Creating Great Structured Story Content Marketing


Content Marketing School: Sex and Violence – the Keys to Great Content Creation
By, Carl Hartman. President, Brand.gineering.org

After numerous seasons of Mad Men on A&E, you probably said “Ah ha! I knew sex sells!” But, even Mad Men ad man Don Draper said in the first season of the hit show on AMC, that people believing that sex and violence sells are the cheap admen.

Instead of sex or violence, let’s talk about passion and tension. Passion can easily be a little girl and boy holding hands while walking down a country road in a Norman Rockwell Coca-Cola ad from the 1960’s or a product comparison of Coke versus Pepsi, which is great tension. Another way to think of passion and tension is sensuality and aggression or violence.

Again, I’ve probably got an entire group of people out there saying, “Carl, that is all good for television and the movies, but I can’t use sex and violence in my blog about widgets!”

Start adapting your mind, because you are wrong! After you grab a cup of coffee and settle down from me upsetting you, we can move on. I am assuming your hands have stopped shaking and you have calmed down, because storytelling conflict is all about passion or tension; that includes selling widgets.

In our previous articles we have discussed conflict in stories and its simplest form, contrast. This is the same concept, passion and tension is essential to developing conflicts in your content.


So, the simple passion of that little boy and girl holding hands, as I mentioned provides contrast and tension. Your customer harkens back to that time in their life with the butterflies in their stomach and it evokes and emotion. However, you can sell widgets with passion. Believe me, when that widget impacts someone’s life, you have passion. That can be the value of an insurance policy during the loss of a loved one or a husband supporting his wife during a weight loss program. And, my good friend Brian that was a Mr. Universe assures me that sex is amazing when you are really fit. New fire hydrants in a community can change a lifestyle of a growing family. How big does my picture need to be?


Product comparisons provide instant tension, but if you are creative you can create tension in other ways. What about the tension of a client that had to meet a deadline or solve a problem and your company came to the rescue. Watch any DIT program on HGTV; when the cement truck does not arrive in time or the contractor finds a nest of bees in the wall, that is tension. Aggression is as simple or complex as you want it to be. I would caution against attacking your competition or starting a bar fight.

All of my articles have used these techniques in some way and I have purposely removed a complex story element from this blog.

Always find a way to use sex and violence or passion and tension in your content. Even the best and simplest instructional video or slide show can use these elements to create conflict or interest. As you advance, using these techniques in customer interactions works great; pulling that attractive woman out of the audience during a sales demo or appropriately playing on the emotions of one of the men in the room over a recent football game is all connected to passion and tension. Use it!


Carl Hartman is a former executive with a major American television network, reality television producer and co-founder of Brand.gineering. His best-selling book Brand.gineering: A 14-Step Powerful & Profitable Brand Development Blueprint for the Digital Marketing Age, is available exclusively on Amazon.