The Hero Trap: How to Win in a Post-Purpose Market by Putting People in Charge, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Hero Trap

How to Win in a Post-Purpose Market by Putting People in Charge, 1st Edition

By Thomas Kolster


236 pages | 240 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367242695
pub: 2020-05-21
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A single tweet from an irate customer can topple a CEO, much like a new business formed by a twenty-something can disrupt business empires. Market economists have told us that we’re driven only by money and status, but the inherent human truth that cuts across age, culture and gender uncovers a stronger force: we wish to be in charge of our own lives and our own happiness.

Through extensive growth and affinity research, Thomas Kolster uncovers a simple answer that is key to driving marketing growth in the 21st century: if you put people in control of the marketing mix, from products to promotion, they can grow and in turn grow your organisation. This book explains the meteoric rise of a company like AirBnB, how a twenty-something Swede, Maria de la Croix, built a global coffee empire like Wheelys in just a few years, and how a group of friends hanging out in a bar in Melbourne created one of the largest global nonprofits fighting for men’s health, Movember, and how you can empower people to do the same. Kolster calls this feature "Empowerbility"; the ability of an organisation to empower its customers (or stakeholders) to leverage their means and capabilities as a resource in the marketing mix, from product to promotion.

Empowerbility bridges the gap between aspiration and action and unlocks the door to Marketing’s Holy Grail: moving people from awareness to purchase. Today’s power no longer rests in the hands of the privileged few, but in the talented many. It is time for you to unleash that power, in numbers.


"Most people don’t want better brands – they want a better life and a better world to enjoy it in. In this book, Thomas argues that if organisations want to succeed, they should start with what people need – it’s a great call to action for latent changemakers everywhere!"

Joanna Yarrow, Head of Sustainable & Healthy Living, IKEA

"People expect more from brands and companies than ever before. Nine of ten consumers say they have a more positive image of a brand or a company when it supports a social or environmental cause and half say they make purchase decisions based on shared beliefs with the brand. That’s why brands today need to be less about themselves and more about serving people in ways that help people contribute to a better world – just by using the brand. With that approach, brands can truly be both a force for good and a force for growth. This premise is exactly what Thomas Kolster talks about in his new book. It’s a must read for today’s brand builders."

Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, Procter & Gamble Company

"Thomas is a bold visionary and purposeful individual – he calls out action and purpose in company culture and promotes authentic cultures that truly help individuals and not simply saying it without action."

Marcello Leone, CEO, RYU

Table of Contents

Introduction: Change begins with who?

1: Me is the new mass

2: Catalysts of the good life

3: Motivation: the untold story

4: The Arrow towards a better you

5: The transformative promise

6: If not you, then who?

7: The business case: if not now, when? 8: Pass the steering wheel

9: The five transformative market forces 10: A transformative platform

11: Unlocking the potential of all people

12: It’s time to…



About the Author

Thomas Kolster is a marketing activist on a mission to make business put people and planet first. As a seasoned branding and sustainability professional of more than 18 years’ standing, he’s advised everything from Fortune 500 companies to small start-ups. He's a globally experienced keynote speaker, author of the book Goodvertising (2012) and a columnist for Adweek and several other publications. Thomas's belief is simple: change begins with you!

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Advertising & Promotion
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Business Ethics
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Marketing / General