The observable problem about most marketing is that we have been making ourselves the subject of the story and not the customer. And so the message falls on deaf ears.
Most marketing messages make the brand the hero of the story and that’s where we get stuck. Our marketing message fails because the customer needs to be the hero of the story.
If you want to be the hero for your customers you have to be their guide, not hero.
In Star Wars lingo; your customer is Luke Skywalker and your brand is Yoda. Yoda is the most important person in Luke’s life because he shows him how to overcome obstacles and get what he wants.
You don’t want to be the hero of the story. The Hero is constantly getting his or her butt kicked. Be the guide instead.
But Don’t Take My Word For it
If you need advice on your heart, you see a cardiologist. When you need help with your marketing message, you go to the New York Times bestselling author and former screenwriter, Donald Miller.
Miller teaches that the biggest mistake businesses make is when most marketers give the business the hero roles of the story, instead of the customer.
Brands should play the role of the guide their customer needs. In turn, consumers come to view the business as the hero for guiding them on their journey.
A Harvard study found that people spend half of their thoughts just daydreaming (except during sex). People are stuck in the stories we believe.
Stories are how homo sapiens process information. We’re a story telling animal. That’s why marketers turn to stories for maximum impact.
Thus, the customer is the hero in their story and needs to be the hero in yours.
People want everything to be about them. Miller advises businesses to invite people to take a journey, rather than telling them ours.
WARNING. This will change how you communicate to your customer forever (in a good way).
Capture What Your Audience Feels Like
When we frame our solutions into a story, it allows us to capture the experience our audience is feeling. People don’t buy products. They buy the products they understand.
In Lisa Cron’s book, Wired For Story, she says that story was more crucial to our evolution than the opposable thumb.
Opposable thumbs let us hang on; stories tell us what to hang on to.
Story is what enabled us to imagine what might happen in the future, and to prepare for it. It’s a feat no other species can lay claim to; opposable thumbs or not.
To form a bond with customers, knowing what’s important to them is key.
Next, is to identify where those customers can be reached. Where do they spend their time online?
Then it’s important to develop the story, the type of content that speaks to them.
When people ask, “What do you do?” They are really asking:
- Does what you do matter to me?
- If so, why?
- What should I do about it?
A good guide understands their hero’s conflict and offers an alternative plan for dealing with it.
The only marketing strategy you need is to create a plan to help your customer overcome the obstacle in their way. Only then, they will connect with the story we’re telling them.
Only then, they will see visions of the brighter future we offer them.
If we can identify the internal frustration our audience feels, write it into words, and offer to resolve it, then something special happens, magic. We bond with our customers. They feel understood. They engage with the rest of our message in a more meaningful way.
But before we can identify what our audience is dealing with, we need to ask the following questions…
10 Questions to Help You Understand Your Customer Better
- What tasks does your customer dread doing, as it relates to your industry?
- What is your customer’s ultimate dream? What do they want to accomplish?
- What confuses your customer, as it relates to your industry?
- What keeps your customer up at night?
- What makes your customer upset or angry?
- How would your customers life look differently if they had more leisure time?
- What regrets does your customer have as it relates to your industry?
- What makes your customer feel embarrassed or self-conscious?
- How does your customer want their friends to perceive them?
- What makes your customer nervous as it relates to your industry?
Great Brands Sell Stories, Not Stuff
We don’t buy fortune cookies to eat them; we buy the stories inside them, even though the story is far more powerful than the cookie.
What message should we really tell our customers? It’s not like we’re reading them a book, but it’s how to craft a message the way humans think – in story form. When people realize they are at a point where they need help, they ask themselves the following questions.
- What is the conflict I am confronting?
- What different outcome do I really want?
- Which guide can I turn to and trust to help me achieve my dreams?
Humans understand conflict. With the exception of lawyers, the majority of the human species hate it.
We want to avoid conflict and look for tools to solve conflict. Most businesses talk about what they sell, not which internal conflict people need resolved.
But as everything else in life, it’s a lot easier said than done…