“Every human being wakes up each morning and sees the world through the lens of a protagonist. The world revolves around us, regardless of how altruistic, generous, and selfless a person we may be.”
― Donald Miller
I tried to think of a catchy way to start this blog post . . . but I realized I needed to let Donald lead the way. He’s basically the Godfather of “Story” as it relates to emerging businesses and there’s nobody else I’d rather mention to begin this blog…
See, a few years ago, I was working with a fledgling health and wellness startup. They had a great product, catchy branding, and beautiful imagery… but they were growing slowly, struggling to gain noticeable engagement on social media, and the pressure was building on the Executive team.
I joined them and jumped right in. But right after leaping in, I found that I’d be more useful if I took a full step back. On my third morning, I didn’t respond to any Slack messages or reply to emails. No, instead, I opened up our Instagram and began to look for clues to answer one simple question…
What is our story, and why doesn’t anyone care about it?
After an hour of observation, I realized something. Our Instagram didn’t feature “real” people using our product. Our imagery was beautiful, colorful, and visually appealing…but nobody cared. So starting a few days later, I began posting images that focused on one thing and one thing only…
People using our product.
I know, nothing brilliant, but necessary. The captions began to shift from being witty long-form content to short quotes and simple two-sentence call to actions that did one thing, it made our potential customers feel like we were talking directly to them.
Want to know what happened?
Our Instagram and Facebook lit up like New York on the 4th of July. Comments began pouring in with questions, compliments, and customers speaking about their love of our product like we’d never seen. Revenue began to skyrocket and we were off to the races.
We’d thought that our “product” was the hero. Rather, our customers were just waiting for us to recognize our foolish mistake.
Businesses in every industry are guilty of this mistake. And it’s costing them massive amounts of revenue, customer relationships, and opportunities to grow. We’re living in a time of unimaginable noise. Advertisements are on every corner, cell phone screens, bus stops, and commercial breaks. You can’t run, hide, or turn 100% of them off. Customers from coast to coast are becoming more and more numb with every passing week and companies are sifting through every magazine, mastermind group, and marketing consultant possible to help them get their message across.
But there’s a simple way to fix this.
Become a guide. Stop trying to be the hero.
“Imagine your customer is a hitchhiker. You pull over to give him a ride, and the one burning question on his mind is simply Where are you going? But as he approaches, you roll down the window and start talking about your mission statement, or how your grandfather built this car with his bare hands, or how your road-trip playlist is all 1980s alternative. This person doesn’t care.” ― Donald Miller
You are a guide.
Your business is a guide.
Your customer is the hero.
But your customer needs a guide.
Because just about every story you’ll see or hear goes like this: A character who wants something encounters a problem before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a guide steps into their lives, gives them a plan, and calls them to action. That action helps them avoid failure and ends in success.
And yet, we so often as businesses attempt to be the hero. We think it will impress our customer and by impressing our customer, we’ll get them to purchase our product or sign up for our services. Turns out, that’s a pretty lousy way to talk to customers.
It’s time to evolve.
It’s time to tell better stories.
It’s time to communicate with customers in a way that doesn’t make them want to become numb and hide in a closet.
Let’s work to become experienced guides and stop trying to trip over ourselves in front of our customers. I mean, you wouldn’t want to fall flat on your face in front of Superman . . . right?
In the blog, I quote an author a few times. His name is Donald Miller and he runs an amazing company based out of Nashville, TN. They’ve developed an amazing framework for businesses, big or small to clarify their message and tell better stories. I couldn’t recommend his book more…It’s called Building a Storybrand. You can find it here on Amazon.
“In every line of copy we write, we’re either serving the customer’s story or descending into confusion; we’re either making music or making noise.”
― Donald Miller