At the end of the hit musical “Hamilton”, the characters ask, “Who lives? Who dies? Who tells your story?” While history is written by the winners and the survivors, you have the opportunity to tell your company’s unique story.
As part of Madison, WI’s recent Forward Festival, I had the chance to hear the owners of Storyfirst Media, the father/son team of David and Michael Neelsen, talk about how they help businesses tell their story.
The Neelsen’s philosophy is that every successful story – whether it’s a novel, a film, or a testimonial video about your company – has four essential elements: characters, universal values, high stakes and dramatic choices (it already sounds good, right?). While your story’s stakes and choices are likely unique to your business, the characters in your story, whether you realize it or not, will belong to one of the classic story archetypes.
While it’s tempting to cast your company as the hero of your story, it’s not the only choice. In fact, in most cases, your customer should be the hero, and your company plays the role of one of the other common archetypes.
So if you’re not the hero, who are you? As the article linked above shows, it’s easy to see what archetype huge brands like Apple or The North Face adopt. But what if you’re a small business? The answer lies in how your small business helps its customers achieve their goals:
- If you run a hair salon, you can be The Lover and your story is about how you make the hero feel fantastic about herself.
- A bar or restaurant might choose to be The Jester and their story is all about entertaining the hero on his well-deserved night-on-the-town.
- An accountant could be The Ruler – giving the hero the piece of mind that comes from hiring an expert in their field.
- An auto shop might cast themselves in the role of the regular guy – the reliable everyman who’s going to get his heroes back on the road.
You get the idea. The point is to think of your customers as the stars of your story. And even though you’re taking a supporting role, remember, there are no small parts – especially when you’re a small business.