The content you create performs all the same tasks as that rare beast known as effective advertising. It just doesn’t seem like advertising, and it doesn’t cost you millions of dollars.
Way more effective, way less expensive … what’s not to like? So, let’s track the critical steps of the hero’s journey, and see how they fit within the 7A Content Marketing Framework:
Starting with an agile mindset means you’re telling an interactive story over time. You start out knowing who you want to reach and with an understanding of the problems and desires they have, but you adapt to the feedback you get from the audience in real time.
This does not mean you change course at the drop of a hat (unless you’ve really missed the boat with your initial research and strategy). It simply means you tweak what happens based on the valuable information you get from what the audience says and more importantly, does.
This is the research stage. This is where you immerse yourself in your hero’s world, in order to make educated guesses about what kind of content will attract and retain a relevant, profitable audience.
You’re trying to construct a model of your prospect’s ordinary world. What is their day-to-day life like? What are their hopes, dreams, desires, frustrations, problems and pain?
When you’ve got a clear picture of that, you’ve got a handle on a potential Call to Adventure. In other words, what do they want to achieve that’s not part of their current ordinary world? More importantly, what are the resistance points that causes them to Resist the Call?
What you’re really doing is constructing audience personas. Same thing as buyer personas, because ultimately that’s what you want them to transform into. But this approach allows you to discover what they actually want to buy.
In the attention phase, you are creating content to get them to “meet their mentor.” Your initial content should be an expression of empathy for their ordinary world, an identification of their call to adventure in the form of problems, desires, and aspirations, and an overcoming of objections that amount to a refusal of the call.
Your content becomes the catalyst for crossing the threshold in the world of transformation, and this is the motivation to subscribe and follow you over time. Your community starts to form, and individual audience members begin to bond with people who are on the same journey.
Ongoing challenges appear in the form of feedback, which fuels your interactive, agile content marketing process while you gain even more traction. You attain a minimum viable audience, where your audience begins to grow itself, and reveals what else they need to complete their journey. You’re now on the path to authority.
Authority is attained one person at time, during the attention and audience phases. This means authority in the larger sense, where you (or your company) become recognized as a subject matter expert results from the aggregation of each of those people viewing you as a valued guide or mentor.
In the authority stage, you’re getting feedback about what’s missing. In other words, going into the “innermost cave” and facing “the supreme ordeal” will require something more than content. This is where your solution comes into play, and you’re now perfectly positioned to develop and offer it.
Whether you have an existing product or service or not, you’re now doing better than just guessing at what people want. You’ve metaphorically walked a mile in your market’s shoes.
You know what to do next based on serving the initial needs of real people, and you’ve earned the privilege of having your advice taken seriously. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to you, and it happened because you took care of others first.
At this point, your audience knows, likes, and trusts you. They may even be begging you to sell them something, which is a happily strange situation in our current cynical environment.
The action phase is basically about copywriting. Except you don’t need a hard sales pitch, because know, like, and trust make up about 85% of the battle.
Now, you craft the perfect offer because you understand who you’re talking to and what they want. You tell the perfect closing story because you understand what the supreme ordeal is for them. You know what is objectionable and what creates resistance, and how to coach them through it.
The acceleration phase is a gift that results from successfully taking people through the hero’s journey. In essence, you’ve earned the right to take them further than they initially anticipated.
That means you take people through the journey again from a content standpoint, but it’s compressed and easier. You have to make the audience realize that there’s a higher level, and you can take them there.
Don’t get arrogant here, because it’s easy to fall from grace. In other words, don’t succumb to the dark side.
Instead, be like Yoda. Become wealthy, you will.
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