How to Help Your Brand Cut Through the Noise — “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller
About Building a Story Brand
Donald Miller’s Story Brand uses a 6-part story formula to help companies and leaders learn what it really means to earn clients’ trust. This 6-part formula is useful not only in business but in writing and other areas of life as well, and though simple, has the potential to revolutionize how you do life and business.
SECTION 1: WHY MOST MARKETING IS A MONEY PIT
Chapter 1 The Key to Being Seen, Heard, and Understood
Pretty websites don’t sell things. Words sell things. And if we haven’t clarified our message, our customers won’t listen.
SB7: The StoryBrand 7-Part Framework
Most marketing is too complicated for people’s brains. The brain is focused on helping the person get ahead in life.
Why brands fail:
- They fail to focus on parts of their offer that help people survive/thrive (all stories are about some form of survival: physical, emotional, relational, spiritual)
- They make their clients work too hard to understand what they offer.
Stories help organize info so people understand faster.
If you confuse, you lose.
Stop blasting your clients with noise. Connect with them. Clarify your message with a formula.
Chapter 2 The Secret Weapon That Will Grow Your Business
Story is to info dumps as music is to noise.
Apple took advantage of clarity and the story lens in their billboard ad: “Think Different.” They stopped featuring computers in their ads, but tapped into customers’ stories by
- ID-ing what people wanted (to be seen/heard)
- Defining people’s challenges (don’t recognize their own hidden genius)
- Offer them a tool to express themselves (computers, smartphones)
People don’t buy products, they buy the products they can understand the fastest.
Every story has these parts, in a nutshell:
- MAIN CHARACTER wants something and meets a
- PROBLEM but as they’re despairing, a
- GUIDE steps in and gives them a
- PLAN and also
- CALLS THEM TO ACTION to help them avoid
- FAILURE so that they will achieve
So to map out your company’s story, ask 3 critical questions:
- What does the MC want?
- Who/what is blocking the MC from his desire?
- What will MC’s life look like if he does or doesn’t get what he wants?
Now run your marketing through the grunt test: Can your client answer the following questions within 5 seconds of seeing your marketing material?
- What do you offer?
- How does it make my life better?
- What do I need to do to buy it?
Chapter 3 The Simple SB7 Framework
- Paradigm shift: The client is the hero, not you/your brand
- ID what the client wants to make him feel invited into the story you tell
Has a Problem
- A problem has disrupted, in a big or small way, your client’s life
- Don’t sell a solution to an external problem (like everyone else)
- People buy solutions to INTERNAL problems (and if you offer them this, they’ll be passionate evangelists for you)
And meets a Guide
- Clients don’t want another hero, they want a guide.
- Guides show up in almost every movie — Obi-Wan, Yoda, Haymitch, etc.
- They don’t have time to read YOUR story, they want a guide for their OWN story
Who gives them a Plan
- Clients trust guides who have a plan — info on how to get the job done
And calls them to Action
- People don’t take action unless told to. They must be challenged. There must be a reason, an outside force.
- In real life: people take action when their story challenges them to.
That helps them avoid Failure
- Everybody wants to avoid a tragic ending.
- Question: what’s at stake? If nothing is gained/lost, it doesn’t matter.
- Ex: Wendy’s ad was “where’s the beef?” implying that their competitors don’t use enough meat.
And ends in Success
- Never assume folks understand how your business can change their lives — tell them.
“Everybody wants to be taken somewhere. If we don’t tell people where we’re taking them, they’ll engage another brand.”
We must tell our customers how great their life can look if they buy our products and services.
See mystorybrand.com for a BrandScript template. As you continue reading, do this:
- Go through the next few sections without skipping!
- Brainstorm potential messages for your BrandScript
- Look at your brainstorm and decide which specific message to use in each section of the BrandScript
You will BrandScript your overall brand, then each division of your company, then each product within each division, or even each segment of your customer base. There are endless uses for StoryBrand BrandScripts.
Be careful not to have just an overview of the process without learning the actual rules. Each module of the SB7 frameweork has set-in-stone rules you can’t break.
Thousands of companies shut their doors every year, not because they don’t have a great product, but because potential customers can’t figure out how that product will make their lives better.
Don’t think you’re too late. Lots of people know things they don’t do. If you commit to executing the process, you’ll win. Human nature tends toward complacency, so as long as you finish the process, you can beat the competition.
SECTION 2: BUILDING YOUR STORYBRAND
When you’re confused, create a StoryBrand BrandScript.
Chapter 4 A Character
StoryBrand Principle One: The customer is the hero, not your brand
A story starts with a hero who wants something. the question is, do they get it?
The audience must be interested in the character’s fate.
As a brand, you define what your customer wants, which makes them think “can this brand really help me get what I want?”
