The Hero’s Journey: How to Fill Your Hero’s Needs. (Psst! You Are Not the Hero, Your Customer Is!)

Strategy Web

Recently during dinner with a friend, I bemoaned the struggle I was having with a writing project. My friend, who happens to be a New York Times bestselling author (by not sharing his name, I am showing you how super cool and cosmopolitan I am; totally not the name dropper type, right?) had a suggestion for my path forward by drawing on an iconic storytelling template, The Hero’s Journey.

It was a great night of conversation, where diagrams and arrows were sketched on napkins. And I left renewed, reinvigorated, and ready to begin again.

I’ve been thinking about The Hero’s Journey ever since. It’s been helpful to me. And I’ve come to realize that it is also a great resource for business leaders and marketing folks as they communicate about their own business.

The Hero’s Journey can be described as:

According to folklorists and other narrative scholars, the hero’s journey forms the basic template for all great stories. Described at length in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the hero’s journey serves as the tale every culture tells. The journey’s path is described variously, but in general it includes the call to adventure, a supernatural aide or mentor, initiation by trials and adventures, victory, and return. Many fiction- and screen-writing courses focus on the hero’s journey, and its universality can easily be seen in fairy tales and other traditional tales, as well as in such popular culture offerings as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and George Lucas’ Star Wars. (source)

The Hero’s Journey is all-encompassing; from ancient myths to modern classics. While Campbell’s storytelling formula is a bit more advanced than the average business owner may want or need to delve into, there are basic elements that organizations can use to help potential customers understand their company’s value.

The key points of the hero’s journey relevant to the sales and marketing process are:

  • Your hero (the customer) has a problem
  • Your hero (the customer) takes a journey toward solving that problem
  • Your hero (the customer) meets a mentor (your company) that helps them with their journey.
  • Your hero (the customer) succeeds in achieving their goals.

Here’s your challenge: when it comes to sharing your story, make sure you remember that you are the mentor, the expert, the solution provider; ready to help the hero finish their journey. By telling your story in such a way that customers see how you help in their journey, you earn yourself a place in their adventure (and hopefully a sale!).

Of course, if you would like to dive really deep into the world of storytelling you can check out Campbell’s book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces.