Make Your Audience The Hero

Whether you’re reading this on a device designed by Apple or not, you’d be hard pressed to deny that the company has developed product storytelling into a real art form.


This morning I watched the most recent “Apple Special Event” and marveled at the way they elevated a product launch into theatre.


I was particularly impressed by the video above [here’s an alternate youtube link]. Tim Cook introduced the clip saying People reach out to Apple all the time to say how Apple Watch is helping them live healthier lives. Here, real customers read the actual stories they shared.”


In the video, Apple has made their customers the heroes of the story. Instead of leading with an overview of the elegance of the watch’s industrial design or its technical features, they shared feedback from people who have been changed by using the Apple Watch.


The video elicits an emotional response as you watch the stories, and by featuring people from different countries, backgrounds, ages and situations the company positions the watch as being a tool that can ‘improve your life’ rather than merely a toy for the young tech crowd.


By shining a spotlight on these customers, Apple signals that their fans and users are important to the company as human beings. By association when they acknowledge some of their fans, they are reaching out to all of them.


In Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics, Jackie Huba describes how Gaga makes her fans feel like rock stars themselves.


During the Monster Ball Tour, the star would phone a fan in the audience. The crowd sees her dial the number on stage and the sound of the phone ringing fills the arena. When the fan answers “Hello?” a video camera in the audience projects their image onto the giant video screens. Gaga says hi, compliments them on what they’re wearing and invites them backstage after the show to have a drink.


By doing this, the star focuses the spotlight on the audience. When she acknowledges one fan, the rest of the arena shares a collective sense of excitement and probably wishes they had been the one answering the call.


Then Gaga says to the fan “I’m sending up some people who are going to bring you and your friends down to the front of the stage so you can have a better view of the concert.”


As Huba writes: For [the fan], this is life-changing. You can just imagine what this fan is experiencing. Their ido has just spoken to them on the phone, complimented them, gotten them a seat in front of the stage, and given them a backstage pass. It doesn’t get any better than this for a superfan. This is something they will tell everyone they know. Even the fans that just saw this happen will relay the experience to other fans.


This is a lesson worth remembering for both businesses and artists. Make your audience, customers and fans the heroes of the stories you and others tell about your work.


Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist (though everyone reading this is an artist in one way or another) or in business (and if you’re an artist you are in business whether you acknowledge it or not) you can still apply this lesson.


There is someone in your life who’s day you could change right now by treating them like a rock star. Whether it’s shining a spotlight on how much you value a family member, by singling out one of your colleagues and reminding the rest of the team how much you appreciate her contributions. Or just let your barista know that his smile and the cool patterns he draws on the top of your coffee help make this your favourite cafe.


I’d love to hear about an occasion when you were made the hero of a story or treated like a rock star and what that meant to you. As always, you can email me here.

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