Ex: StoryBrand helped a hotel discover that their clients really want “luxury and rest,” which became their mantra. Another university defined the client desire as “a hassle-free MBA you can complete after work.”
- Restaurant: a meal everyone will remember
- Real estate agent: the home you dreamed about
- Bookstore: a story to get lost in
- Breakfast bar: healthy start to your day
Open a Story Gap
Identifying a desire opens a story gap: a gap between the character and what they want.
Stories are all about gaps that close only for another to open. Classical music (exposition, development, recapitulation) and poetry (end rhymes) works like this too.
Pare Down the Customer’s Ambition to a Single Focus
Don’t add too many conflicting story gaps until you’ve defined a specific desire and become known for helping people achieve it.
Focus on the simple desire, then later you can identify everything else — the subplots.
Choose a Desire Relevant to Their Survival
Don’t be vague. Don’t make readers work to figure out what benefit you provide.
Ex: “inhale knowledge, exhale success” is vague. “Helping you become everyone’s favorite leader.” is clearer.
People will always choose a story that helps them survive and thrive.
What Does Survival Mean?
Survival refers to primitive desires: safety, health, happiness, strength. It means having the economic/social resources to eat, drink, reproduce, fend off enemies.
Some desires that fit into this include:
- Conserving financial resources
- Conserving time
- Building social networks
- Gaining status
- Accumulating resources
- Being generous
- Having meaning
What’s the Story Question for Your Customer?
If you don’t communicate clearly, you shrink. Customers want to know where you can take them. They want to know where you’re going.
- Brainstorm your customers’ potential desires
- Make a decision and fill in the “character” module of the BrandScript
Chapter 5 Has a Problem
StoryBrand Principle Two: Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems
Identify clients’ problems to deepen their interest in your story.
“Readers want to fret.” — James Scott Bell
That’s true for branding too.
The more we talk about the problems our customers experience, the more interest they will have in our brand.
How to Talk About Your Customer’s Problems
Every Story Needs a Villain: Villains give conflict a clear point of focus. The more dastardly the villain, the more sympathetic the hero, the more audience engagement.
To make clients’ ears perk up, position your products/services as weapons to defeat a dastardly villain.
The villain doesn’t have to be a person, but must have personified characteristics.
Ex: time management software sellers may vilify DISTRACTIONS which are ruining clients’ potential, wrecking families, stealing sanity, costing them time and money.
4 characteristics that make a good villain
- A root source: Frustration is not the villain, it is what the villain makes us feel. Taxes would be the root villain.
- Relatable: people must immediately recognize it as disdainful.
- Singular: one villain is enough. Too many = story falls apart, lacks clarity.
- Real: Don’t be a fear monger. Use a real villain.
The Three Levels of Conflict
Villains cause heroes serious problems:
- External problems
- Internal problems
- Philosophical problems
Villains initiate external problems that create internal frustration that is philosophically wrong.
Something creates a barrier between the hero and their desire for stability. Usually a physical, tangible problem like a bomb, the need to win ball games, a rogue piece of software, etc.
Most of us are in the business of solving external problems: selling plumbing, insurance, clothes, etc.
People don’t come to you to solve mere external problems.
Companies…sell solutions to external problems, but people buy solutions to internal problems.
The purpose of external problems is to manifest an internal problem. Stories about disarming bombs are boring. Heroes need a frustration-filled backstory to make the action interesting.
In most stories, heroes struggle with the question: “Do I have what it takes?”
Stories teach us: people’s internal desire to resolve frustration is a greater motivator than desire to solve an external problem.
Brands make mistakes by assuming customers just want to solve external problems.
Steve Jobs saved Apple when he realized that people felt intimidated (internal problem) by computers and wanted a simpler interface. Apple ads then showed simple, hip characters who did NOT talk about inner workings of OSs.
The only reason our customers buy from us is because the external problem we solve is frustrating them in some way.
So what frustrations does your product resolve?
- Carmax resolves the frustration of dealing with used car salesmen
- Starbucks delivers a sense of sophistication, comfort, belonging
A story about something larger than the story itself. It’s about the overall epic of humanity.
These problems often use the words “ought/shouldn’t.” As in “bad people shouldn’t be allowed to win.”
People want to be involved in a story that is larger than themselves.
Brands that give clients a voice in a larger narrative adds value by creating a deeper sense of meaning.
So what deeper story does your brand contribute to?
The Perfect Brand Promise
To satisfy clients, offer to resolve an external, internal, and philosophical problem whenever people engage with your business.
Climactic scenes are ones that do this. All other scenes build up to that. (Ex: when Luke Skywalker blows up the Death Star, when Woody and Buzz are reunited with Andy, etc)
- Villain: gas guzzling, inferior tech
- Exterior: need a car
- Internal: want to be early adopter of new tech.
- Philosophical: save the environment
What Challenges Are You Helping Your Customer Overcome?
