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Using the Power of Storytelling to Get Your Marketing Heard


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If you want to get your prospective customers’ attention—and stand out in your marketplace—you need to tell your story in a way that’s compelling, relevant and meaningful for your prospects and customers (the power of storytelling). Otherwise, you’ll create marketing messages that your prospects simply tune out, making both you—and your products and services—invisible.

If you take the content of your typical communications—your emails, your website, your blog posts, one of your marketing brochures, a phone call or a face-to-face meeting—how much of that conversation is about you, your company, your product or service and the customer’s future outcomes?

Here’s why this is a problem: when you’re so focused on telling your story, you position yourself and your product as the hero of your story. This leaves your customer on the sideline as simply an observer of the story, not a participant in the story.

Using the Power of Storytelling to Get Your Marketing HeardYou can absolutely strengthen your marketing story by casting your customer as the hero. To really understand this, we need to look at story in and of itself, including how story is structured and why it’s so effective and meaningful.

I’d like to refer you to a book that was written by Joseph Campbell quite some time ago: The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which George Lucas cites as his inspiration for his Star Wars series. In this book, Campbell introduces what he calls the “hero’s journey.”

The basic structure of the hero’s journey is this:

The journey starts in a time when the world is normal. If we think about the Star Wars movies, Luke Skywalker is working on his farm with his aunt and uncle. He’s living his day-to-day life. But then something changes. This little droid shows up with this video of Princess Leia, who’s in trouble. She’s making a plea to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

So something changes in Luke’s world and turns things upside down. Luke struggles. He doesn’t know what to do.

Then, all of a sudden, a mentor shows up: Ben Kenobi, who we all know to be Obi-Wan Kenobi. And that mentor helps Luke bring some clarity to his life. He also gives Luke some purpose and focus and equips him to be successful in this journey.

So then Luke, our hero, accepts the quest and goes on a journey. In the process, he transforms himself and his world. The world is a better place as a result of that journey.

This is a typical framework for a story, whether it’s a verbal story, a written story, a movie or a play on Broadway.

The reason this is important is that it brings us to the question about the hero of your story.

To answer that question, let’s take a look at another Star Wars character: Yoda. Luke’s first mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is gone. And our hero, Luke Skywalker, is still struggling. He’s trying to get clarity to face off against this dark, evil foe, Darth Vader and the Empire. And along comes this mentor, Yoda. Like Obi-Wan, Yoda brings Luke clarity and equips Luke to be successful.

So here’s my question: In your story, are you Luke Skywalker or are you Yoda?

Most of the messages I see out there today cast your company as Luke Skywalker, the hero.

Here’s why this is a problem: you are not Luke Skywalker.

You are Yoda; the mentor who is helping your customers be successful. They struggle and resist their situation. They’re floundering. They need a solution to their problem. You enter as the mentor. You help them get clarity and you equip them to be successful. They accept that quest and you help them grow. In doing so, you bring value to them in some important way.

This is really a mindset change. You have to shift your thinking. Instead of casting your product as a hero of the story, you need to cast your customer as the hero of the story.

Start casting your customer as the hero today. Pick one of your marketing pieces—a page on your website, a sales email—and see whether it’s written around your product or around your customer. Try changing some of that product-centric language to “you”-centric language, modeling the example above, and I guarantee you’ll see a difference in your response rates.

Casting your company as the hero of your story is just one of the 6 deadly marketing mistakes I’ve encountered when working with my clients. Discover the other 5 mistakes—along with a set of practical strategies for creating marketing that gets results.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Are you casting your customer as the hero in your corporate story? How do you think this shift would impact your marketing and your results? Leave me a comment below.

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