“Make your buyer the hero” is a pretty common battle cry in content marketing. Personally, I agree with it completely, and professionally, many of the best marketers in the business – even in the “Business to Business” business – have championed the concept. What often gets overlooked, though, is how heroic you actually have to be (behind the scenes as a content creator) in order to set the stage for your buyers to shine on their own. Luke Skywalker may have been the hero of the original Star Wars films, for example, but it took two of the greatest Jedi masters in Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda to get him there. As a content creator, you can’t just put your buyers on pedestals with capes and cowls and call them heroes; you have to have walked in your buyers’ shoes and have faced your buyers’ struggles in order to set them on their own paths to success. To make your buyer a hero with content marketing, you have to make yourself a mentor…
“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”
For the majority of most heroes’ story arcs, the most powerful person isn’t actually the hero; it’s the mentor. Until the hero or heroine is ready to stand alone, it’s often the mentor who has to face the most pressing challenges in order to ensure the growth and development of the pupil. As a content creator, mentoring your buyers into heroes doesn’t only entail preparing them to overcome their own challenges (plotting out their path to success with your product or service); it requires you to shield them from the situations they’re not ready for, and to stand by them in the conflicts that they can’t face alone.
Perhaps, in part, that’s why research shows that 92% of marketers rate high-quality content as valuable or very valuable to their organizations, but only 54% report being effective or very effective at producing such content. For the lagging 46% of marketers, they may be producing content to inform their buyers on how to use the power in a product or service, but they’re not using content to protect or empower their buyers as well. Sometimes that means creating content not for your immediate buyer, but for your buyer’s boss in order to support their case for a purchase. Sometimes it means creating content that has nothing to do with your product or service directly, but will help your buyers become better at what they do overall. Generally, though, you have a great amount of power at your disposal in the content you create, but with that power comes a great responsibility to enrich, entertain and excite your buyers down their own heroic path.
“Wax on, Wax off…”
The buyers you need to mentor through content marketing, however, are not all avid, excited, hand-raising individuals who actively aspire to be heroes. Within your target audience, you also have plenty of individuals with all the right stuff (demographics, firmographics, budget, need, etc.) to be successful buyers, but who have no idea of their own potential. As a mentor, you not only need to be able to recognize these individuals – a.k.a. identifying them as leads, which research shows 68% of marketers optimize by incorporating analytics – you also have to nurture these reluctant heroes / reluctant buyers into a more prepared state, often without them noticing what’s happening. Like Mr. Miyagi’s chore-filled tutelage of Daniel Larusso in The Karate Kid, you can use content to work valuable lessons into your buyers’ seemingly normal, everyday activities. Using third party research content aligned to your buyer’s industry or area of expertise, for example, can be a soft, casual touch, intended to help your buyer improve in his or her own role, but through careful selection of the content, can also emphasize a key value proposition for your product or service.
Be Prepared for the Learner to Become the Master
Your story as a content creating mentor to your buyer hero or heroine, though, doesn’t end like most hero/mentor stories. In such stories, to make the mentor/hero relationship more impactful, once the hero or heroine is ready, the mentor is usually struck down, surpassed, or otherwise sent off to greener pastures – usually with a closing line like “my job here is done…” As a content creator, though, when your buyer becomes a successful, heroic customer, your job is far from done. The sales cycle may be complete, but your role as a content creator is actually to become a student of your customer’s successes and translate those learnings into more content for new buyers. Measurably speaking, organizations that use customer insights, particularly across multiple channels, actually average 430% higher year-over-year increases in revenue from customer referrals than their peers, or, in other words, as a content marketing mentor, the more effective you are at making your buyer a hero, the more valuable your buyer becomes in driving revenue for your organization.
In the end, unlike typical stories, your relationships with your buyers shouldn’t actually have a proper ending. You’re at your best as a content marketing mentor when you can grow along with your buyers in a cycle of continuous improvement, but that’s not always happily ever after. It’s challenging, and it often requires you to be a hero in your own right, but when it all comes together, the results can be legendary…
Do you have any insights on making buyers heroes? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.