08 Oct The Hero’s Journey for Logistics
The Hero’s Journey
Don Miller’s best-selling book, Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Story so Customers Will Listen describes a marketing strategy based on the hero’s journey. Even if you’re not a writer, it’s likely you’ve heard of the hero’s journey. It’s a classic story structure–a hero heads out on a journey, runs into some conflict, meets a mentor or guide, faces and conquers adversity, and ultimately changes for the better.
I went to one of Don Miller’s Story Brand workshops. And I have to admit, as an essayist and poet, I was more than a little skeptical. I have, my entire writing life, disavowed formula writing. If you have kids or more likely, you are the same age as my kids, you probably remember Power Writing. It’s a five paragraph formula for writing everything. When I worked as a Title 1 instructor, I had to teach it. We used red, blue, and green pens to visually teach the children how to do it.
I hated it. I thought Power Writing, with its colored pens and stilted approach, stifled creativity. I still believe this; however, as I’ve gotten older I also realize that we teach structures (like five paragraphs) and forms for a reason. A structure can help you get your story on the page. A form to write into can alleviate the natural stress we all feel when required to put words together to tell a story.
Here’s what I know. When we get good at something, really good at something, we can do anything we want with a structure. And the hero’s journey is a structure that’s been helping people write books, create television shows and movies, and sell products and services for as long as stories have been told. As Miller explains in the books and in his two day workshops, you can find the hero’s journey in all your favorite movies.
What is the Hero’s Journey?
So let’s take a look at the hero’s journey. It typically consists of 10 to 12 steps beginning with an ordinary hero living an ordinary life. Along the way, something happens that catapults the hero into an adventure where she meets a guide who has a plan to help her succeed. Along the way, she comes up against villains and trials, finally coming up against the supreme challenge which she meets with bravery and guts. She travels back to the ordinary world with the key to success.
This is, of course, a summary–after all, you don’t need to write a book or the screenplay for a movie. You simply need a compelling story your potential customer can relate to. And that’s why the hero’s journey is a great framework within which to work. Think about all the movies that follow this very framework.
Take the original Star Wars for example. Luke Skywalker is a regular guy living on a small planet with his aunt and uncle when he receives a message from Princess Leia who needs help. Luke doesn’t want to go, but Obi-Wan Kenobi (mentor or guide) convinces him to go. Luke heads out to save Princess Leia and along the way faces many trials, culminating in Luke’s destruction of the Death Star.
Or let’s take a look at the first Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry is a sad kid living in a cupboard in his aunt and uncle’s house when he receives a letter from Hogwarts school inviting him to attend. At first he doesn’t want to go, but he meets Hagrid (mentor) who convinces Harry to go. At Hogwarts, Harry comes up against many challenges and trials, especially Dumbledore who he defeats (temporarily) saving the day.
So what does this have to do with logistics marketing?
Like I said, I was a little skeptical at first, until I attended the workshop. Until I started taking a look at websites and sales collateral and saw how the hero’s journey (as formulaic as it is) could be used to create great brand stories for logistics companies.
So how does it work? Well, first we take a look at your ideal customer. You see, on your website, in your sales collateral, in your emails, your one-pagers, your blog posts, your company isn’t the hero. Your customer is the hero.
I’ll say it again: Your customer is the hero, not your company! Your customer is Luke Skywalker and your company is Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s a shift in the way we think about our businesses. But it’s a smart shift, and it works.
In order for your customer to get what he wants, he needs a guide. That’s where you come in. Your company is the guide with the plan (all good guides need a plan!). Your plan will call your customer to action so he can defeat failure and enjoy success.
Here at AM Transport, we use the hero’s journey roughly based on the lessons we learned at the Story Brand workshop and tweaked to fit the logistics market. We help you get down to the nitty gritty, dig deep to create a story that will resonate with your customers.
Yes, it’s a story structure (a tried and true formula) and it works. But it’s not as simple as it seems, and I’m not going to lie to you, it requires you to dig deep, to figure out exactly what your customer wants and exactly how your company helps them vanquish the enemy to get what they want. But once you do this, your marketing strategy will come together.
Logistics Brand Story for Content
And guess what? The structure, once you understand it, allows for infinite amounts of creativity. Because your company IS different from all the competitors out there. And by focusing on what you do for customers, on your time-tested plan, rather than who you are and why you are in the business, you invite those potential customers into the story. You show them what it looks like to win, to beat the odds, to succeed.
Using the hero’s journey, we’ll help you create a story to revamp your website so your customers know exactly what you do and how you can help them within seconds of landing on your home page. Your story will be a content generator, a guide to help you create email campaigns, blog posts, white papers, and more. The truth is that the more you employ the power of story, the more success you will see.
If you want to know more about Story Brand, and the hero’s journey, we highly recommend Donald Miller’s Story Brand. And if you’re ready to unleash the power of story for your logistics company, schedule a call with us at Squirrel Works today.