Most marketing doesn’t work.
It’s tragic, but it’s true. Most businesses don’t see the return on investment they’re hoping for.
One of the primary reasons for this is that these businesses — or the marketing teams they hired — think they’re the star of the show. They wrongly believe people are buying their products because of how amazing the company is.
So they launch ad campaigns that set the company as the hero coming to save the day.
And they lose millions.
The problem with this is that your customers aren’t living that story. They’re living their own story.
In your customer’s story, they’re the hero.
Think about your own life. You wake up and you have goals you want to accomplish, problems to solve, issues to fix. You live your story through your own eyes. You’re the main character.
The same is true in your customers’ lives.
When you talk about how great you and your company are and how difficult your journey has been or how you’re moving up in the world, they check out. That’s not the story they’re living so they have no reason to be interested.
Instead of competing with our customers for the role of hero, it is our responsibility to empower them to be the best hero they can be.
This is what sets great companies apart. They do not engage with their customers to see how much money they can make. Great companies know their primary responsibility is to help their customers win the day.
They could have talked about how cool their headphones are. They could have shown images of their headphones at all sorts of different angles and described the incredible noise-canceling technology. But they didn’t.
They simply showed you how you can “hear what you want.” You can drown out the haters and get motivated to conquer your challenges.
Help your customer win the day
In a story, the character that helps the hero win the day is called the Guide. This is Yoda and Obi-Wan in Star Wars. It’s Morpheus in The Matrix and in Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok it’s T’Challa and Thor’s fathers.
I believe it is the responsibility of leaders and brands to be Guides. It is our responsibility to help our customers win the day.
That’s where your products and services come in. They’re like Batman’s utility belt. It doesn’t make him a hero, it provides him with the tools he needs to win the day.
Your customers already know they are the heroes. They live every day as the main character of their life. You don’t have to tell them.
What they don’t know is if you know what they’re going through.
Every hero has a deep desire, something they want. But some problem is getting in their way. It’s preventing them from getting what they want.
That’s why they’re on your website. They’re looking for a solution. The quickest way to their heart is to tell them you know what they’re going through. You can do this in two ways.
Here are three strategies from a StoryBrand Guide you can use to help your customers feel like heroes. And, ultimately, grow your business.
1. Tell them you know what they want
Think about the life your customers will have after they use your product or services. That’s what they’re really after. Do you sell a drill? Help your customers imagine the things they can build. Do you sell a wasp killer? Help your customers see how safe their yard will be.
When people see that you understand their deepest desires—the reason they’re seeking a solution to their problem, the life they want to live—they connect with you and trust you to help them solve their problem.
2. Talk about the problem they’re experiencing
The only reason anyone comes to your website is that they’re looking for a solution to a problem.
Most companies don’t talk about the problem they solve. This leaves their customers without context and without a connection.
Solutions don’t simply exist. They exist to solve something. A solution without a problem isn’t a solution. It’s meaningless.
However, when you talk about the problem your product or service solves, it has context. And your customers bond with you. They say, “Wow! They know what I want! And they know what I’m going through! They understand my problem, so they must know how to solve it.”
When you talk about the problem your customers are living with (and looking for a solution to) they connect with you and trust you to solve their problem.
3. Tell them how you help them solve their problem, through their eyes
Every business has a sob story about how hard it was to get started or how many hours it took to design the perfect product.
Your customers don’t care about your story.
When it comes to you, your customers want to know if they can trust you. That’s it. Do they care about all the tears you cried developing your product? Nope. It doesn’t matter to them.
What matters is this: can you solve their problem?
Most companies talk about their products as if it’s the customer’s job to solve the company’s problem—increased revenue. This kind of thinking leads to product descriptions that do nothing more than tell the customer how cool the company is.
We want to avoid that.
Change your mindset to change your marketing.
To begin, we need a different mindset. Your customers don’t come to you to help you solve your revenue problem. Instead, you offer a valuable solution to your customers that helps them solve their problem.
Your product descriptions should talk about your products as solutions to your customers’ problems. Here’s an example:
“Do you struggle to keep your breath smelling great throughout the day? Our all-natural mouthwash distributes enzymes throughout your mouth that eat bad-breath bacteria and keep your breath smelling great for 36 hours!”
See how the focus stays on the user? It tells them what they get rather than telling them how cool the product is. (FYI, I made this product up. I don’t know if this is possible, but it sounds good!)
Focus on what the user gets, not on what you provide.
It might feel like splitting hairs, but it’s an important distinction. When you tell your readers what they get, how it helps them solve their problem, and how it makes their life better, they buy more.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of marketing ourselves and our companies as the hero. After all, we live as the hero in our own story!
But when pull our head out of our story and consider the story our customers are living, we create an opportunity to build a relationship with them we would otherwise miss out on.
When we take on the role of the guide we are able to lift up our customers as heroes. And they welcome it! They feel supported and empowered to conquer the problems they’re experiencing. Which means they engage with you more and you grow your business.
To your success,
StoryBrand Certified Guide
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