You may have heard of the Hero’s Journey, the concept taken from Joseph Campbell’s book Hero With A Thousand Faces.
There are numerous permutations of the journey, and Campbell mentions 17 in his book, but roughly speaking it follows this path.
- An ordinary person is leading an ordinary life
- An adventure calls
- The adventure gets rejected as being too difficult/dangerous/preposterous
- A mentor arrives to encourage /bully/cajole the hero into action
- The hero relents and immediately struggles and has a setback
- He or she thinks of quitting but pushes through with the help of the mentor
- The hero prevails (or dies if it’s a horror movie)
Did you know that it’s the outline for almost every Hollywood blockbuster?
And I’m not even remotely exaggerating.
All the Marvel movies follow the same plot, as does every Disney and Pixar release.
Similarly, each of the Star Wars films and blockbusters as diverse as Jaws, Ghostbusters, and Spartacus utilize some variation of this formula.
I haven’t seen The Joker that is currently setting new box office records, but I can guarantee you the framework will be roughly the same.
Why Life Coaches Need To Be Able To Tell Great Stories
But you’re a life coach, why is this even remotely interesting to you?
It’s because, if you are to succeed as a coach you need to become a powerful storyteller.
As human beings, we don’t use logic and reason to make purchasing decisions, we use emotion.
We then look to logic and reason to support that emotional reaction.
You probably think you’re different because this process usually happens so quickly that we are unaware of it as a conscious level – but you’re almost certainly not.
If I were to just send out information about the next Coach The Life Coach client attraction course (like I did in the last email) it’s highly unlikely I’d fill all the places because it doesn’t speak to your emotions.
Imagine I told you that I have a bottle of amber-colored liquid that smells quite nice and if you dab it on yourself, you will smell quite nice too.
Are you going to give me $100 for it?
Yet, people every day spend that and more on perfumes and colognes.
They’re not buying the product, they are buying the story they tell themselves of what that product means.
The same goes for people who buy a Ferrari, a bottle of expensive wine, or a house with three bedrooms more than they could possibly ever need.
And this isn’t just the preserve of high ticket items.
Do You Really Need Bottled Water?
There’s a story behind people who buy bottled water when the tap variety is fine in most first-world countries.
There’s another for people who spend money on Advil when any generic ibuprofen is exactly the same and far cheaper.
And there’s yet another for people who upgrade their perfectly functioning iPhone 7 so they can have a shiny new iPhone 11.
By the way, the last one is me.
Even though I knew I was telling myself a ridiculous story of why I *needed* a new iPhone, the story was so powerful I relented anyway.
Aren’t we strange fish?
One of the greatest skills a coach can have is the ability to weave metaphors and analogies into the coaching process.
Both allow the client to see things in a new light.
And in a nutshell that’s what we are paid to do – to help our clients see things differently.
But, it’s not enough to be able to tell stories when we’re coaching.
We need powerful stories to acquire clients in the first place.
You should be telling stories on your website, in your newsletter articles, and in your blog posts.
Similarly, when you meet people, face-to-face people, you should be using stories.
Yes, you can tell somebody that you’re a life coach and you help people do this or that and who knows, maybe some will be impressed.
But, most won’t.
I’m sorry to say it, but to them, you’re just another life coach vying for their attention.
Have You Defeated Any Metaphorical Dragons?
However, if you can tell them about past demons you have destroyed in hand-to-hand combat and dragons you put to the sword, then, presuming the stories are relevant to them, they will be impressed.
We don’t (or shouldn’t) use stories to manipulate or con, we use them to connect and explain.
You may think storytelling is hard and that it just doesn’t come naturally to you.
And you’d be right, but only because that’s the story you have adopted.
The reality is, that storytelling, like Hollywood blockbusters, follows a formula and anybody can learn it.
You just need the desire to try.
3 thoughts on “An Untapped Marketing Secret (the crazy power of storytelling)”
I’m interested in taking your next course on November 3rd.
Are you on my newsletter list Travis?
If so, there will be an email going out early tomorrow with the details.
If not, and there’s anything I can help with, please let me know.
I enjoyed reading your blog looking forward to having on Jennifer’s Perspectives to share story and experiences.