Using the Hero’s Journey to Create Content

Did you know that your content, no matter what type of content it is, should be telling a story? 

Our brains are hardwired for narrative so it only makes sense that stories would help you better connect with your audience. 

There’s so much data to back this up that we can’t even begin to cover it all but here are a few facts:

  • By delivering your message through storytelling, you can make it up to 22x more effective.
  • Studies have shown that only 10-15% of an audience will recall specific bullet points just 5 minutes after a presentation; but they’ll recall 80% of the story-based, narrative elements
  • Humans have been telling stories since the beginning of time 

This means that no matter the type of content you are creating, you should be telling some sort of story. Stories help us connect. Stories evoke emotions. Stories make people care. People don’t care about facts. They care about characters and narratives. 

But how can you tell a story in your content if you don’t consider yourself a storyteller? Use the ultimate storytelling tool, The Hero’s Journey. 

Note: This is not the same thing as the Hero Archetype. To learn more about archetypes please visit Brand Archetypes.

What is the Hero’s Journey?

The Hero’s Journey is a storytelling formula originally identified by Joseph Campbell. The Hero’s Journey is complicated and contains a lot of details but the basic idea is that it’s a structure most stories should follow in order to deliver a satisfying tale. 

Here’s what you should know about the Hero’s Journey:

There are 3 Main Acts:

  • The Departure Act
  • The Initiation Act
  • The Return Act

Departure: The hero leaves his ordinary world in order to fulfill some sort of quest or complete a task. 

Initiation: He is tested and meets many challenges on his journey but eventually completes his quest. 

Return: He returns to his ordinary world wiser than when he left. 

Within these 3 Acts, there are 13 Steps. 

The 13 Steps:

  • The Ordinary World
  • The Call of Adventure
  • Refusal of the Call
  • Meeting the Mentor
  • Tests, Allies, Enemies
  • The Ordeal
  • Reward (Seizing the Sword)
  • The Road Back
  • Return with the Elixir

You might recognize these acts and steps from tales such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Odyssey, and more. Not every story follows it exactly, but almost every story has elements of it. 

Using The Hero’s Journey To Create Content

Now you might be wondering, so what? What does this have to do with me? Before you start creating content, you can use the Hero’s Journey in two ways. You can use it to tell your business story or you can use it to make your audience the hero.  

Your Business Story

While it’s a best practice to make your audience (customer, clients) the hero, if you’re a new business it might be worth creating a connection with your audience by telling your story. You can do this by treating the Hero’s Journey as a sort of outline for your content. 

Try asking yourself these questions, inspired by the Hero’s Journey:

What called you to your business?

Was there a particular moment in your life that told you that the world needed your business? What was it? Audiences love to feel connected to the companies they do business with and telling your “origin story” can help you bond with your audience. 
Like Harry was called to join the wizarding world by a letter and a big, hairy wizard, what was your “Call to Adventure?”

Who Are Your Mentors?

Every hero has a mentor. Harry has Dumbledore. Frodo has Gandalf. Luke Skywalker has Obi-Wan. Who guided you on your business journey and how can they help your audience? 

How Have You Changed?

Or, what lessons have you learned along the way and how can those lessons help your audience? No hero is the same after their adventure and the things they learn about themselves and the world can be valuable lessons that everyone can learn from. Don’t keep your lessons to yourself–share them with the world. 

Make Your Audience The Hero

Donald Miller, the author of Building a Story Brand, says you should always make your customer the hero. If you’re not sure how to do this, just use the Hero’s Journey in the same way you used it to tell your own story. Here are a few questions you can ask to find the right stories to tell about your hero, the customer. 

What Would Make Them Refuse a Call?

In every good story, there’s always that moment where the hero refuses to believe they are the one that needs to complete the quest or save the princess or destroy the ring. They don’t believe they are capable of greatness. 

You know what actions you want your audience to take, but what would make them think they shouldn’t take those actions? Pinpoint those doubts then share a story about how to overcome them. 

Who Are Their Enemies?

OK, enemies might be a strong word but every hero has obstacles they will face on the way to complete their tasks and it’s your job to help them identify and overcome those obstacles. As the hero of their own story, they need tools. You can give them the tools they need to defeat their enemies and meet their goals. 

You can use these questions, and the Hero’s Journey formula to shape social media posts, blogs, campaigns, emails, and more. Just remember, audiences don’t relate to bullet points–they relate to stories, to people, to challenges, to successes…to heroes. 

About Zeedia Media: We create killer content for all sorts of things. We know all the words, “because words matter!” Contact Zeedia Media for content, branding, and social media management. We can also help you with your online reputation if you aren’t happy about what people are saying about you. Let’s exchange some words–the good kind! Contact us today!

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