“What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely. From an acting point of view, that’s how I approached the part.”
Christopher Reeve said this quote, in my opinion, the best Superman we have ever had. He acted as a hero even after an accident left him paralyzed until his death. I believe he played his Superman role better as a human than as a fictional character.
Now, let me ask you this: Does your business have a hero? Someone to look up to and praise as magical and divine? Do you look up and know exactly why you are serving your market, and why you are pursuing your goals?
Is your customer your true Hero? Your customers are the engine that drives any business, the core, the one an only, the reason you are existing and the reason you will create, destroy and make new products.
If you have not done so already, check out my previous two articles published in The Startup, that link to the sequence of the Hero’s Journey:
- Create your Avatar: Choose wisely, your target audience is out there somewhere
- Empathy Map for Business: What is an Empathy Map, and why is it valuable for your business?
The dictionary defines Heros as:
a :a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
b: an illustrious warrior
c: a person admired for achievements and noble qualities
d: one who shows great courage
In other words, Customers, clients, consumers, shoppers, buyers, call them any name you want, they are your Hero, and if they are not, they should be.
Back in the early 1940’s, Joseph Campbell popularized the monomyth or hero’s myth patterns, in his book — The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) in 17 stages — Which defined how a person undergoes a specific sequence of events that transform their lives and ends up addressing their inner potential to become a hero.
All movies go through this sequence of events, from Star Wars, the Matrix, Cinderella, Avatar, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings to Finding Nemo and so on, you get the point. Trust me; you will never watch a movie the same once you understand the patterns applied to entertain and inspire you, sorry about that!
Christopher Vogler developed a condensed 12 step version of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth while he was working at Disney and Vogle’s was the first one to call it the Hero’s Journey. A sequence present in most Movie narratives and one you are all very familiar with.
Even though there are different interpretations of the hero’s journey, some more complex than others, I am going to walk you through the visual Nancy Duarte included on her fantastic book Resonate.
The Hero’s Journey is broken into 12 stages and two main areas. The top area is the Ordinary world where our hero lives his everyday life. The bottom part is the extraordinary world, or the new world revealed before their eyes where the adventure and the transformation take place.
Let’s break down the stages. (get some coffee, tea, beer, anything you wish, the transformation is always painful!) I am a Matrix fan, so I will use the movie as an example.
1. The Ordinary World
The Hero is introduced to their Ordinary world. They have limited awareness of the problem ahead of them. In The Matrix we are introduced to Neo, living in a world, he does not fit in, doing a job he is not happy, leading a double life as an average person and as a hacker.
2. Call to Adventure
The Hero has an increased awareness of the situation regarding the quest ahead. Neo receives a message from his computer screen talking about the matrix “Follow the white rabbit.”
3. Refusal of the Call
The Hero is now presented with the situation and asked to embrace the quest. The refusal of the call becomes prominent when the hero refuses to leave the comfort zone in seek for adventure. Neo talks to Trinity about the Matrix, but is not convinced and believes it was all a dream.
4. Meeting with the Mentor
The hero has to overcome reluctance to change and open their minds to new possibilities. Neo meets Morpheus. Morpheus offers him to take the blue pill or the red pill; he has to choose. Live the life he had or find out the truth about the Matrix.
5. Crossing the Threshold
The hero needs to commit to change. They are bound to whatever happens and decide to act. Neo chooses to take the red pill and wake up from the matrix to discover his new reality. There is no turning back; now the hero is faced with an ordeal hard to overcome.
6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
They begin to experiment with change. Neo meets the team, he is trained and faces the first battle with Morpheus to understand and learn to control his new abilities. He is faced with new challenges and needs to adjust to his new found reality.
7. Approach the Inmost Cave
The hero prepares himself for their most significant change yet. The Oracle tells Neo that he or Morpheus will die, he has to choose who lives. Neo needs to make a decision and begins to doubt himself.
The hero is faced with their biggest challenge; this is the middle of the story, where the plot thickens. In the Matrix, Neo and his team are ambushed in an old apartment building where they almost get killed by the agents. In this stage is where the hero realizes his potential and starts to believe.
