“If some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance that they actually go insane to get it, imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity.”

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People

Legendary marketer Dale Carnegie has pointed out a harsh truth about marketing, or human communication: “Most of the time, what you have to say about your brand doesn’t matter to your audience unless they somehow feel relevant to and involved in your content.”  Like what Seth Godin has said, “The challenge you face is that people don’t care about you. They care about themselves, which is pretty natural.”

Marketers often ask, “How can I get more people to fall in love with my product?” And that’s the opposite of how buyers view the scenario. A buyer is asking, “How can I be even more amazing?” That communication gap signals tons of missed opportunities and revenue. Most brands lose the interest of their customers by making the product the hero of every marketing piece. In reality, the customers WANT to be the center of their own universe and your content. The only way to persuade people to care about your brand and product is to show that you care about them first. How exactly do we do this?

Make Them The Hero Of Your Story

Every Hero Has A Backstory

Batman has a tragic childhood, Superman comes from another planet, and each of your audiences also has individual stories that have shaped their interests, preferences, purchasing habits, etc. Before you decide what kind of hero’s role to give to your audience, you have to know where they come from, what problems they are looking to solve, and which service they value the most.

One way to learn your audience is through social media and through blogging. This requires you to pick a niche, learn everything you can about the people in that market, and then create helpful, useful, and shareable content specifically for that group of people. Then keep creating more content to keep those people coming back for more, sharing with their co-workers and friends, and talking about your company.

After all, there is no greater way to earn trust than to demonstrate you understand someone’s story.

Then There Is The Bad Guy

People can’t appreciate the presence of a hero until there’s a villain.

Sometimes, your audience can’t see the need of using your service until you help them see the extent of the enemy’s grip. The villain here could be profit loss, high risks, wasted effort…anything your audience may be up against.

Heroes Are Only Heroes When They Have Missions To Complete

What is a hero? In stories, the hero (or heroine) is the star, the person who takes action to overcome obstacles in order to win the prize.

Your marketing story should be able to convince your audience that they are given the power to overcome challenges and that there’s a higher purpose to your offer.

For example, in just 3 minutes, Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches Video” helped so many people see past the common standards of beauty and realize “you are more beautiful than you think.” The video resonates on several levels of the human ego, bringing even the toughest of us to tears.

A connection to a higher purpose, or at least a meaningful idea, is much more powerful than simply trying to convince people that they need what you have to offer.

Give Your Hero The Actual Power To Participate

There’s no better way to make your audience feel included than to have them directly participate in your story or campaign.

Here are a few easy steps you can follow to get your audience involved:

  • Make your user-oriented content submission process easy to participate in. For example, #hashtags are easy to use, but a video submission might be too much work for your audience.

  • Pay close attention to your social media feeds for fans creating content (including comments) about your brand.

  • Engage with your audience when you find the right, appropriate content submitted by them, and ask for republishing permission.

  • Think of this process as creating a culture for contribution.

You Play An Award-Winning Supporting Role.

Like Robin assists Batman in fighting villains, you or your products and services help your customers to complete their missions. You are not the center of the attention, but you are always there when your heroes or customers encounter a rough time.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has offered his take on customer relationship-building, “I would define Amazon by our big ideas, which are: customer centricity — putting the customer at the center of everything we do — [and] invention — we like to pioneer, we like to explore, we like to go down dark alleys and see what’s on the other side.”

Heroes Deserve A Round Of Applause

I know in a lot of movies, heroes go anonymous, but that’s not the case here.

Help your customers find ways to measure their performance and understand the results they have received are what they need the most in order to continue working with you in the future. Especially point out how far they have come and how much impact they are making on your business as well as theirs.

Who’s The Hero Of Your Marketing Stories?

Instead of saying your company “has saved XYZ millions of dollars,” say your company “has worked with XYZ to save them millions of dollars”.

Can You See The Difference?

Go through all your sales and marketing materials, and expunge every story that’s about you. Only describe your company and products in the context of how a customer used them, or could use them, to win. You want to make your audience grateful that you care so much about their victory.

What’s your story? Let us know in the comments section below!