At a minimum story gets people to stick around long enough to consume what you do and how you do it. At its best it touches people on an emotional level and makes them WANT to buy.
Story is, well, telling a story. It captures who you are and why you do what you do. It is the thing or things you can say nobody else can. It is not specs or features or how many years you’ve been in business. Again. . .it’s who you are.
The Hero’s Journey is the story that’s in our DNA. The closer you can tell your story through this form, the more naturally people will respond to it.
The term was first used by Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth), but the structure it describes has been with us since we wrote on cave walls and told stories around campfires. Pick up any religious book. Read the major stories by Native Peoples. Did you watch the first Star Wars?! The Matrix?
All use The Hero’s Journey, explained well here.
The Hero’s Journey, explained simply:
The hero is an otherwise ordinary person whose life is interrupted with a call to adventure. Something this ordinary person is afraid of and struggles against.
After initially refusing the call to action, our hero finds a mentor either from within or meets someone.
Our hero learns what he or she needs to overcome the fear, and is able to break through several obstacles, transforming into a hero as a result.
And, of course, our hero receives the reward in the end. But that’s not really the end.
He or she comes back to the ordinary world with the elixir, some element of treasure that will transform the world.
I know, you’re thinking the treasure you bring to your customers may not exactly transform the world. And we certainly didn’t have to slay any dragons along the way.
But, if you are passionate about what you do, you ARE transforming a little piece of the world for your customers. And if you didn’t get past the dragons you got past, more companies would be doing exactly what you do. They aren’t.
So, why is THAT? What do you know, what part of you, what have you experienced that defines THAT uniqueness?
THAT’S your story!
Your marketing needs to include your story. Expressing your story is some of the hardest work you’ll do. And some of the most important.
The best example of telling your story I’ve seen.
Google’s brilliant version of The Hero’s Journey:
Sony’s interesting take on The Hero’s Journey:
If you really want to study this, this is the book to read: Resonate, by Nancy Duarte. She worked with Steve Jobs very early and is generally given credit for his visual presentation style.
I have an entire site devoted to business storytelling.