Brainstorm and ID a villain that causes an internal, external, and philosophical problem.
Does your brand stand against a single villain? What external problem is the villain causing? How does that external problem make your customer feel? Why is it unjust for people to suffer at this villain’s hands?
- Brainstorm all the literal and metaphorical villains your brand stands against.
- Brainstorm the external problems your brand resolves. Which one represents the widest swath of products?
- Brainstorm the internal problem/frustration/doubt your clients feel. Is there a universal experience that stands out?
- Is your brand part of a larger, more important story? Does your brand stand against a philosophical wrong?
Chapter 6 And Meets a Guide
StoryBrand Principle Three: Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they’re looking for a guide.
A person’s life is made up of many acts/chapters. No two lives are the same but we share common chapters. Every life is a transformational journey.
Events that define our chapters are instigated/interpreted by guides.
Every Hero is Looking for a Guide
Guides can be: parents, coaches, authors, world leaders, therapists, and even brands.
When heroes solve their own problems in stories, audiences tune out. Because if s/he could solve the problem, s/he wouldn’t have been in trouble in the first place.
In stories, famous guides include Gandalf, Haymitch, Yoda, Hamlet’s father’s ghost, etc.
The Fatal Mistake
The fatal mistake brands make: positioning themselves as the hero instead of the guide.
Jay Z’s music streaming service Tidal failed because it positioned musicians as the heroes rather than customers. Artists don’t buy from each other.
Every customer wants to know “how ar eyou helping me win the day?”
The Story is Not About Us
In stories, the hero is not the strongest character. They’re often ill-equipped, full of self-doubt, reluctant, etc.
But the guide has “been there, done that.” The guide has authority.
The story must be focused on the hero.
Those who realize the epic story of life is not about them but actually about the people around them somehow win in the end.
The Two Characteristics of a Guide
Brands must communicate 2 things to position themselves as a guide:
Guides understand the hero’s pain and frustration. Empathy creates a bond of trust. This is how Oprah succeeded — knowing that people want to be seen, heard, and understood.
Empathic statements start with:
- We understand how it feels to…
- Nobody should have to experience…
- Like you, we’re frustrated by…
- We care about you/your…
TELL customers you care. They won’t know unless you tell them.
Empathy is more than sentimental slogans. You must let clients know we see them as we see ourselves. Ex: Discover Card TV campaign which showed people calling customer service and talking to an exact replica of themselves.
No one likes know-it-alls who preach. Don’t lord your expertise over the masses. But people still want competence.
Guides don’t have to be perfect, but must have experience helping other heroes win.
How to add authority:
- Testimonials: let others talk for you. Don’t stack too many testimonials or you risk positioning yourself as the hero. 3 is good.
- Statistics: How many satisfied clients have you helped? Percentages, dollar signs, numbers?
- Awards: Include small logos of awards.
- Logos: Include logos of other businesses you’ve helped.
Have you demonstrated your competency in your marketing material?
How to Make a Great First Impression
People subconsciously ask 2 questions when meeting new people (Amy Cuddy, Harvard prof, author of PResence)
- Can I trust this pereson? (empathy)
- Can I respect this person? (competence)
- Brainstorm empathetic statements to tell your clients you care about their internal problem.
- Brainstorm how to demonstrate competence and authority through testimonials, stats, awards, logos.
Chapter 7 Who Gives Them a Plan
StoryBrand Principle Four: Customers trust a guide who has a plan.
Making a purchasee isn’t a characteristic of a casual relationship; it’s a characteristic of a commitment.
Commitments are risky because of the potential of loss. To ease client concerns, you need to give them a plan.
The Plan Creates Clarity
Plans can do 1 of 2 things:
- Clarify how somebody can do business with you
- Remove the sense of risk someone has when considering investing in your product/service
If you confuse, you lose.
Lack of plans = confusion.
When clients listen to your speech, visit your site, read your email blast, their question is: “what do you want me to do now?”
You need to guide them and resolve the confusion. If you sell a storage system for people to install in their garage, they might wonder how hard it will be to install.
So spell out how easy the process is, and give them the easy steps to do so. Steps that may seem obvious to you may not be to clients.
There are two kinds of plans to encourage people to do business with you:
- The process plan
- The agreement plan
The Process Plan
Describes the steps a client needs to take to buy a product or use it after buying it, or both.
The post-purchase process plan: when clients have difficulty imagining how to use the product after buying it.
Processs plans can be pre or post purchase. Ideally 3–6 steps. Bombarding people with info reducese buying likelihood. Simplify their journey.
The Agreement Plan
A list of agreements you make with a client to overcome their fear of doing business with you. Carmax has a 4-point plan.
Agreement plans also clarify shared values. Ex: Whole Food’s list of values.
Agreement plans work in the background.
To make an agrerement plan:
List all the things a client might be concerned about regarding your product/service, the counter the list with agreements to alleviate fears.
