Stop Playing the Hero

From the very first time the teacher called on us and said Now, Scott tell the class all about you we’ve been conditioned to talk about ourselves. Hey, we like us some…us, you know? And it’s comfortable to talk about ourselves because we are with us more than we’re with anyone else so we’ve got a good framework of knowledge going.

But…The only person who really cares all about us is us. My apologies to all the Simon Sinek disciples out there heartily pondering your “why,” but you need to save that for your memoirs or your company retreat t-shirts. Especially in marketing. In fact, one of the biggest problems I solve for companies is getting themselves OUT of the message.

To explain, let’s use the StoryBrand framework detailed in the best-selling book Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. Human beings are pretty self-centered creatures. Our brains just work that way. Don says the human brain wants to do two main things every second of every single day

1. Survive/Thrive
2. Conserve Calories

So the brain is constantly sorting through information and saying how does this help us? And if it sits in a conversation (or Zoom meeting) too long without hearing something of value it starts to shut down to conserve calories. That’s when we daydream and just think about other less calorie consumptive tasks. Our brains are smart that way.

Here’s why it matters. If your marketing message is all about you, then who is it NOT about? The audience. And when the audience notices that, you lose them — probably for good. You see, every single person is on their own hero journey and they are the STAR of the show (in their own minds). When you (the company or marketer) put yourself as the STAR, you realize pretty quickly that this isn’t an Avengers movie with an all-star cast sharing the spotlight nicely — the audience will jump bump us right out of the way.

In StoryBrand we encourage clients to instead play the “guide” role — for two big reasons.

1. The guide is THE strongest character in any story. (Think Obi Wan Kenobi vs. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars)
2. The guide prepares the hero to win the day (that’s what you really want)

So the next time you’re creating an e-mail, a social media post, a website, or any piece of marketing communications, consider backing off and letting your audience play the hero and you providing that guidance they need to triumph over evil…or bad plumbing…or whatever insidious form evil might take in THEIR lives.

That is real marketing storytelling. We always want to invite the audience into a story with us and we want them to play the role they were BORN to play — the awesome, amazing, oh my God you can SO win the day…. Hero. And doing that is one simple way to WIN at marketing.