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Why We've Been Wrong: The Product Isn't the Hero

by Kathryn Gillett  |  
August 26, 2013

Remember the scene in Star Wars IV: A New Hope in which Obi Wan Kenobi is training Luke Skywalker to become a Jedi Knight? Luke is “blindfolded” by wearing a blast helmet and slashes at the air with his light saber, trying to strike the flitting Jedi Training Ball. As Luke moves forward in his quest to become a Jedi Knight, he relies on Obi Wan to be his source of wisdom.

Star Wars creator, George Lucas, has always admitted that the story structure of Star Wars was far from unique. It was based on the same framework as all the great stories that come to us across time and cultures: The Hero’s Journey. In these stories, the Hero isn’t always born with super-human abilities. Much of the time, the Hero is someone quite human, like Luke, who goes on a quest and is transformed by the adventure.

In fact, the Hero (Luke) is always transformed by the adventure. And it is the role of Mentor (Obi Wan) to give insight, training, and advice that helps the Hero move forward in his quest.

Persuasion Is Really About Transformation

In sales and marketing, the “product as hero” point of view has been so pervasive it’s almost in our DNA. But it no longer works---because all your competitors are also telling your audience how great their “hero” is.

What we need to do is turn around 180-degrees. We need to see that the Hero is our audience who’s on a quest for a solution to what’s ailing their organization.

Of course, you passionately believe people should choose your product as their solution. That’s as it should be. But your audience’s perspective is different. They know they need a way out of the situation they’re mired in. But what they don’t know is that they’re also stuck in a perception.

It’s as though your audience has driven a car into the mud and gotten stuck. As the driver, they keep pressing harder on the accelerator. Sure, a lot’s going on: The engine emits a deafening roar, and mud is flying everywhere. But all that’s happening is that the wheels are digging deeper into the mud. They’re looking for a solution---they want to get back on the road again, but they’re looking at it from the way they’ve always done it before: Press on the gas, and the car goes. Meanwhile, you’ve got a jeep with a winch, ready to pull the driver out, but he keeps saying, “No, thanks. I can do this myself.”

Remember that the process that got them into the muck and mire is Their Way---and people tend to defend Their Way and resist seeing things differently.

Remember: It’s YOUR sales pipeline, but it’s THEIR decision journey. Mentor-like content opens readers up to making a mental shift---from doing it the way that’s gotten them into this mess, to making a change with you.

To help your audience make that transition, see them as the Hero on a critical quest---and give them helpful insight, training, and advice that honors and supports their process of transformation.

How? Try NOT talking about how your product is the Hero that saves the day. Instead, create sales and marketing tools that guide your audience on their quest for a solution. By relating to your audience as the Hero, they’re more likely to identify with your solution--- and that’s more likely to shift their point of view.

Remember: Throwing more facts at them won’t work. (For more on this, see previous Daily Fix blog posts The Science Behind Why Every Buy is an Emotional Buy and No More Techno-Speak: Businesses Must Communicate Like People Do)

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Kathryn Gillett is the creator of The Hero Method.

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  • by Luis Cubero Mon May 18, 2015 via web

    This article is right on! I fully agree with this suggestion of making customers heroes. Your product is a "gift" or "helpful aide" you (the Mentor) provide the hero to help with their quest (business objectives).
    -Luis Cubero (author of "Business Storytelling Guide")

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