environment, social institutions, or individuals in society, I’ve adapted it to include forces of nature, social roles, and ideologies, making it more pertinent to our daily work.

Consider these examples

Forces of nature: The economy, market fluctuation, deadlines.

Social roles: legal vs. marketing, regulators vs. sales, company vs. client.

Ideologies: attribution vs. creativity, conservative spending vs. strategic risks, leaders vs. managers.

In each of these, the Super Conflict often operates subtly, yet significantly, creating an undercurrent of tension and shaping the environment our readers navigate.

It’s not just the visible hurdles; it’s also the underlying attitudes, the closing windows of opportunity, and the pressures of looming deadlines that add urgency and depth to why our reader is spending time with us in the first place.

I think the reason a lot of B2B content rings inauthentic and disconnected from reality is that it fails to acknowledge these issues looming in the background.

It’s like telling Frodo, Gimli, and the rest of the Fellowship, “Now that you’re together, just drop The Ring in Mount Doom.” We know it’s not that simple – and the mere suggestion would only demonstrate how out of touch you are with Middle Earth.

This is where the second purpose of the Super Conflict comes into play. It not only provides a backdrop to our overarching editorial strategy, but it also leads us to an important realization: conflict inherently demands choosing a side.

In identifying extra-personal conflicts, we also uncover our reader’s biases and attitudes toward them, influenced by their own Ghosts, Lies, experiences, and perspectives.

For instance, in the ideological conflict between attribution and creativity:

Those who advocate for attribution emphasize the need to measure and replicate success in any creative campaign. On the other hand, proponents of creativity argue that too much focus on attribution can stifle innovation and reduce the chances of achieving something groundbreaking.

In recognizing and aligning our content with these stances, we do more than inform; we engage in a deeper conversation with our readers. This alignment ensures that our content is not just a collection of information but a part of a larger, more meaningful dialogue.

Every piece of content, infused with an understanding of these conflicts, becomes stronger, more relevant, and significantly more impactful.

Bringing it together

Good content is not just about what is said; it’s about how it resonates with the reader. It’s about creating a space where they can see their challenges reflected, their goals articulated, and their journey understood. It’s this understanding that keeps them coming back to seek guidance, insights, and a sense of connection.

The Super Objective and Super Conflict are not just narrative tools; they are the je ne sais quoi behind content that captures and retains attention; fostering a deeper, more meaningful relationship with our audience.

If you master these elements, you won’t just create content; you’ll create experiences – ones that inform, engage, and inspire your readers time and time again.

Want me to edit you?

Starting in 2024, I’m hosting a monthly writing workshop where we’ll explore the concepts through the lens of your work.
Join me, and a group of your peers live while I edit attendees work and discuss these concepts live.

What’s on our radar?

📝 Kevan’s brief encourages creativity

🕵🏻‍♂️ A framework for discovering search intent

😎 Ideal customer persona workbook

🤓 The state of content marketing report
🔥 Brand vs Performance marketing

Let’s get social

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2024 growth.

This post by John Bonini shares what he’s learned on his way to growing his newsletter to over 11,000 subscribers over the last year.

My favorite: “The habit of writing this newsletter has improved every other part of my business.”

This newsletter has helped me clarify my thoughts on multiple subjects, and while it hasn’t always been easy to get them out, it’s helped in articulating those thoughts offline as well.

From “The Vault”

Dan Levy was one of my most impactful editors.

In this article, he questions the author’s choice of metaphors, calls out redundant language, and discusses pacing which we don’t talk about often enough.

Watch him edit
Read the article

What are YOU working on?

Share with us the content you’ve been making so we can feature it in a future edition of The Studio Insider.

Show us what you’re working on!



See you in the next one ✌️

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Tommy Walker | The Content Studio

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