- Thu, July 19 2012
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
I got quite a bit of mail from folks who were sorry to miss the recent Story Wars conversation I had with Jonah Sachs. Don’t worry - you can access a recording complete with PowerPoint here (free but registration required.)
One of the most interesting parts of the discussion was how every story needs a hero. I think nonprofits often think of heroes this way:
1. Telling the story of your cause with your nonprofit as the hero
2. Telling the story of your cause with your beneficiaries as the hero
Both of those can be effective, though I think #2 is a better idea than #1.
As we approach the Olympics, we’re going to hear a lot about athletic heroes. People like Brian Gumbel do a good job of bringing us to tears over these stories - and the reason we cry is we are told the athletes’ backstory, we relate to them as people, and we’re inspired by their determination to be swifter, faster stronger.
That’s really what it is to be a hero: to aspire to a greater version of ourselves. And isn’t that what we we help our supporters to do, in joining our cause?
Which brings me to Door Number 3.
3. Telling the story of your cause with your supporters as the heroes.
If you want to inspire people to action, make them a part of your story, playing a heroic role in the change you seek to effect. We all want to be part of that collective narrative.
In “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” Joseph Campbell wrote, “We have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with the world.”
I will not even attempt to say it better than that.