When you tell a great story of your business, product or service, who are you aiming your story at? This is the most important question I ask all my clients – “who is your ideal customer?”

Notice I didn’t ask, “who is your average customer?” as your average customer is generally not the person you want the most. Most often your average customer is not the one that generates the most profit. Your ideal customer on the other hand, is the one that causes the least hassle and pays their bills promptly, without fuss. So, you want to target your adverting at the person you want to attract to your business.

Every great story has a protagonist – the person in the story that has to change in some way in order to give the story meaning and purpose. After all, if nothing changes and there is no great revelation within a story, then you would leave the cinema or put down the book and say “So what?” – and the same is true for your advertising.

Every story needs a protagonist and the protagonist has to grow in some way to give purpose to the story, and this is true for your marketing story as well. When you create great narrative to promote your business products and services, then you need to have your very own protagonist at the centre of your story.

Take for example the TV commercial for the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD. This ad has a very clear protagonist, a busy mum with a 101 things to do every day. Which busy mum doesn’t identify with this and the problem of dropping things and putting them in the wrong place? The protagonist in this case is just learning why she bought the Kindle instead of the iPad.

Take this commercial from 1983 for Yellow pages (the pre-Internet version of Google). In this ad the protagonist is J R Hartley, he spends time searching for a book using the old fashioned way of travelling from shop to shop, only to return home empty handed. Then he is handed a copy of the Yellow Pages to phone shops instead of visiting them and the scene closes with him finally finding the book. This is a typical quest story and the protagonist reaches his goal because he uses the Yellow Pages.

Your business must have a protagonist. In marketing terms this is referred to as your avatar – the ideal customer. For example, if your product is aimed squarely at married men in their 40s, then you need to have a protagonist as a married man in his 40s.

Now you need to create the story around him. You have to identify their problem and include a positive shift in their fortunes as a result of using your product or service.

Intel have long been the largest microprocessor manufacturer, but in recent years they have seen massive competition from the likes of ARM in the mobile space. They have also seen that a lot of tablet users are frustrated that they can’t always do the same as they can with their laptop, so then end up with both. Having identified this problem, they are working on shifting the buying criteria of the business user with this ad. In this ad the protagonist doesn’t even speak.

Nothing speaks to your ideal customer more than experiencing the benefits of your product or service from their point of view. Once they have bought your product the job has been done, but until then you have to get them to identify with your protagonist.

Your protagonist needs three things:

  1. They must have a problem or challenge that your target audience can identify with.
  2. They must be the type of person your target audience can identify with in terms of age, gender and social group.
  3. There must be clear synergy between them, your product and your target audience. If there is any disconnect at all, your message will fall down at this point.

When you incorporate all these factors into your advertising, you get to power through the questions your target audience have and fit their key desires fast.

So, from this post and the last you have the plot of your story and the protagonist, but what should the narrative be? We will cover that in the next post.

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