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You are a proud owner of a business, although it probably feels like it owns you. And you work tirelessly serving your customers to make it grow. But it has become increasingly difficult to stand out in what experts are calling the attention economy

Everyone is clamoring to be heard with selfies, 140-character tweets, six-second Vine videos, Facebook, LinkedIn, blah, blah, blogs.

Brands used to control mass media. Now the masses are the media.

To rise above the cacophony of the attention economy, businesses of all sizes are having success with the Story Cycle. We distilled this 10-step process from the timeless narrative structure of the ancients based on American mythologist Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.” It was inspired by the story artists of Hollywood, influenced by masters of persuasion, guided by trend spotters, and informed by how the mind grapples for meaning.

But the story is NOT about you or your brand. It is about your customer. Your brand is the mentor in the story, the Obi Wan Kenobi to your customer’s Luke Skywalker, the true hero of the journey. The more you and your brand understand and empathize with your customers’ stories, and how you can mentor them in their quest for a better life, the more abundant growth you will experience in all aspects of your business, and in your life.

As you explore the 10-step Story Cycle below, picture how the process is already playing out in your business, in the lives of your employees, with your customers, and in your own personal journey.

The Story Cycle will help you connect the values and your and your brand share with your customers.

The Story Cycle will help you connect the values and your and your brand share with your customers.

 

Step 1: Backstory:

Where in the world have you have you been, where are you now, and where are you going? The backstory helps you quickly articulate your #1 position in the marketplace: what you do better than anyone else. This is your first step out of the primordial muck of commoditization creating meaning in the hearts and minds of your audiences for your brand.

Step 2: Hero:

Who is your #1 audience – the hero of your brand story – and what do they care about? You can use the same 10-steps of the Story Cycle to create a unique audience persona for each of your target markets.

Step 3: Stakes:

What does your hero want as it relates to the product or service you offer, and how does their quest intersect with the goals and aspirations you have for your brand?

Step 4: Disruption:

Without change and the conflict it creates in our lives, there is no market opportunity or story. What has changed, is changing, or needs to change in your hero’s life – and in the market – to make your offering timely, relevant, and irresistible? Are you instigating the change (being disruptive) or responding to something that has changed? This is when you articular your unique value proposition.

Step 5: Antagonists:

What are the obstacles and antagonists – both external and internal – that your hero must overcome on their journey with your brand?

Step 6: Mentor:

What is your brand’s unique position, promise, and personality and how will it help your hero on their quest? Of the 12 fundamental archetypes, which one best characterizes your brand?

Step 7: Journey:

What does the customer interaction with your brand look like and what are the success and failures they will experience along the way? How might your customer experience buyer’s remorse and how will you help them avoid or overcome it?

Step 8: Victory:

When do you anticipate your customer will experience their first real success with your brand, how will they know it, and how will you be there to celebrate it with them?

Step 9: Moral:

What is the moral of your story that connects the values you and your brand share with your customers?

Step 10: Ritual:

Wash, rinse, repeat: How will you create such compelling customer engagement that they adopt a ritualistic use of your product or service?

Now that you’ve traveled through the Story Cycle, you will begin to see it everywhere in your life. It is a virtuous cycle that expands customer engagement with every revolution. Your brand helps your customers become figuratively bigger, better, faster and stronger by weaving your story with their story.

The Story Cycle naturally plays to how our brains are hardwired to create meaning out of the stories we encounter. So while technological advancements and our narcissistic race to get noticed is causing the masses to publish and broadcast blips and bytes of information, I find it ironic that the ancient structure of story is still the most proven and powerful way to connect with people and create abundance in everyone’s lives.

Are you and your brand story built?

 

About Park Howell

Park Howell is a trusted brand story strategist, sought-after speaker on story marketing, and is the professor of storytelling in the Executive Masters of Sustainability Leadership at Arizona State University.

He has helped international brands, including Coca Cola, Beyer Pharmaceutical, Cummins Diesel, American Express, and United States Air Force. The Business of Story podcast is a widely popular and helps brands connect with customers and achieve epic growth. Contact Park to have him speak at your company event or conference.