Storytelling: Are You the Hero or the Guide?

While people shop for things, they look at a lot of factors; marketing 101 talks about the “5 Ps,” which include price, placement and product, but really people want to feel good about doing business with whomever they give their money to. Businesses are the commodity as much as the products and services they sell, so their story needs to be compelling enough to draw customers in, even when the price may not be the lowest.

We’re getting better at telling our story, which explains why you’re reading our blog. We’re clarifying a message that tells people our vision, our mission and how it impacts everyone we touch. But beyond story, we want to make sure we’re assigning our roles properly to keep ourselves true to our vision and mission.

Heroes and Guides

If you’ve read through our website or any of our blogs, you’re well aware that we embrace continuous improvement. This not only applies to our process, but our people. Continuous learning is continuous improvement, and we’re therefore avid readers who have a voracious appetite for information that can help us improve our business through our relationships.

Enter a great read that we felt is in step with who we are, and puts it into a storytelling concept. ”Building a Storybrand” is exactly what we’re setting out to do — putting the emphasis more on telling than selling. In particular we’re placing ourselves in the story as guides versus heroes, which is one of the concepts covered in the book. So let’s dive in a little deeper…

Understanding our role in the customer’s story

The cowboy in the white hat. The underdog who overcomes and conquers. These are heroes — they’re the main character in movies and get the glory eventually. We like to identify with them because in some way we hope to fulfill that role and save someone’s day. (The glory part would be pretty sweet, too.)

However, somewhere in the background is a supporting cast that helped them along the way. Truly, no one gets to overcome and achieve without help. It may be smaller, unseen deeds that nudge the hero into a position to excel. Along with support, these guides offer guidance and wisdom, and trusted advice that helps the hero.

Who Are You in Your Customer’s Story?

Both of these characters are essential in any great story, but for companies looking to truly build their brand — and their relationships — they need to know their place. Too often, a business will want to act as the hero, saving the customer’s day by getting them what they need, or fixing something that is broken.

While that’s understandable, it is also a bit self-centered. Without the customer, any business is just a concept. Instead, assuming the role of guide places your role as a knowledgeable and valuable resource to your hero, your customer, is where you ought to be. Two of the pillars of our mission is to act in humility and in a spirit of servanthood, which puts us out of the hero business. That’s OK, because our story is far better when we make our customers the heroes.

For example, while we do like to solve problems, we want to give the credit to the customer for improving their resources. In its very name, customer service is not focused on the company, but serving the customer. The story is indeed about what we offer, but places the focus on how their life will be made better.

In many ways, realtors are masters of this. People might start off looking at price, and if the description would just talk about numbers, the buyer might feel a challenge to get the lowest price. However, when the listing description talks to a buyer by placing them in the home, enjoying family dinners in the large kitchen, or watching the big game in the media room, the focus is on them, not the realtor. Generally, they end up paying for the vision of being that hero with the great gatherings, and will be willing to pay more for it.

Of course it’s also about maintaining relationships after a sale, so the best guides take care of their heroes in a way that keeps them supported for the long run. With the right guidance and the most trustworthy resources, heroes aren’t likely to forget that because such commitment is sadly rare. You are the center of a company's universe while you're considering a purchase, then when you sign on, it's long waiting times on the phone with looping music that tests your sanity.

Our thought is that a company's responsibility to a customer only intensifies after they show trust and purchase a product or service from you. It's what makes any company stand out, especially when they do so as a guide, servant and educator for the customer. Each engagement with a new customer, therefore should be establishing these roles to create another chapter in your award-winning story.

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