How to Make Your Audience the Hero of Your Story

Nothing beats a good story. Between bedtime stories when you were little or great novels and movies, a good story draws us in and keeps us hanging on to the edge of our seats until our hero finds his or her way and lives happily ever after. 

At DMA Solutions, we’ve become students of storytelling. Whether it’s Joseph Campbell, Seth Godin or Donald Miller, each author has a version of a storytelling framework, and each positions the audience on the receiving end of the story, as the hero. 

In this Marketing Matters webinar, Dan’l spoke in depth about building a storytelling framework for your brand. We’re here to go a little deeper and give you some practical ways to start practicing this at your company.

Here’s how to make your audience the hero of your story:

Be the guide 

Have you ever heard the song, “I want to talk about me” by Toby Keith? We’ve all been around that person who just loves to talk about themselves. And I’m pretty sure none of us have walked away feeling valued or that our problems mattered. But yet, we somehow forget this life lesson when it comes to telling our brand’s story!  Instead of positioning our brands as the hero, we simply transition our position in the story to become the guide who helps the hero find what they’re searching for. This means your messaging shouldn’t lead with information about your company or your product, it should lead with the customer in mind.

Think about it, every great story has a hero, but more importantly, that hero has a guide. Someone who comes along and points the hero to the ultimate solution. This means you need to be Robin, not Batman. You need to be Glinda, the good witch of the north, not Dorothy. You need to be Mr. Miyagi, not Daniel. 

Brand messaging, whether it’s on a website, social media, advertisements, or internal communications, needs to position the audience as the hero while we (the marketer) focus on guiding them to success. 


Lead with empathy 

Think about your brand messaging and positioning right now. Does it start with a statement that involves you or your product? Oftentimes, we’re trying to explain what it is we do, or what our product does instead of starting with what the hero needs. Donald Miller said it best when he explained, ”almost all companies try to sell solutions to external problems, but customers are much more motivated to resolve their inner frustrations.”

This means we need to focus less on what your product does and focus more on the issues that your customer faces when the need for your product or solution is necessary. 

Here’s an example to help explain: 

Let’s assume your product is a value-added, pre-packaged snack and your target audience is parents. Instead of starting your advertisements or social media with verbiage about your product, start with an empathetic statement to the busy mom who is struggling to balance work and getting fresh and healthy snacks on the plate for her kids. We connect with people when we’re empathetic and now is a great time to lean into this reality.


Finish with solutions 

I know what you’re thinking, “I can be empathetic all day, but how will this approach ultimately lead to a sale?” Don’t worry, that’s next. Once you’ve proved to your customer or audience that you understand their challenges, now it’s time to give them a solution. 

In the fresh produce industry, we’re fortunate that our products solve many problems facing retailers, foodservice providers, and consumers today. Continuing the same example we used previously about the parent needing convenient and healthy snacks for their kids, we get to empathize with his/her problems and then introduce the solutions. The solution is your time-saving and nutritious snack. 

A clear call to action (CTA) is crucial here. The customer or audience needs to know what they should do next. Is it “buy now,” “learn more,” or “go here,” don’t assume the customer knows how to solve the problem. After all, we’re the guide! 

People love a good story, so why should your brand messaging be anything less? Working to make the audience or customer the hero of your story will lead to amazing results for your brand including increased sales, improved company language for recruiting and hiring, and most importantly being viewed as a resource by your customers. 

If brand messaging is something you are ready to invest in, have a look at our Messaging Guide Essential Service and let us get your company equipped in 45 days or less.