Taking Prospects on a Journey With You: The Odyssey Example
Remember 9th grade English class? If you think back, you may remember a unit on epic stories with heroes that go from one place to another, make tough decisions, and come out on top against all odds.
For me, the epic is that kind of story that catches my interest the most. It’s funny, as I work with my clients, Homer’s Odyssey comes to my mind a lot. I remember it fondly not just because I enjoyed the story, but because the journey that Homer details can teach business owners a lot about marketing communication.
And if you can take your prospects on a journey, you will be able to make an impact that shows them how you offer solutions, instead of merely telling them.
Here’s the difference between telling and showing. Telling announces the benefits, and it will bore your prospects. Showing, on the other hand, allows your prospects to actually visualize the solutions you offer. You can think of this in terms of differentiating between features and benefits.
Now, how exactly do you ‘tell’ the difference?
You can use Homer’s Odyssey to learn how to take your prospects on a journey with you, and outline your own story about why you decided to go into business in the first place.
Let’s start with the main character, Odysseus. In Latin, his name literally translates as “trouble.” With that in mind, when you take your readers on a journey in your marketing message, you need to…
- Outline their troubles with concrete examples.
- Identify how you too experienced those same problems.
- Illustrate a big picture that will show them where they are now and where they will go in the future.
In other words, don’t say something to the effect of, “We help people who want to increase their revenue.” Instead, weave your problem-and-solution schematic into a story by creating a marketing message that illustrates how one of your clients struggled to get exposure, but with your help, you created a path for them to lock in X number of clients and X amount of money.
Prospects will see these specifics and visualize what will happen for them when they work with you.
This method not only provides concrete examples of benefits, but it also keeps interest longer. In fact, recent studies have shown that the brain absorbs 90% more images than text, but your website has to have a written message so serious buyers can learn more.
When you frame your marketing message using the journey method, you enable yourself to create images with words. (In other words: two birds, one stone.)
How did Homer create images with words?
A perfect example would be after Odysseus conquers a Cyclops and escapes some pesky Sirens, the scene wherein his journey is complete and he returns home.
For the duration of the story, Odysseus worries that he will not return home in time to reestablish his relationship with his wife and son. (Early on it’s established that once Odysseus’ son grows a beard, Odysseus will be assumed dead, and his wife will be eligible for marriage.)
So with that conflict clearly established, Homer creates the solution with an imagistic method instead of merely telling readers. So instead of saying, “Odysseus felt jealous,” Homer shows his readers that jealousy by highlighting how the hero shoots an arrow through 12 axe heads and slays all of his wife’s prospective suitors.
I don’t advocate such violence; but I do believe in the power of storytelling, and how you can show prospects how you will solve problems by taking them on a journey with you. Leave the bow and arrow at home, but use images to show how you solve problems.
Would love to know your thoughts. Tell me about why you buy a certain product in the comments below.