Problem – Proof – Picture – Path (PPPP)

Use this formula to draft a powerful story to show your customers where your brand will take them.
Gavin Hammar
January 13, 2022

When to use

Use this formula to produce a well-structured story that positions you as the guide and paints a vivid picture of where you'll take the hero – your customer.

What you'll need

You'll need a notebook or a note-taking app. I also recommend having a good understanding of your company vision and mission.

The Steps

1. Prep

Open your notebook or your note-taking app. On a blank page, write the following words, making sure to leave enough room to jot down points below each one:

  • Problem
  • Proof
  • Picture
  • Path

2. Problem

Almost all good brand stories start with a problem. Since this story will be used to convey thought leadership and attract a following based on your brand's beliefs, it's important that you make a bold claim here. The goal is to attract their attention and pique their interest.

PromptWhat obstacle are you seeing that is preventing your potential customers from achieving their goals? This obstacle should be something you're able to help them overcome.
ExampleAds and sales pitches are no longer effective.

3. Proof

Now that you've made a bold claim, can you back it up with some proof?

If the purpose of this story is to build your personal brand then I suggest using this section to give it a human touch by sharing first-hand experience. Alternatively, you can include a statistic that backs up your claim.

PromptCan you share a personal experience or some statistics that back up your claim?
Example 1I don't know about you, but I have an ad blocker installed. And, I can't remember the last time I spoke to a sales person. I'm not the only one, 27% of your potential customers are doing the same.
Example 227% of American internet users block ads and 9 out of 10 people have a negative perception of sales people.

4. Picture

Now, paint a picture that shows the reader, listener, or viewer how their life could be different. This is a version of the promised land that you intend to lead them to. Your picture should be specific and realistic.

PromptCan you paint a picture of what a world looks like without this problem? Start your sentence with: "Imagine a world where..."
ExampleImagine a world where you don't have to pay Google or Facebook to bring you new customers. And you don't have to hire any sales people. A world where your customers come to you – ready to buy.

5. Path

Lastly, give your audience a path to get there. This is where your role as guide comes into play. Show them how you can lead them to the promised land. The journey you’re promising to take them on should be logical and believable. It should instil them with trust.

PromptHow can you or your company help your customers turn the picture you painted into reality?
ExampleAt Storyprompt, we believe that trust-based marketing is the solution and we're creating a movement. With trust-based marketing, rather than exposing people to pushy ads and sales pitches, businesses capture the stories that convey trustworthiness and infuse them into every stage of their customer's journey. Storyprompt helps small businesses like yours attract new customers by easily sourcing, capturing, and sharing the stories that earn their trust.

Wrapping up

All great brands are able to identify a major shift in the world. They show their customers how their products and services can lead them through this change by painting a vivid picture of where it can take them.

The P-P-P-P formula is a fantastic way to convey your "Why" by telling a story that positions you as the guide and invites your customers to accompany you on a life-changing journey.

Gavin Hammar

Founder & former CEO @Sendible (acquired in 2021). Now building Storyprompt to help small businesses accelerate sales by amplifying the stories that earn their buyers' trust.

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