Given my 20+ year history as a marketing consultant, I’m often asked for marketing advice. One of the recurring issues I deal with is proper positioning of a company, product or service in its market. This is a challenge for many small to mid-sized organizations. Too many companies position themselves or their products and services “in front” of or “over” the customer. In other words, they place themselves in a dominant role, and the customer in a subservient role. This only results in a short term customer relationship. Why? Because over the long term, customers are not as interested in helping their vendors as they are in receiving help themselves.
Conversely, successful companies position themselves as a “guide” to their customers, allowing the customer to be the “hero”. A few years ago, I sat through a presentation given by Joe Boyd at Rebel Pilgrim in Cincinnati. He presented an overview of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” as a basis for how companies should position themselves.
The idea is to think of presenting our product or service in terms of a story. Every great story has 5 core elements. First, there’s the Hero. The Hero usually is weak or in need, but they ultimately “win” at the end of the story. The “win” is when they obtain the second element: the Treasure. However, there’s a problem… the third element, the Dragon, who gets in the way of the Hero obtaining the treasure. So, the fourth element steps in… the Guide. The Guide never obtains the Treasure. Instead, they serve to help the Hero. They do this by providing the fifth element… the Sword. The Sword represents all that the Guide gives and does for the Hero so they can defeat the Dragon and obtain the Treasure.
Star Wars is a great example….
- Hero: Luke Skywalker
- Treasure: Peace in the Galaxy
- Dragon: Darth Vader
- Guide: Obi Wan Ken-obi
- Sword: The Force and a Light Saber
The best marketing and sales messages make the customer the Hero, and the company the Guide. When the company becomes the Hero, the customer gets lost. That’s rarely a good thing.
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