What is it that moves people? How can we craft marketing messages in a way that engages our audience emotionally? It turns out there’s a formula.

Here’s a story about two home cleaning businesses.

Both have created short videos to post on their Instagram and Facebook pages to get the word out on their services.

The first video has an upbeat voice-over, some pop music, and lots of footage of home cleaning crews attacking a home with their pro tools and cleaning supplies. You can actually see the sudsy bubbles gleaming on surfaces. The tag line reads something like, “Sweeping? Mopping? Scrubbing? We’re good at this.”

Who is the hero in this story?

The second video features a happy client – a real one – speaking in their own words about their customer experience. The covering footage shows the customer hosting a dinner party with friends, enjoying and sharing their beautifully clean home with pride. The tag line reads something like, “Spend less time cleaning. More time being.”

Who is the hero in this story?

Every good story starts with a good character. It is the character, or the Hero, that drives what happens in the story. It is the hero that we identify with. It is the hero that we laugh with, that we cry with, that we root for. Every good story starts with what matters most: the hero.

So, who is the hero in the story you’re telling about your product or service?

Brands that position themselves as the hero in the story they are telling make a common, yet costly, mistake.

You are not the hero. Your customer is.

The most effective modern marketing messages cast the customer as the hero and appeal to the conflict they are experiencing, the one which your product or service solves for them.