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How to make more hero's out of your journeys

Our last blog on Hero's Journey's created a bit of discussion, and became part of a few industry forums recently, and so I thought I would track back, and share some thoughts on HOW you can make more hero's journeys in your work.

The 'Hero's Journey' has 3 parts - and (depending on who you ask) - 12 to 17 steps.

So how does this work?

Well there are actually millions of examples of hero's journeys in our events and programs, but here’s a few that you might relate to, stories that you can translate for your work.

Your Hero's Journeys also have 3 parts - and (if you ask me) 12 influential steps* on each journey our participants go on.

* formed from hundreds of interviews, ‘The Pulse’ experiential project observations, and industry research.

From the Boys & Girls ...

Many of us are lucky to have little heroes in our lives, and it's been fascinating for me to see their journeys into sport, with similar but different experiences as stepping stones into these new worlds.

Both in playing sport, and in watching it… the triggers that have been around them, both from the providers, and the things around them, have influenced the paths they are taking. It is these influential experiences they've had, to experience, share, and the next ones to anticipate, have been highly influential in the paths they are (or are not) taking.

So whether it be the young, or old(er), the triggers we put in front of people, will decide whether they sign up and whether they show up again. And there will be hurdles, challenges and potential deal breakers that they face, so we need to design journeys and experiences that navigate around these barriers and have them looking for that next step.

... to the Youth of Today

The clever brands realised a long time ago that the youth of the world set the trends of the rest of us. Not only do they influence what the rest of us do, but it also influences what paths they take for the rest of thier lives. What they buy, what they follow, what they do.

I had the pleasure of working with Nike for many years, and learned there are ‘influential windows’ in our lives, and in these phases people make decisions and form beliefs, many of which some become life long decisions that they don’t change for a long time - like what they believe in, what brands they like, what banks to bank with, and... what sports they do (or don’t) play.

Nike, and the smart operators also know the 'Lifetime Customer Value' is greater the earlier you start with the brand, and I think we all know there is a critical cross roads in young peoples lives where many choose to keep active with us, or not.

And so if we as experience providers can make people feel like heroes in those moments, they not only like us, but they become loyal to us, for longer.

... but sometimes we get lost

As we know all journeys come to and end, but sometimes earlier than we hope. And it's the same with people's relationships with our events and programs.

We were doing some research recently, and some of the best kind, speaking to people, and some interesting stories emerged. A common but fatal pattern was of people dropping off the journey with an event, a program, the whole sport, or even turning away from an active lifestyle. And on every occasion, it was the experience that they had had, that decided what they did (or in these cases did not do) next.

There was often some reluctance to participate, but more often a keenest to be active. And then the challenges and barriers seemed to grow, but even if they did keep going, the balance between 'should I or shouldn't I', tipped towards not doing it again.

And the journey ended, the pathway was shut.

Across the seasons ... across our lives ...

Unfortunately many journey's with an event or program end there, and unfortunately therefore, also meant a breakup with that sport. Which is a real shame, as once we have taken people on a journey, we really want them to feel like they will stay with us and do it again and again. And sometimes people pick up the journey again, in another event or program, participating in the same way, or in different ways, playing, coaching, coordinating, or, in another sport or type of activity.

So it is up to us to keep putting journeys in front of people, to keep them showing up again, and again.

... to the oldies

Many of my friends have had our own experience with good, and not so good experiences, preparing, during and after an event, and as we reflected, we decided whether we would do it again. And while life's external influences, the commitments of wider life certainly play a big role in that decision, ultimately the experiences we were having when we did show up, has decided who keeps coming back again.

Or, whether we’ve looked to go on new and different journeys.

My cycling buddies provide a typical sample of what our research also shows us. Of the ten or so in our group, it was two who were the instigators to signing up some of the others. And eventually, the rest followed in the years to come. And in that ten, a few signed up once, a few more signed up for longer, and a couple are still showing up.

Many events and programs have a similar trend with their heroes' journeys - and depending on a few key factors - but mainly depending on quality of the experience - people will show up again and again, but not for the same thing forever.

But if you design the experience right, to offer the right journeys, again, and again, more people will keep signing up, for longer.

... and everyones a hero!

As Nike's famous missions statement says "if you have a body, you are an athlete"... and I’m sure it is the same for your event, program or activity, everyone you want to serve should feel like they can participate, to share their interest in the activity you're offering, and, most importantly, feel like they are supported by you.

So that they go on your Hero's Journey, to sign up, show up, and share the experience again, and again, with you.

I hope these simple tools and examples give you a guide to map out some journeys.

If you need some help with this, please just let me know!

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