Very few things have lasting appeal across the generations as Superheroes (Superman, Batman, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, etc). But what’s special about them that gives them timeless appeal while others fail? What can you learn from successful superheroes to be more attractive to your ideal people?

As it turns out, the best ones have these few things in common:

1. Have a clear and concise mission.

Attract by being clear about what you stand for, and who the enemy is. At Maya’s Hope, we updated the website so the first thing people see when they click on the “About” page (typically the most clicked page) is the Mission: send aid to children in extreme poverty; the enemies are malnutrition, not having parents, lack of care and being unable to go to school.

The Mission naturally leads to, “Why?” For example, “What’s Superman’s deal?” (Immigrant orphan from space, raised by humans) “Why does Batman fight crime? (Parents were murdered).

2. Tell your Origin Story

We used Maya’s story to simultaneously introduce Maya, the reason behind the cause, and to reinforce the organization’s mission. Now that we know who the target audience is, we can amplify Maya’s personal story to resonate with them.

The gist: Maya didn’t appreciate her mom when she was alive, mom passed away suddenly, she felt like an orphan, became deeply indebted to her mom, now helps orphans in her parents’ home countries.

The story is titled, “How My Mom Taught Me to Fight for Orphan Children”:

The response: it gave other people who shared similar experiences something to relate strongly to:

“My mom passed away in 2000. That sort of thing really changes you and the course of your life. At some point instead of being all depressed I started to realize how lucky I was to have had such a great parent for the number of years I did, and that there are others who aren’t in the same boat. For me, trying to live my life in the best way possible is the best way to honor my mother’s memory and everything that she gave me.” – Cynthia R., New York

“I have to say, that when I read that your mother passed away in 2007, I had to stop and reread that a few times. Both of my parents died in 2007. My father had been ill for a long time so that did not come as a shock when he passed away at the end of June 2007. However, my mother died quite suddenly 70 days later. So, I completely understand what it is like to not have parents. That is part of the reason we decided to adopt, and why my heart is with the children who long for a mother and father.” – Corbett A., New York

“I decided to sponsor Rolando because of my mother, she passed away nearly 5 years ago and she always contributed to children’s charities. I wanted to continue her legacy by helping a child in need, I was fortunate to meet Maya through my co-workers. I have truly found the utmost joy in sponsoring through Maya’s Hope for the past 3 1/2 years.” – Deanna H., New Jersey

3. Who are you?

We then defined a public persona for Maya, rather than being a faceless, voiceless, soulless organization:

  • Superpowers come from a mother’s love
  • Mother is Filipino, Father is Ukrainian
  • Reaches out to children who have never experienced a mother’s unconditional love
  • Plays the Piano
  • Loves Muay Thai
  • Favorite color is Pink

And all superheroes must have flaws:

  • Was a spoiled brat until her mom passed away
  • Experienced childhood obesity
  • Was bullied as a child
  • (too long to list)

The flaws are often more important than the superpowers, because trust and fascination stem from being something other people can relate to.

Finally, the mission is reinforced as an extension of her persona:
Maya’s Hope sends aid to impoverished children in Maya’s parents’ home countries (Philippines and Ukraine).

Once you’ve crafted your message using the 3 keys above, deliver your message using all media, with highest priority given to the media your target audience responds to best.

Some people like to read, some people like to watch videos. Some people like to skim, some people like to read every word.

We encapsulated Maya’s story into video, pictures and text (with multiple paths of readership for skimmers and readers). However, since we knew that historically, people have responded best to her in person, it was important to have a video be the first thing that greets new visitors to the website:

Next: Robot Maya