Don’t be the hero of your own story.

Writers, founders, marketers: always put your audience first.

J.R.R. Tolkien famously said that in his eyes, the true hero of his epic saga The Lord of the Rings was not the key protagonists, the grand heroes presented as Frodo Baggins or Aragorn. As stated in letters written throughout is life, the british author made a point of considering instead Sam Gamgee, the trusted friend walking aside — or sometimes carrying — Frodo as the true central character, relatable in his goals and reactions to adversity.

Sure, we all want to be the Frodo of our own story. The one in the spotlight, with a clear goal and a pure mission. So many startups and individuals go for this approach that it now seems natural, almost obvious. While confidence is always appreciated, talking only about yourself can become alienating — and as Internet users grow increasingly tired of the constant flow of ads directed towards them, it doesn’t seem like the trend could change anytime soon.

Now, turn this thought around. If it’s true for you, it’s probably true for everyone else.

Become the ally

At a mainstream level, few people will care about your goal — rather willing to figure out what benefit you can bring them. Wether it’s help, time, money or entertainment, the endgame is the same. As stated in this article, people care about their agenda — not yours. Use this to your advantage.

Become the helpful hand, the trusted ally who understands its audience’s goal and agenda.

When conceiving, writing, sharing or pitching your story, make yourself a Sam. Don’t come boasting about yourself, posing as the hero saving your audience from an unknown, unseen or unbreakable evil. Become the helpful hand, the trusted ally who understands its audience’s goal and agenda, and will stand by their side as they try to attain it. Empathy is key here.

So keep that in mind when getting your story started. Think about what your audience will gain from listening to you, from letting you into their world. Be the Sam to your client’s Frodo.

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