9. Reward (seizing the sword)
The hero has endured death and now realizes that he can seize the sword. Neo feels guilty for allowing the agents to capture Morpheus and decides to enter the Matrix to rescue him, risking his life.
10. Road Back
Trying to escape the Matrix, Neo is killed by Agent Smith. Here is where we see the resurrection of the hero; destroying the old self and allowing the new one to be born, stronger and wiser.
Our Hero faces the final attempt to leap, to change. Trinity tells Neo that she loves him and he comes back to life. Neo can see the Matrix and control every aspect of it. He can now stop bullets and kills Agent Smith. Neo is the ONE.
12. Return with the Elixir
Neo calls the Matrix through the analog phone and claims victory, humans over machines and the movie ends leaving us with a character who has transformed from ordinary to a Hero.
We can see how the Hero’s Journey can apply to any movie. It is philosophical, but also it is logical to us. That is why movies that do not follow the hero’s journey are not very entertaining or lack substance.
The same happens when we market products. Some ideas are great, but the marketing is faulty or misleading, causing us to get confused on the message and making the decision not to buy.
A simple message that conveys a real story will be something we identify with, it is aspirational, and we are drawn to these stories, slogans or tv ads.
So can we apply the hero’s journey to any product or service?
When selling, we need to understand that our clients may be reluctant to buy, to change their existing brand or they may be wanting to go into a new adventure with a new product but need your marketing to convince them to do so.
We identify with everyday life examples, we identify with pain points we may suffer or have suffered. Here is your chance to shine, to be the mentor and walk the customer through the journey with your product.
How many times have you detected that your customers do not understand your product, while others get it from the start?
These heroes, your customers, are facing their own hero’s journey with your product and services. Some may be returning with the elixir, others are reluctant to change, or have refused the call.
Make an effort to detect where your customer is on the hero’s journey and reap the benefits of your marketing strategy.
If you can detect where your clients are on the hero’s journey, you can begin to change the way you communicate, and slowly integrate new tactics and strategies to position your product with your customer.
At our company (Yumiwi: Event Marketing Platform) we have defined our Heros as agencies and brands in the event space. We have become mentors to many top companies seeking help in digitalizing the event industry, thus bringing them closer to their attendees.
Now brands will benefit their attendees by providing better events. For the brands, attendees have become their heroes, and for the attendee, brands are their mentors.
We have identified that some of our clients were in stage One: Limited awareness of their problem — The ordinary world. They had no clue that they were missing out on the use of new technologies for their events.
So we taught them, we sent content to them to make sure they were not missing out on digitalizing their events, allowing them to have the ability to earn more insights about their customers.
Some are now in stage 3 (reluctant to change). These clients know they need new technology for events but are not very keen on implementing it, they need to make the jump to make a leap.
We offer these clients a free pilot to test what we can accomplish together and have them try, risk-free, the new technology that can make them a hero inside their company.
Others are in the Ordeal stage where they have tried other technologies and failed miserably. We need to change that state by educating them in what they have done wrong and how they can improve to be more productive and efficient.
We even have some clients that all they need is to deploy the technology. We identify these customers to be in the resurrection stage.
Become a Mentor!
All your clients will fall in one of the 12 stages in the hero’s journey. Your goal is to identify them and adjust your marketing message, your promotional strategy or your tone to transform all your clients — or at least most of them — into heroes.
Your clients will feel rewarded, treated with respect and trust and as heroes, allowing them to recommend, rate and talk wonders about your product or service.
All heros, have mentors: Luke Skywalker had Yoda; Neo had Morpheus, Bilbo Baggins had Gandalf. We all need that one real force to make us believe that it is possible to achieve the unquestionable and the unknown.
Your content should be their mentor. How you teach them about the importance of your product and service will be critical in increasing your sales.
Be a mentor to them, help them understand how their lives will be more comfortable and more productive by using your product and services
Buying a product is a state of mind, fine-tune your message to make the sell a reality.
Good luck Morpheus!
Have an awesome life!
All movies go through this sequence of events, from Star Wars, the Matrix, Cinderella, Avatar, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Finding Nemo and so on, you get the point.
Here is an infographic that illustrates the Hero’s Journey by Venngage.