It’s that time of the year: back to school. That’s valid for kids and also for my emails. After a break of a few weeks, they will start hitting your inbox again.
Although I took a break from sending you my thoughts on strategy and storytelling, I didn’t stop helping executive leader clients during my “vacation”.
It turns out that several of them were wrestling with the same question. They are defining or redefining who exactly is their target customer.
Translated in strategic storytelling jargon, that question is “Who is your hero in your story?”
Well, I just gave you a pretty big hint…
You are not the hero. It is “somebody else”.
In strategic storytelling, the hero is never you.
If you want people to believe what you believe and accept the change that you have to offer with your product or service, they have to see themselves in the story.
Otherwise, why should they care?
A story about you, how great your business is, how many awards you received, and how many centuries of experience combined your team has… sorry to say, but that’s all boring stuff. I’ve bored many people myself this way in the past and learned the lesson the hard way.
I think it’s OK to struggle a bit with finding who your hero is exactly.
- First, this isn’t always obvious.
- It’s also a really healthy habit to challenge your assumptions about who you serve, because you might just know so much that you end up losing sight of the changes in your market.
- The most successful and experienced leaders are almost always obsessed by this topic. Just to give you some perspective, I am currently working with a $300M / year company, in business for over 10 years, whose CEO was still unclear about this until I had him and his leadership team reframe their strategy.
- If you are figuring this out at an early stage of a company, you have the advantage of avoiding throwing money at marketing campaigns that produce poor results later on.
So, how do you think about the hero of your grand plan?
- The hero of your story should always be the person you’re serving, ultimately the person whose life is going to be positively impacted by the change that your product or service enables.
- Say you are selling a marvelous piece of technology that helps people get rid of snoring, you, your team, or your anti-snoring product are not the hero of your story. Your customer is the hero.
- A hero takes risks. What risk are you taking?
- In choosing your product, your customer decides to take on the challenge to adopt your new technology and conquer their anxiety, their fear, their doubts and anything else getting in their way to a better life. These are just a few of the emotional risks that they’re accepting to take.
- At the end of the story, the hero wins (Ok, almost always wins…). That’s when she gets the prize: the value proposition, aka the better life that you will deliver thanks to your solution. In the case above, that would be no more snoring, better sleep, better health, etc.
I am grateful for having you as the hero of the change I am suggesting with the use of storytelling as a new framework for greater strategic thinking, more progress and more prosperous businesses.