We all know that audiences love happy endings — so it’s no surprise that this year’s Oscar for Best Picture went to “Argo,” which told the story of how a handful of Americans were rescued from Iran during the turmoil after the 1979 revolution.

You’ll note that Ben Affleck chose to tell this small, feel-good story rather than the larger story of the 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days amid failed rescue missions, Olympic boycotts and other depressing events.

Indeed, Hollywood has a way of finding silver linings in even the most miserable realities — Schindler’s List focused on a small number of Jewish factory workers saved by a German businessman during the Holocaust, and Quentin Tarantino completely re-imagined both the Nazi terror and the horror of slavery by giving Jews and African-Americans their fantasy revenge on screen.

Content Marketing Goes Hollywood

So, what can marketers learn from the movies’ penchant for happy endings?

Let’s look at three common ingredients of successful Hollywood movies:

1. They are generally character-driven stories of good vs. evil, clearly set apart to comfort the audience.

2. They are often circular stories, where the hero faces a conflict or challenge, fails, and then ends up facing the same issue and overcoming it at the end.

3. They typically end not only happily, but with a powerful, unambiguous resolution that leaves no loose ends.

Applying these same elements to your content marketing program might look like this:

1. Make your customer the hero and their pain points the bad guys. The more clearly you draw this contrast between “good” and “evil,” the more dramatic your story will be.

2. Tell the story of your hero’s battle with pain points in a circular fashion; show how the customer faces the same challenge twice — first pre-solution, then post-solution.

3. Show an unambiguous resolution to the customer’s problem — e.g., “our solution reduced department costs by 47 percent.”

Gravitating Toward the Light

One screenwriter explains our penchant for Happily Ever After this way:

Audiences prefer happy endings. And why not? Who doesn’t like the sun? Who, honestly, doesn’t instinctively gravitate towards light, and warmth, and positive energy?

That’s also what your customers want, isn’t it?

And just as Hollywood bigwigs know to “follow the money” in choosing which scripts to green-light, so your content marketing strategy should, too.