The reason why your storytelling fails is not that you may go too detail-oriented or extend the story for too long.
It actually has to do with the way you tell the story, better said, with the role you give yourself in your story.
Understanding The Hero’s Journey
In every story, there is a protagonist and it’s called the Hero.
The Hero is present in every major story in time and we know that because the research was done.
Back in 1949, Joseph Campbell published a book called The Hero With A Thousand Faces. For his book, Campbell looked into every major story in time and managed to find a common pattern between all of them.
He noticed that not only all the stories had a Hero but, the Hero also followed a very similar journey through all of them.
He called this the “Hero’s Journey.”
Every journey, there are two worlds in which all the actions take place, these are the Known World and the Unknown World.
And every story starts in the Known World
The Known World
Stories start in the Known World because here where the Hero lives. This is also where the conflict happens.
The moment the peace is altered by the problem, the life of the Hero changes.
Now, she must make a choice, whether to take action and solve it, or leave things as they are.
There is internal doubt, solving the problem requires doing things and skills that the Hero doesn’t have because she hasn’t been in that position before.
So more and more, the Hero feels pushed to act but, it’s uncertain. That is until she meets a certain person.
This is the Mentor, a person who empathizes with the Hero because he was in a similar position once and managed to overcome it successfully.
It’s the Mentor who gives the Hero the confidence boost and final push she needs to take action.
And so she decides to cross the threshold and venture into the Unknown World.
The Unknown World
Here is where the real growth happens. She is now out of her comfort zone, in a place where she hasn’t been before.
She doubts herself, she is not sure if she has what it takes to defeat the Villain, the one causing the problem.
That means, there are two battles to be won, an external one and an internal one.
There are ups and downs, more downs than ups, especially as the story moves forward, building up the tension.
But, the Mentor is always present. Supporting her whenever she feels she has made a mistake, whenever doubt clogs her mind, the Mentor gives her the tools that allow her to see beyond the situation and move forward.
Finally, there is a revelation, she comes across a thought that changes her mind, or figures out a new angle, a new tactic that will make all the difference, perhaps a weakness in the Villain’s plan.
The Hero manages to win the internal battle, she now believes in herself and it’s this newfound confidence that allows her to go ahead and defeat the Villain.
Now the problem is solved, allowing her to go back home where everything started.
Back To The Known World
The Hero comes back home and she is now a changed person.
The journey she went through, the things she had to do in order to beat the Villain have made their mark on her.
So she is no longer the same person, she is now a wise, confident leader.
The Hero’s Journey looks like this.
Take a moment to think about stories you know, look at your favorite movies and you’ll see it immediately.
Luke Skywalker has Obi-Wan in Star Wars who helps him in his journey to defeat Darth Vader. Simba has the Monkey in Lion King that pushes him to go back and defeat his uncle Scar.
And even you as an entrepreneur have your own ongoing story.
You found a problem you care enough to want to solve. You asked around to family and friends, and there was one person that convinced you to get started on this crazy journey.
You cross the threshold and here you are. In your unknown world full of ups and downs, more downs and ups but, here you are.
Constantly battling doubt internally and invoices externally.
But you push through thanks to the support of “Mentors” that give you the ideas, tools, and introductions that help you get to the next stage.
Why Do Your Stories Fail?
The whole point of using stories isn’t to showcase your experience.
You share your story so that your customers find themselves within it.
And more importantly, so that they take action.
So how do you get them to find themselves in it?
Well, you need to change the angle from which you tell the story.
Or better said, the role you have in their story.
Think about it for a second.
Your customer has a problem that is trying to solve. When they come to you, they are not looking for another Hero with great achievements.
They are looking for a Mentor. A Mentor that shows them how they can solve their problem.
The reason why your stories fail is because you are positioning yourself as a Hero instead of the Mentor.
You as the Mentor, are the one that guides the customer into solving their problems. You help them by telling them that everything is going to be ok. That they are not alone and that you can guide them all the way to the solution.
Because you have developed an easy to follow a plan that guarantees them the results they want.
That plan is made up of your products and services. They are the tools your customers use in order to overcome their problems.
What Positions You As The Hero?
Your story needs to integrate into the story of your customer. Not run parallel to it.
Your story must tell the Hero that you understand them, therefore, the things you say are to show them that you have also been there.
When you talk about how you are an award-winning studio, that you have the best lawyers in town, that you’ve been in business for 50 years, all those things put you in the position of a Hero.
You may share them to give the customers confidence in your skills, in your team, in the results of your services but, instead, they achieve the opposite.
They make you look as if you are bragging.
One way to get started is by taking a look at your copy, how much of it uses “WE” and how much of it uses “YOU”
Put your ego aside, your achievements, your dream team, and instead, show why you understand them, how they overcome the problem too if they just follow the plan you have developed for them.
Let’s take this post into consideration.
You struggle with your communication and are looking to increase sales.
If I tell you how much I’m selling, and how easy it’s for me to communicate, we wouldn’t connect. Instead, you are looking for content that helps you overcome your problem.
So I position myself as the mentor, sharing my knowledge through this post which becomes my product.
This post gives you the information you need to get to the next level because the moment you move over to the Mentor side, the business will improve.
Because now, Heros will come your way to help them move forward.
Heros don’t attract Heros, Mentors do.
Don’t be the Hero, be the Mentor.
Don’t be Luke, be Obi-Wan
Make It Happen!
Go through your content and identify the text that talks about you or your company.
Normally they will use “we” and say something like “we have the best team” or “we are an award-winning X” or “my grandfather started this company 80 years ago”
These are all important things but, unfortunately only to you.
Because your customer can’t make a decision based on this content. For them, they read this and say “so what? great for you”
“How does it help me as a customer that you have the best lawyers?” The customer is not going to figure this out on their own. Instead, tell them what that fact means.
Please share in the comment section some of the content you found that positions you as a Hero instead of a Mentor and how are you rephrasing it?
Embrace it, share it, own it!
All the best,
PS: If you know somebody who is working hard to grow their business, feel free to send them this post.