He’s the first man to ever win three Oscars. Daniel Day Lewis, that is.
For his Academy Award-winning performance in My Left Foot, he didn’t leave his wheelchair, speak coherently, or even feed himself…for the entire filming. For Last of the Mohicans he became a survivalist living off the land. For In the Name of the Father, he lived in a prison cell. He starved himself and asked the cast and crew to abuse him verbally. When playing Abraham Lincoln, he even signed his texts “A”.
Daniel’s style of acting, method acting, requires him to completely become his character. To live in their skin. Which is a really powerful skill to have as a marketer.
Because according to the Launch Tomorrow triangle, 67% of your sales variation comes from deeply understanding your prospect. Grab the free intro to Launch Tomorrow to find out more.
Yet beyond just stressing the importance of choosing and understanding that persona, I didn’t really find one that I felt really delivered the goods. To be fair, there are a few lot of tools out there to develop customer personas. The personas they helped me develop seemed like cardboard cutout versions of a real person. Particularly when it comes to deep empathy with a customer.
Because even though you might be able to belt out your customer’s demographic information from under the table before closing time, that’s not enough. “Stats” don’t really help you understand your customers’ real motivations. And that’s what actually matters.
So I came up with the Hero Canvas.
The Hero Canvas is analogous to a Business Model Canvas, to help map out the specific characteristics and drivers of important characters in your marketing/product story. For example, your prospects, when you’re off doing customer development, are critical to your success (see triangle thingy above).
- It helps you get out of your own head, to enable you to achieve empathy with your persona
- You target a narrower and more specific segment of people, thus focussing your resources more effectively
- Understand the emotional life of your prospects, so that you connect effortlessly
The Hero Canvas helps you step out of your own head.
If you want to walk thousand miles in other person’s shoes, you must first take off your own. Kinda obvious, and yet hard to do. This is part of the seismic shift from thinking about your solution to thinking about the customer’s problem.
For example, when preparing for his role as Abraham Lincoln, Day-Lewis visited the White House in order to see Lincoln’s manuscript of his famous manifesto–the Gettysburg Address. Did he need to? Maybe not. But it was an opportunity to figure out what made Lincoln tick. To see how Lincoln wrote. How Lincoln edited his masterpiece. It helped Day-Lewis stop thinking about himself, in order to grok Lincoln.
You target a narrower segment of people with a Hero Canvas, conserving resources.
Segmenting affects the success of your entire business, not just your marketing. Especially if you’re tight on budget.
Think about it this way. You walk into a large hall. There’s an event on. It’s attracted your target market, as you currently understand it. Who are the first few people you’d want to speak to? Why, the ones who would be the most likely buy into your approach or your product. What did you look for first, when figuring out who to approach?
What if you could only focus your entire business on people exactly like that, to the exclusion of everyone else in the hall? What if you could easily identify only those people, and ignore everyone else until you had a great solution for them?
- You’d build a solution that is more attractive for them
- It would be easier for you to sell to them, and thus achieve dominance (#1 position) in that smaller niche
- You could focus 100% of your resources on a smaller homogeneous group, as opposed to only part of your resources
- You would develop a well-deserved reputation as a specialist for this group, which would translate to higher profits
In slightly more practical terms, here’s how I apply it in my own business.
I’ve used the Hero Canvas to create an anti-hero. Think: getting Bizzaro when trying to reach Superman.
Understand the emotional life of your prospects, so you connect effortlessly.
- You print out the canvas
- As you interview your prospects or buyers, you start to pick up on specific details.
- You write these down on post-its or directly on the canvas
Alternatively, you can just use it to document all of your assumptions about your target persona, before you go out to interview. Then do the above.