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Giving Grace: A Hero’s Journey

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The year 2020 has been an absolute wreck for many of us. Times like these call for a high level of empathy, the ability to put on someone else’s shoes and take a walk around in them. This ability to show compassion in business is a strength. It helps us understand what customers may be feeling, relate to them and motivate them to invest in the tools you bring to the table.

The Dalai Lama once said, “Looking at various means of developing compassion, I think empathy is an important factor: the ability to appreciate others’ suffering.”

For example, if you are struggling to relate with your customer, now is the time to map their journey to success. You’ll find many customers within the same demographics will have a very similar path they follow. By identifying key landmarks along the way, you can better understand the emotions at each stage and how you can help them make the transition and take the next step.

The Hero’s Journey
In 2007, screenwriter, author and educator Christopher Vogler published The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. In it, Vogel describes a pattern in literature and mythical storytelling in which the hero in the story follows a cycle of being called to adventure, encountering fabulous forces, winning victory and returning to bestow a new gift to his fellow man and common life. The story you’re writing needs to feature the customer as the hero, not your business. If you consider yourself as the mentor or helper, you will have a much easier time helping people chart their own course. You could even make a profit selling maps and your expertise as their guide.

Describe the Landmarks
Here are some basic landmarks along the way to consider adding to your customer’s emotional map based on Vogel’s outline.

• The Ordinary World: Life before the problem or the catalyst causing a customer to seek out your offering.

The Call to Adventure: The catalyst, the feeling of desiring better or frustration with the status quo.

• Refusal of the Call: The customer who won’t buy, is interested, but won’t engage.

• Meeting with the Mentor: They meet you (or your competitor) and figure out what they need.

• Crossing the First Threshold: The exact moment the customer commits and joins your team. 

• Tests, Allies and Enemies: These moments pop up when we least expect them. It’s our job to guide the hero through these moments.

• Approach to the Innermost Cave: They’re halfway through and have long ago left the comfort of what once was. The end is not in sight. It’s exciting to imagine what could be, but it may also be scary.

• The Ordeal: Your customer will face the greatest challenge yet and may encounter a sense of trepidation, looking to you for guidance.

• Reward: The customer gets a taste of the results they were working toward.

• The Road Back: This is the off-boarding process when customers are wrapping things up or continuing on a long path to a more complex solution.

• The Resurrection: A time of realization when the customer experiences a final revelation and feeling of accomplishment and joy before leaving you to return to their normal world.

• Return with the Elixir: Your customer is now equipped with every tip, trick, hack and solution you guided them to use. If everything went well, they are now advocates for your brand and will shout from the mountain top to other “heroes” who are just starting their journey.

Be Their Guide
Just reading these 12 steps can get my heart racing! When you consider all the emotions your clients may experience before, during and after investing in your product or service, it’s no wonder so many can get lost along their way! It’s our job to give grace and help others make this arduous journey. Giving grace is not an excuse to stop the quest toward success. Don’t give up on your heroes.

Written by: Marie Newell

Marie Newell is a seasoned graphic designer turned marketer who has has led teams behind the scenes for local major players including Joe Machens Dealerships, Brookside and Columbia College. A graduate of the University of Central Missouri with a BFA in Graphic Design, Newell lived in the Columbia area for over a decade. Earlier this year, she relocated her digital agency, Neat + Nimble to Hermann, Missouri. @neatandnimble