Some 130,000 fans converged on San Diego this weekend for Comic-Con, a once thinly attended affair reserved for uber geeks talking about funny books that has evolved into a mecca for anyone with a place in their heart for a good hero story.
What makes the tales of Superman, Batman, Spider-man, and now Ant-man, successful is that they incite a passion among followers. These stories then transform these followers into loyalists who become ambassadors. Too often, whether it’s B2C or B2B marketing and communications pros, we tap the wrong sources of information from our clients to use to connect with audiences. One solution – we all should look to the pages of comic books for inspiration.
How do we do that? Let’s count the ways based on the popular story tropes from some of the most famous crusaders.
Bruce Banner, alter ego of The Hulk, goes from being the smartest guy in the room to being the biggest, strongest and greenest. Among many other things, his stories teach us that we often should rely on the scientific approach, rather than the emotional, to address the problem. This is particularly apt when talking money.
How did he become Spider-man? A relatable origins story always sells. When you’re launching the brand, get to the heart of the matter by focusing on the people who are responsible for its existence. What makes them special? Is it their decades of experience? Is it their unique vision for a better world? What obstacles existed that they overcame to get to this place? Spidey fans love the web head because many of them were conflicted, but smart, high school kids just like him.
Daredevil used blindness to develop other super senses. There’s strength in understanding a business’s weakness. Identify what value it brings to an audience and understand how recognizing a vulnerability, either in the business or in the marketplace, can lead to innovation. No brand started out great, just like Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, wasn’t born a blind hero of Hell’s Kitchen who also happened to be a lawyer.
Even Superman can’t be everywhere. Know you can’t solve all of the world’s problems, nor should you try. Keep the story focused on the business mission, which shouldn’t be all things to all people. The most successful brands satisfy a need in a specific community. In the best cases, businesses create a need that didn’t exist in the first place. Such innovation isn’t limited to saving distressed female reporters as they fall from skyscrapers.
The mask will work for Batman, but not you. We also can take away from these stories a lesson on what not to do. Disguises, in the business world, don’t work because people trust only who they know. Transparency and honesty is the law: there can be no cape or cowl.
Without the Joker, there is no Batman. You and the problem your company is solving are not so dissimilar from Batman and The Crown Prince of Crime – the problem is separating you and your customers from a desired outcome. Just like in Gotham, a mix of instability or uncertainty can complicate the market. Use this to help create a demand and amplify the client’s importance in the real world.
Now, suit up.