When you talk about your business to prospects – in person, over the phone, or even on your website – are you setting yourself up as the hero? If so, you’re making a BIG mistake!
In my newest book, Radical Relevance, I feature a great book, Building Your StoryBrand, by Donald Miller. As the title suggests, Miller puts his ideas in the framework of stories. In fact, Miller draws numerous examples from movies to bring his ideas to life.
For example, Miller says that most successful movies use the characters of The Hero, The Guide, and The Villain. In the early Star Wars movies, Luke Skywalker was the hero, Yoda was the guide, and Darth Vader was the villian. Miller recommends that you want to position yourself as the guide and allow your prospects and clients to be the heroes of their own stories.
You Are Not the Hero
From my perspective, too many businesses set themselves up as the hero. They confuse establishing their credibility (which they should do at the right time) with making themselves the hero or star. Using the principles of Radical Relevance, you want to become so targeted in your marketing and messaging that your prospects see themselves in the stories you tell and examples you provide. They see that they can go from problem to solution with your guidance.
In Building Your Story Brand, Miller helps the reader learn how to talk about their prospects’ and clients’ problems using the same tools screenwriters use, i.e., the villain-hero conflict.
Miller starts this conversation using movie examples such as Darth Vader (Star Wars), Voldemort (Harry Potter), and Kryptonite (Superman). The villain is something external to us and our business. Writes Miller, “Frustration, for example, is not a villain; frustration is what a villain makes us feel. High Taxes, rather, is a good example of a villain.”
One common villain in your story is this: the barriers to reaching ideal prospects, such as marketing-message overload, the Do Not Call regulations, gatekeepers, etc.
Two Levels of Problems
Writes Miller, “The villain is the antagonist because the villain causes the hero serious problems.” I would contend that since growth comes from solving problems, the villain can also be the catalyst to the hero’s growth. No problem, no growth.
As we think in terms of gaining the attention of our ideal prospects through the problems we solve, there are two levels of problems we need to address when we communicate our value to others: external problems and internal problems.
External problems are the barriers that the villain puts in the way. So, if the villain is the barriers to reaching people, then the external problem is: not seeing enough quality prospects who turn into ideal clients.
But speaking to only the villain and/or external problem is not enough.
Internal problems tend to be the emotions that people experience because of the external problem. These include emotions such as frustration, self-doubt, anxiety, fear, denial, and intimidation. Miller makes a good case that someone’s “… internal desire to resolve a frustration is a greater motivator than their desire to solve an external problem.”
B2C and B2B
This concepts of external and internal problems work equally well in both B2C and B2B scenarios. Remember, businesses are made up of people. The more you can determine the external and internal problems that your buyers have within a company, the more effective you’ll be at gaining their interest and earning their business.
When you’re speaking with your corporate contacts, discuss how the company problems are affecting them personally; discover the impact of the problem on the company, as well as the impact of the problem on them.
Here is an example of external problems that cause internal problems.
External Problem – A barrage of conflicting and confusing information
Internal Problem – Confusion, anxiety, denial, inaction
Quite often, the best way to elicit both levels of problems, is to make statements or ask questions that demonstrate you know their world.
Example: “It’s pretty common for folks to feel inundated and even a bit confused by the sheer volume of conflicting information that comes from many different sources. Is that something you’ve experienced?”
To be able to create relevant and compelling messaging, it’s absolutely critical for you to know both the external and internal problems faced by your prospects and clients.
Donald Miller says, “Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but people buy the solutions to internal problems.”