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Storytelling Marketing 101: The Hero's Journey

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

Entering 2023, we're starting a blog series call Storytelling Marketing 101. Storytelling is an incredibly misunderstood buzzword, possibly one of the worst culprits in the marketing/branding world, so we're here to put it straight.

Each week we'll dive deep into the ins and outs of storytelling marketing. From story arcs, to the why behind why we humans resonate with story, to actionable steps you can take to start implementing the science of storytelling into your brand.

So, are you ready for an epic marketing adventure? Buckle up, because we're about to take a wild ride through the hero's journey, marketing style. This storytelling framework has been used for centuries to craft compelling tales of adventure and self-discovery, but did you know it can also be used to create marketing campaigns that will blow your audience's socks off?

In this blog post, we'll break down the hero's journey and show you how to apply it to your marketing strategy. Just try not to get too caught up in the excitement and forget to actually implement these strategies...we believe in you!

Step 1: Know Your Hero

In the world of marketing, your hero is your target audience. Before you can craft a journey that will resonate with them, you need to know what makes them tick. What are their pain points and passions? What motivates them to take action? Understanding your audience is crucial for creating marketing campaigns that will speak to them and drive conversions. Trust us, it's better to know your audience than to just assume they all want to be sold a weird inflatable chair shaped like a cactus (we learned that lesson the hard way).

Step 2: Give Your Audience a Call to Adventure

The call to adventure is the catalyst that sets the hero's journey in motion. In marketing, this could be a challenge, a promotion, or a problem that your product or service can solve. Whatever it is, make sure it's something that will get your audience pumped and ready to take action. Maybe they're tired of their current solution not living up to its promises, or maybe they're just looking for a little excitement in their life. Either way, give them a reason to join you on this marketing journey and they'll be more likely to follow.

Step 3: Guide Your Audience Through the Journey

As your audience embarks on their journey, they'll encounter all sorts of obstacles and challenges. This is where you come in, marketing wizards! You'll need to use all your skills and wit to guide your audience through these challenges and help them emerge victorious. This could involve creating educational content that helps your audience overcome their challenges, offering customer support to address their questions and concerns, or providing incentives and rewards to keep them motivated. Think of yourself as a trusty sidekick, helping your audience vanquish their marketing foes and emerge victorious.

Step 4: Provide Mentorship and Support

Along the way, your audience will also encounter mentors and allies - AKA your marketing channels and tactics. These will help your audience along their journey and offer support and guidance when they need it most. This could involve using social media to connect with your audience, running paid ad campaigns to reach new audiences, or using email marketing to nurture leads and keep them engaged. These mentors and allies are crucial for helping your audience navigate the choppy waters of the marketing world, so make sure you have a strong team by your side.

Step 5: The Climax: The Point of Purchase

As your audience nears the end of their journey, it's time for the climax - the point of purchase. This is where everything comes to a head and your audience will need to dig deep and pull out their wallets. To make this moment as seamless and irresistible as possible, you'll want to ensure that your sales process is optimized and that you have a clear, compelling call to action. Think of this as the final boss battle of the marketing journey - if you've done your job right, your audience will be ready to hand over their hard-earned cash and celebrate their victory.

Step 6: The Denouement: The Post-Purchase Experience

And finally, it's time for the denouement - the post-purchase experience. This is where your audience reflects on their journey and all that they've learned. It's a time for celebration and for setting the stage for future purchases. This is also an opportunity for you to strengthen your relationship with your customers and encourage repeat business. You can do this by providing excellent customer service, gathering feedback and using it to improve your offering, and offering incentives for customers to come back and make additional purchases.

The hero's journey is a powerful framework for crafting marketing campaigns that resonate with your audience and drive conversions.

By understanding your audience, providing them with a call to adventure, guiding them through their journey, offering mentorship and support, and delivering a seamless and satisfying post-purchase experience, you'll be able to create marketing campaigns that your audience will love and that will drive conversions.

But don't just take our word for it - the hero's journey has been backed by numerous studies and experts as a highly effective framework for marketing. In a paper published in the Journal of Marketing, authors C. Shawn Green and R. Scott Tannenbaum argue that

"the hero's journey serves as a unifying narrative structure that allows a company to effectively communicate a brand's meaning and value to its customers."

They go on to say that "by aligning their marketing efforts with the hero's journey, firms can create a more holistic, immersive, and emotional brand experience that ultimately leads to increased brand loyalty and advocacy."

Another study, published in the Journal of Advertising, found that "using the hero's journey in advertising can lead to increased brand attitudes and purchase intention, especially for those consumers who are more receptive to storytelling." The researchers suggest that this is because the hero's journey

"provides a framework for brands to create compelling stories that are relevant and meaningful to consumers."

So next time you're planning a marketing campaign, consider using the hero's journey as your framework. It may seem like a daunting task at first, but with a little bit of planning and creativity, you'll be able to craft a journey that your audience will love and that will drive conversions. And who knows - you might even have a little fun along the way. So go forth, marketing warriors, and conquer the hero's journey!

Of course, it's important to remember that the hero's journey is just one framework among many, and it may not be the right fit for every campaign or every audience. It's always a good idea to test and measure your marketing efforts to see what works and what doesn't, and to be willing to pivot and try new approaches if necessary.

But if you're looking for a tried-and-true framework that has stood the test of time and has been backed by numerous studies, the hero's journey is a great place to start.

So, there you have it - a comprehensive guide to using the hero's journey in marketing. We hope this post has inspired you to think about your marketing campaigns in a new way and has given you some ideas for how to apply the hero's journey to your own strategy.

Happy marketing, and may your journey be epic!

PS - If you wanna take a peek at the hero's journey in action, an Origin Film is where it is used effectively. Check out our latest work with Phoenix Haus.

PPS - If you missed our last blog post on how Storytelling Marketing is a marketer's top tool for 2023, you can read it here.

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