It’s an easy mistake to make.
Especially when you’ve got some of the biggest brands in the world doing it, too. (Take AT&T, for example.)
And there are SO many business coaches out there telling you you’re a rockstar. A phenomenaut.
In short, a hero.
That you’re The One the world’s been waiting for. Or at least the One-Who-Will-Create-Epic-Content — the kind which inspires readers to make big changes in their lives (thereby, saving the world).
And of course, you may very well be doing exactly that.
But I have some news for you…
In the storytelling that is the marketing of your business, you are NOT the hero.
Even if you’re doing amazingly epic things.
Look at this way: Your business is a story.
It has characters: A hero and at least one villain.
It has a mentor. Perhaps a side-kick, or two.
And it has its own landscape.
The hero of the story isn’t you. It’s your customer.
She’s the protagonist. The one with a mission that she’s working hard to accomplish.
And there’s a villain (or three) who keep getting in her way. (Do you know what/who they are?)
You, my dear, play the role of her mentor.
You’re Yoda to her Luke Skywalker. Glinda to her Dorothy. Morpheus to her Neo.
And yes, as the mentor, that means you were once the hero of your own story. (Your backstory needs to be told, but it should stay mostly on the About Page of your website.)
The bulk of your marketing needs to put the hero (your client) front and center.
How do you do that?
First: You get to know her — inside and out.
Gather your research into a profile (I like to call this the Heroic Character Sketch).
What are her quirks? Her back story? What was the inciting incident that turned her into a hero? (This is the spider-bite episode — the thing that set her on her path.)
How does she make decisions? What skills does she lack? Where does she hang out?
Write down everything you know about her (and continue to discover along the way).
Then, you craft stories (aka content) that feature snippets of her life.
This allow her to connect and identify with the messages you’re sharing.
If you’ve done your homework, you’ll even know which story type she relates to most.
This part is crucial: share your most empowering marketing messages with her.
(Not fear-based ones that play on her insecurities and make it look like you are her last and only hope.)
Show her how your tools and wisdom might assist her in her quest.
Don’t tell her that you’re going to swoop down and make everything a-ok.
(You’re not her mommy. You’re her mentor.)
And when she’s ready, she’ll take your advice.
In the end, her success is the result of her hard work. Not yours.
Your turn: Who do you see telling great marketing stories that feature their Heroic Clients? What questions do you have about how to implement? Share with us in the comments and let’s dive deeper.
The other piece to this is that Yoda didn’t go looking for Luke. Luke came to him. Yoda just kept on being awesome at being Yoda.
This is a super perspective. I really love the idea of storytelling like this where you think of those challenges as villains. In marketing-ese you’re always told to “find the pain points” and “figure out what problem your product/service solves”. But isn’t that always so clinical and really hard for people to do? It’s pretty vague and requires a whole lot of parsing. But now you start to think of those problems as villains and voila! You can relate. You have a hook to start thinking about the marketing-ish “buyer’s journey”. Framing it this way makes it so much more fun and relatable. And to touch on Lisa’s point that coincides with your ending… when someone is ready, they’ll find you. You can’t run around like hire me, hire me, hire me! I know how to do everything! There’s an art to letting people sell themselves 🙂 And I think it’s called storytelling!
Thank you for saying, Carol Lynn! Yes, the reframe is SO crucial for folks whose eyes roll back in their heads every time they hear the jargony explanation of what they need to do to market themselves.
Great insight! I think I’m trying too hard to convince my clients (well, really myself) that I am qualified to “help” them. I’ve seen website with lists of “why you should hire me” that simply extol the abilities and virtues of the person selling their services. They are the protagonist, with the client being put in the role of the “damsel in distress.” I don’t want to tell that kind of story. The reason I succeed in selling books in the large retail bookstore I work at is because I am enthusiastic about the books I recommend. With my intended home business, I am trying to do the same for self-published authors. I need to demonstrate at least as much enthusiasm for their book(s) as I do for the books I sell in my brick-and-mortar store for authors I’ve never met.
Yes, Connie! You want to always stay connected to that enthusiasm about what you’re selling — the good that it does for people. That love-energy is so important when telling a good story about how your clients are succeeding. Much more effective than listing your credentials.
Several folks on social media have asked for examples of how to best pull this type of marketing off. My first bit of advice: think case study. Tell stories that put your Ideal Client front and center. The case study is one of the easiest and best ways to do just that. If you’d like more (fun) examples of how to do this well, take a look at the following commercials…(all of which also employ EMOTION to connect):
This one features a spokeswoman speaking directly to the prospective customer, but in a way that says “you and I are the same and have the same problem.” Also, it’s hilarious, so bonus points for that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKLnhuzh9uY
This one features a personified villain (Mayhem) speaking directly to the prospective customer, showing exactly how “he” will impact your life. Of course you’re empowered to combat his antics by buying the insurance product: http://youtu.be/K0TFo8NsCt4
Something a little more direct (in terms of storytelling) features actual customers and how their lives have changed or been made easier by using XYZ…
‘This is the spider-bite episode’. This line alone has set me on a whole new path toward ‘case-studies’, although that word probably needs rethinking now too. I love how you reframe whole aspects of this industry we’re in Tea. And that you validate every step of the way the power of story. There have been so many great examples recently of big brands getting story. Have you seen this one?