When I first started in marketing I thought that the goal was to simply get a product in front of an audience as often as possible. Why wouldn’t someone want to buy what I had to offer? I knew that it was quality and would add value to their lives and isn’t everyone looking for (fill in the blank)? As I’ve grown in my marketing positions I’ve learned a lot. Most importantly that your product isn’t what a customer is buying. They’re buying a story, an emotion, a future them. Your customer want’s to be taken on a journey, one that’s clear and easy to understand and paints a picture of just what will happen to them when they buy from you. They want to be a part of your hero’s journey.
If this sounds familiar, it should. The hero’s journey is ancient tool used for storytelling, writing, and now marketing. Storybrand, a marketing workshop, has even built a business around teaching brands how to use this tool in their marketing with the catchphrase “When you confuse you lose”.
The Hero’s Journey in 6-Steps
The hero’s journey is simple
- You start with the hero – your customers.
- They face a problem where they will need to embark on a journey to their best self. This is more than not having a toothbrush and needing one, it’s an emotional or philisphoical issue.
- Once they start on this journey they meet the guide–YOU– who helps them navigate how to get from here to there.
- You’ll show them a roadmap of 3-4 steps they have to take to find their best self.
- Of course, they’ll need to know what happens if they don’t finish this journey. What potential failure sit in front of them?
- But instead, by finishing this journey with you, they’ll get the happily ever after they deserve.
See how simple that is? Just think of every great movie, book, or play that’s ever been written. It follows this exact layout (albeit more complicated an a lot longer). This is how we market to your customer.
Know The Hero – Customer Profile
You start with knowing your hero or customer, inside and out. This isn’t just the basic demographics of serving mostly females from 20-50. That’s great an all, but it doesn’t create a clear picture. And we’re going for clear here. We’re wanting to create a story and that character you described to me could be 1/4 of the population. So instead, dive deeper into your hero. Really describe who they are and what they’re like. Start with these questions:
- Where do they live?
- What car do they drive?
- Where do they shop?
- What do they do in their free time?
- What are they passionate about?
- Do they care about sustainability and fair trade products?
- What are their favorite brands?
You could go on and on with this. If you want even more questions to dive into your client profile, download my client profile. Because we’re talking about characters here, we can take this a step further and even decide on an archetype that fits your client. While I won’t get into the specifics here, there are at least a hundred different archetypes that your customer could be. But to start you off, in this video I talk about the 12 main archetypes and how you can use these to get even more clear on whom your ideal client is.
Know Their Pain Points
It’s amazing to me how many times I’ll ask clients what their customer’s pain points are and they have no idea. Your audience purchases from you for a reason and it’s not because they just need a toothbrush. While we all need clean teeth, there are a million brands of toothbrushes out there. So how do you decide which one you will buy? Personally, I buy one that uses no plastic in the packaging or in the product itself. That limits me to about 2 brands at any given store (if that). But you also buy a toothbrush not just because you don’t want cavities, you buy a toothbrush to have fresh breath to impress your hot date. You have one to keep your teeth white so you look great for your engagement photos. A new toothbrush will keep your mouth healthy and provide better health for you and your family.
You see? All those reasons are why we buy a toothbrush and they start to resonate with us. You picture yourself in those moments, feeling those feelings and you think–Damn, I need a new toothbrush.
If you were selling a toothbrush and thought, people just need toothbrushes, you’re missing so much opportunity to connect with your audience. Their pain points are so much more than needing the physical product. What’s the emotional of philosophical reason behind the purchase? (Engagement photo or wanting to feel good about yourself)
To answer this question about your own audience, start with what people tell you about your product. Why do people love you? What do they say to their friends about you? Why did they start buying from you in the first place? Odds are, your customers have told you how you’ve solved their pain points. List them out and find the common ones that you can start speaking to.
Give Them A Plan
You know that I love a good plan. Call me type A or an Enneagram 3 (I’m both) but darling, I need a plan in life. So tell me how I get from this spot here, to the dream world you just created when you discovered my pain point. To use the toothbrush example, how do I get from nasty breath to ready for my date this weekend?
On your website, on social, or in any or your marketing materials you can layout the 3-4 steps it will take to achieve this visions.
- Pick your brush
- Brush 2x a day
- Follow up with our mouthwash
- Walk out your door with confidence
Yeah, it’s not a complicated map because buying a toothbrush isn’t hard. For my business, which is a little less straight forward I would market brand strategy like this:
- Sign up
- Get clarity + confidence in your brand
- Build lifelong customers
You just need a simple map so that people know where they’re going. Lay this out on your website so it’s easy to see. Talk about it on your social. Even share these steps with people you meet in person.
This one is everyone’s least favorite part of the marketing. It’s talking about the negatives.
I get it, you don’t want to bring your audience down. But humans are more likely to buy in order to avoid pain than to indulge in pleasure. That’s our nature. So you need to talk about the pain they’ll face by not buying from you brand. These failures can be directly related to the pain points you talked about at the beginning but we’re pointing them out as the negatives they are. In the case of the toothbrush you could avoid these failures:
- Missing out on the goodnight kiss at the end of your date because you had bad breath
- Looking back on your wedding photos and cringing when you see your teeth
- Knowing the medical bills could have been avoided if you’d just brushed 2x a day
You don’t need many of these and you don’t want to focus too heavily on the failures in your marketing. They’re the garnish, the icing on the cake. Thing about them as about 30% of the overall marketing, but remember that they are important and do need to be talked about. After all, you want to ensure that your customers have the best life possible, that means avoiding these failures and they need to know about them.
Using the Hero’s Journey in Your Marketing
So now you have your hero’s journey. The hero, the problem, the guide (you!), the plan, potential failures and their happily ever after. All of these components can be used in all your marketing. Focus on one at a time in your social or combine them all for a full story. Highlight the different elements on your homepage so that your customers know that you’re talking to them and they see themselves clearly.
Marketing is its own version of storytelling. Not to lie to people but to pain a picture of themselves that they can relate to. You as a brand want to make the world a better place. You’ve created a product that you know the world needs. Tell the story the will connect your audience to your products and you’re sure to build lifelong customers.