Structure

Before - After - Bridge (BAB)

Use the before - after - bridge formula for creating awareness about your product/service.
Masooma Memon
January 18, 2022

When to use

Use the before - after - bridge formula for creating instant awareness for your business. All stories – written, spoken, and video-based – can fit into this storytelling structure.

Why does it work? It taps into your audience’s imagination to help them understand how you can help.

From sales copy to short emails, the BAB Play is an uber-effective weapon to have in your storytelling toolkit.

Fun factThe BAB formula can help you tell effective stories even without words. For example, you can show before and after pictures of results your product/service accomplishes. For the bridge, share your business logo.

What you’ll need

Audience profile, notebook, sticky notes, and a wild imagination.

You can work on this Play both on your own or in collaboration with your team. All you need to be good at is tapping into your target people’s emotions and painting vivid mental pictures.

The Steps

1. Make notes

Crack open your notebook or a fresh Google doc – whatever your preference. Jot down your target audience’s struggle.

TipUnderstanding your audience’s pain points is essential to success with the before - after - bridge. Without it, your viewer/listener/reader won’t be able to connect with you in step one so you’ll lose them in a jiffy.

2. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes

Once you know what your audience struggles with, try to identify how it makes them feel – frustrated, lost, angry? Write these feelings down – one on each sticky note.

PromptTalk to your target customers. Ask them how struggling with a certain problem makes them feel. This will help you create an audience-resonating story.

Now, plan out how a solution would likely make them feel.

If you can, talk to your customers. Better yet, if you can get someone from your target audience, even if they’re someone from your team, to try your product/service. When they do, observe their reaction and ask them how it makes them feel.

Write these observations on sticky notes.

For example, for a DIY design tool, ask your teammate who aligns with your target audience’s description to create a simple graphic with the app. Watch them carefully as they use the app to record their reaction.

3. Visualize the ‘before’ and ‘after’ scenarios

With a strong grip on the struggles and accompanying feelings, plan how you’d visualize the problem and imagined solution to your audience.

So you’ll be working on two mental visuals here – whether created using written copy or shot for a video:

The ‘before' or the raw struggle.

For example, a user trying to send an overseas payment unsuccessfully. Their team’s waiting for them to join for lunch. But sending the payment is taking too long. Frustrated, they grind their teeth together and signal their team to eat without them.

The ‘after’ or the imaginary solution.

For example, the user sending overseas payments in one click. They grin and take a happy spirit to their team lunch.

Finding the best way to showcase the ‘before’ and ‘after’ situations can take a few attempts so don’t give up.

Once done, review your scenarios for effectively capturing all emotions before proceeding to work on the ‘bridge.’

Pro tipLook at the emotions you’ve captured on sticky notes to review your story. Make sure both the ‘before’ and ‘after’ scenes adequately capture all emotions.
Prompt (Before)Talk about the struggles your target audience is facing. These should be struggles they would've faced before discovering your product or service.
Prompt (After)Now, talk about how life could be for your customer if that problem could be solved.

4. Build the ‘bridge’

With emotions-evoking ‘before’ and ‘after’ sections, you’ll have successfully built intrigue. Your story’s consumers would now want to know how to reach the ‘after’ stage.

This is where the ‘bridge’ or your solution comes in.

For example, show your user’s screen with a prominent logo of your payment sending software and them sending payment with one click.

Try mixing the Play’s structure as Descript does in their intro video. They typically share scenes from ‘before,’ introduce the ‘bridge,’ and finally show how their app leads viewers to their (happy) ‘after.’ 

PromptThis is your chance to inspire them to join you on this journey. Talk about how your product or service can lead them to the promised land.
Pro tipTry sharing the ‘bridge’ from the get-go instead of waiting to share it after showing the ‘before’ and ‘after.’

Take a look at how Clickup shares the ‘bridge’ from the start of this video

TipFor such a twist to the BAB Play, keep things short and sweet so you don’t lose your audience’s attention.

Wrapping up

In summary, the before - after - bridge Play is one of the simplest and most effective ways of telling captivating stories. Use can even use it to create stories on the fly.

All you need to do is to walk your audience through their struggle and their happy life minus the struggle. Close it with the ‘how’ or the ‘bridge’ between the ‘before’ and ‘after.’

Masooma Memon

Masooma Memon is a freelance writer for B2B SaaS and ecommerce brands writing actionable content for clients like CoSchedule, Vimeo, and Databox. She's also an avid reader and shares content writing and marketing tips in her weekly newsletter, The Content Workshop.

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