Rebooting Your Origin Story

One of the things I find tremendously valuable is gathering periodically with a mastermind group. This is a community of peers, sometimes even competitors, that meets to share, inspire, educate, cheer, commiserate, and even occasionally critique to help each other become better. I’ve just come back from one such gathering feeling renewed for Spring!

During our time together, I had the privilege of a one-on-one conversation with an extraordinary woman who handles investment strategy for many consumer and entertainment media brands. We were discussing the idea of stories and how we create content for various strategies. She recounted a conversation she had with the head of Marvel Studios about how Marvel balances origin stories with the need to occasionally reboot popular hero arcs.

As it turns out, Marvel sees the new origin stories as a critical piece of keeping a story “alive” and relevant to new and different audiences. But, as much as audiences see some of these new stories (Black Panther and Wonder Woman come to mind) as well-timed against the zeitgeist of culture, the Marvel team really doesn’t think of them or design them that way. (Yes, I know Wonder Woman is DC, not Marvel – put your pitchforks down.)

Instead, they consider new origin stories as a co-creation with fans. They look at and solicit, when possible, feedback from their most passionate audiences to understand when and, more importantly, how a reboot might be necessary or timely.

Now, the immediate lesson for us as content marketers is plain. Understanding, and listening to, specific audience personas is not a one-time project, it’s an ongoing process. We should periodically look to co-create with them to help us understand if our blog, our thought leadership program, or digital magazine needs to be “rebooted.”

I found this story even more powerful in the context of the gathering we were in. See, occasionally, we need to revisit our own origin story. We may need to reboot ourselves. Call it reinvention, renewal, or just a pivot; we have control of our own hero’s story arc, and we need an always-on lens to spot the times when it should change.

The key is that co-creation. Who are your passionate fans? Who knows your mythology, your journey, so well that they would know when, how, and where, a reboot would be appropriate? Who knows it was actually you who stole the books and put them on the Millennium Falcon? (And if you know what I’m talking about, I’ve made my point.) Who are the people who know you? It might just be one significant other. Or, it might be friends, colleagues, or even a mastermind group.

The key is to know who they are. Gather them. Listen to them. You don’t have to act on everything they say; it is your story after all. But these are the fans who can help you co-create your story. They also can help you reboot your origin story at just the right time.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Robert Rose
Chief Strategy Officer at The Content Advisory
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS.

Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.
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Author: Robert Rose
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS. Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.