How to Use a Beat Sheet to Create Valuable Marketing Content


One of the most successful storytelling structures content marketers use is based on the narrative storytelling format.

This format gives a rich opportunity to break down your writing into beats.

When writing is broken down into beats, we call it “creating a beat sheet.”

And, when used properly, beat sheets make it easier to produce well-thought-out content.

If you’re not familiar with the narrative structure, take a second to check it out.

All right, let’s continue on our beat sheet journey!

The first step is learning how to “drop a beat” … and no, we don’t mean rapping.

Dropping a beat simply means selecting the various plot points you’re going to use while telling your brand’s story through the content you create.

Keep reading, and we’ll show you the steps you need to take to build beat sheets for your content.

Lay Out Your Structural Beats

As a marketer or business owner, you know you could spend weeks generating ideas on how to tell the best story to represent your product or service. You also know that not every idea is as good on paper as it is in your head.

This is where the first step in creating a beat sheet comes in handy.

Take a handful of your favorite content storyline ideas and outline them as follows:

Opening – The opening beat establishes the base reality in your story. You need to write down who is in your story, where they are, and what is happening.

Turning Point – The turning point beat establishes what happens in your story that causes your audience to have a need for your product/service.

Mid-Point – The mid-point beat focuses on what raises the stakes. Why is your product/service the only thing now that can solve your audience’s problem?

Resolution – The resolution beat establishes how your story is going to come to a happy ending. It shows your product/service at work solving a problem for your audience.

Stop wasting valuable time muddling through ideas and lay out these structural beats.

Once you do, you’ll have a very clear picture of which storyline ideas are going to work best for your marketing content and which ideas just need to get thrown out.

Flesh Out Your Beats

Once you have a few solid storylines from the previous exercise, it’s time to start fleshing them out.

You do this by creating sub-beats to connect the 4 major beats you’ve already established. For example:

Opening beat – You’ve established that this beat focuses on a mom in a kitchen with a glass of juice.

Turning Point – You’ve established that a glass of juice is spilled all over the counter.

The setting and the problem are clear. But what caused the problem?

You need to create a sub-beat to connect the main ideas. When you create a sub-beat, it looks like this:

Opening beat –Mom is in a kitchen with a glass of juice.

Sub-Beat #1 – Son walks into kitchen and knocks over glass of juice with toy.

Turning Point – Glass of juice spills all over the counter.

Go through your entire story and connect all of your main beats with sub-beats.

The sub-beats add meat to your story and allow you to create a very focused content outline.

Please note that it is ok to add more than one sub-beat in between your main beats.

It’s your job to map out every beat necessary to provide smooth transitions in your content piece.

Once you’ve added the “meat” into your beat sheets, it will be much easier to tell which storyline you should use for your content idea.

Count Your Beats

Counting your beats is one of the most important parts of the beat sheet process. Now that you have all of your beats mapped out from start to finish you can look at your story as a whole.

Take note of your storyline’s beat proportions. They should be relatively balanced from beginning to end.

If your storyline is heavy with beats in one area, it’s probably a clue that you have too much going on and need to cut something.

On the other hand, if your story is light on beats, you’re probably missing important info that your audience needs in order to tell a good story.

A well-written beat sheet is a wonderful marketing tool to help you outline a successful storyline for your marketing content. Take advantage of them to help you make important creative decisions and help you stay focused on the direction your content is heading.

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