Buyer’s Journey vs Hero’s Journey

What is the Hero’s Journey?

Joseph Campbell is a genius. If you don’t know what this person has done, I beg of you to check his take on the stories we grew up on. Believe me, it will change your perspective on almost every single movie or book you have or will come across. The Hero’s Journey. It actually is as mind-blowing as its name is intriguing. Read on to find out more!

The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a well-known work by Joseph Campbell, an American mythology scholar. Campbell uncovered numerous similar themes running across hero myths and stories from all over the world during his lengthy studies.

Years of research led Campbell to finding three fundamental stages — similar to those of the buyer’s journey — that nearly every hero-quest passes through (regardless of what culture the myth originates from). He refers to this shared structure as “the monomyth,” which  is collectively regarded as “The Hero’s Journey.”

So, What is the Buyer’s Journey?

The buyer’s journey outlines the phases that a shopper goes through before making a purchase. These phases are 3, in general, being: awareness, consideration, and decision. During the first phase, the buyer is looking for an answer to a problem they’re facing. At this point, they aren’t aware of what can solve said problem. 

During the second phase, the buyer would have developed a clearer idea of why they’re facing said problem and have begun looking at potential solutions. At this point, shoppers would be attracted to content that explains how to solve the problems they’re facing. The third phase is when the buyer’s journey comes to an end. 

Once shoppers have reached this point, they are no longer looking for solutions, rather for which company can best respond to their pain points and help them resolve the issues they’re facing; this is where they decide whom to purchase from.

Steps of the Hero’s Journey

There are 12 steps or phases, but since this isn’t a literature paper (unfortunately for me), I will only be mentioning and briefly explaining the steps that can be linked to the buyer’s journey. 

For those of you who aren’t interested in going into the details, the steps can be summarized as such: 

“Status Quo → Disruption → Information → Evaluation → Commitment”

“Life → Incident → Diagnosis → Treatment → Change → New Life”

Problem → Awareness → Consideration → Decision → Improvement

But the reading is worthwhile, so:

  • “Ordinary Life” This is when the hero is living a normal life with no apparent threats or difficulties. The prospect is unaware that they have an issue that needs to be resolved; they aren’t looking for answers yet.
  • “The Call to Adventure” This is when the hero realizes that there is a certain issue that needs to be addressed, paralleling the buyer’s attention to that same thing. The next step in the hero’s journey is refusal, where the hero disregards the problem (until it becomes unbearable) and then decides to take action. Here, the buyer still isn’t completely sure that they need to resolve said issue because it “isn’t that bad” but then – gasp of shock – it gets that bad, and so the journey begins.
  • “Tests, Allies, and Enemies” This is when the hero looks at the “special” world and compares their life to others’. Here, the “hero’s gang” is formed and they often face opponents that contradict the adventure that the hero and their gang are set on completing. When it comes to the buyer’s journey, this step is similar to when a buyer starts their research into the causes behind the problems they’re facing. They ask a bunch of questions and are exposed to different elements that could be causing said problems. They test, form alliances (being the cause of their problems), and face enemies (wrong diagnoses or misleading information).
  • “The Ordeal” This is when the hero comes face-to-face with a difficult situation and has to come up with the most effective way to overcome it. This is paralleled with the buyer finding different potential solutions to their problems. In other words, this is when the buyer has to assess the different companies’ offerings to know which is the best fit for their problems. The work is challenging, but so worth the reward.
  • “Reward” This is when the hero gets the “reward” after their hard work. Here, the hero is on the right track and finally reaches the solution to their problems.  When it comes to the buyer, reaching this step follows looking at different brands’ offerings and comparing them to know which best suits their needs. And they choose one. Hopefully yours.
  • “The Road Back” This is when the hero has completed their journey and is ready to head back home from the special world to the ordinary one. The hero has completed their journey and has overcome the ordeal. When it comes to the buyer, they’re at the post-decision phase. Here, they’ve become a paying customer to a specific brand and are on the path to a life devoid of the issue that was troubling them.
  • “Return with the Elixir” This is when the hero returns back to their ordinary world, and it concludes their journey. They acquired all the needed elements to lead a “normal,” worry-free life. Their problem is gone.  This is similar to when the buyer’s journey is complete, as in after they’ve resolved the issue they were facing.

Hero’s Journey and Buyer’s Journey

Now, why is this brief overview of an epic narrative important to your business? Here is where several companies go awry. They believe their company is the hero, poised to save the damsel. But you’re not really the hero of this narrative — the buyer is, and they’re kind of stuck. 

Your client depends on the support of a counselor, much like the hero needs an advisor or a team. Your company is that mentor, and your offering is the hidden sword that will assist your client triumphantly complete their Hero’s Journey.

Consumers today have access to more alternatives and information than before. They must understand why your solution is the logical choice for them. You must provide them with the tools they need to prosper on their journey.

You will become the figure of authority if you deliver value at each stage of the Buyer’s Journey. Your clients will want to purchase from you, and they might recommend you to their friends as well.

How do you target each phase? How do you know what to write, for whom to write, and how to write? This is at once simple and complicated. It’s simple because, in theory, dividing the awareness, consideration, and decision stages is pretty straightforward once you’ve grasped the concept and meaning of each. However, in practice, this is much more difficult to achieve. You must know exactly what to do to target each stage of the hero’s journey – I mean the buyer’s journey.

This being said, check out this article for insight on what type of content to develop for each of the phases of the buyer’s journey!

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