What’s the Plan Called?
Eg: Easy Installation Plan, World’s Best Night’s Sleep Plan
This frames it in the client’s mind, increasing perceived value.
- Brainstorm the steps a customer must take to do busineses with you
- What fears does a customer have related to your industry?
- What can you do to alleviate those fears?
- Do you share unique values with your clients?
- Write the steps and name of your process plan
Chapter 8 And Calls Them to Action
StoryBrand Principle Five: Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action.
Story characters don’t take action on their own. They must be challenged. Clients at rest tend to stay at rest.
The Power of the “Buy Now” Button
Companiees need to challenge clients to place orders. Clients can’t read your mind. There should be an uncluttered “buy now” button in the top right of your website. Clarity is powerful.
Do You Believe in Your Product?
Selling passively communicates a lack of belief in the product. Not asking clearly for a sale makes the client sense weakness. It feels like you’re asking for charity, not helping them change their lives.
Clients want brands that affirm and give solutions to problems, not ones filled with doubt.
Two Kinds of Calls to Action
The 2 kinds of calls to action are:
- Direct calls to action
- Transitional calls to action
Direct calls to action include requests like “buy now.” They lead to a sale.
Transitional calls to action have less risk and offer a client something for free.
Those Who Ask Again and Again Shall Finally Receive
There should be an obvious button (it must stand out) to press on your website — the direct call to action.
Direct calls to action can be included at the end of every email blast.
Transitional Calls to Action
StoryBrand grew into a multimillion business by releasing a free PDF on “5 things your website should include” and thousands of people downloaded it. The back of the PDF had an ad for the StoryBrand Marketing Workshop, and they doubled revenue without spending a dollar.
Good transitional calls do 3 things:
- Stake a claim to your territory before the competition beats you to it.
- Create reciprocity: don’t worry about giving away free stuff. The more you give, the more reciprocity you create.
- Position yourself as the guide. When you help people solve a problem, you position yourself as the guidie.
Transitional calls can be:
- Free info: white paper, PDF that educates people, videos, podcasts, webinars, live events
- Testimonials from happy clients
- Samples of your product: pages of your book, test drive a car, etc
- Free trial: risk-removal policy to on-ramp customers
What are the Stakes?
Define what’s at stake in the clcient’s story if they don’t do business with you. That makes y ourr story interesting.
- Decide on your direct calll to action
- Brainstorm any transitional calls to action
Chapter 9 That Helps Them Avoid Failure
StoryBrand Principle Six: Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending.
Stoeis live and die on whether or not the hero succeeds.
Each scene in a movie must answerr the question “what’s at stake for the hero?”
Brands that don’t warn their customeers about what could happen if they don’t buy their products fail to answer the “so what” question every customer is secretly asking.
Where’s the Mayhem?
In 2015, Allstate warned people about the dangers of sharing their whereabouts on social media by tricking a real couple into leaving their home, then taking pictures of their belongings, making replicas, and auctioning them off on TV.
The benefits of featuring pitfalls of not doing business with you is easy. Use potential failure to give clieents a sense of urgency.
What’s There to Lose?
What will the client lose if they don’t buy?
People are motivated by loss aversion (Daniel Kahnemann, Prospect Theory, 1979 Nobel Prize), which is a greater buying motivator than potential gains.
- See book: Building Communication Theory by Infante, Rancer, Womack
Fear appeal is a 4 step process:
- Make reader know they’re vulnerable to a threat
- Let readers know they need to reduce their vulnerability
- Tell them a SPECIFIC call to action to protect them from the risk
- Challlenge people to take the specific action
Fear is like salt, just a pinch will do. Too much fear won’t lead to behavior.
What are You Helping Your Customer Avoid?
- Used car co: getting ripped off, being stuck with a lemon, feeling taken advantage of
- Audio/video for home: living in a boring home, no one wants to watch the game at your house, need a PhD to turn on the TV
Include these ideas in marketing material. You only need a few dastardly things to warn clients about. Too little, and they won’t know why your product matters. Too much, and they will resist you.
Clarify Your Message so Customers Listen
- Brainstorm negative consequences you’re helping clients avoid
- Write down at least 3 of those
Chapter 10 And Ends in a Success
StoryBrand Principle Seven: Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them.
Always remember, people want to be taken somewhere.
Clear, aspirational visions help. Foreshadowing a potential successful ending helps captivate audience imagination.
Successful brands make it clear what life will look like if someone engages in their product/service.
The Ending Should be Specific and Clear
Many companies paint a too-fuzzy future for their clients’ future. Stories aren’t vague. They’re about specific things happening to specific people.
Good stories have clearly defined resolutions so audiences know what to hope for. Kennedy didn’t just advocate a “competitive space program,” he talked about “putting a man on the moon.”
Ask yourself: Before your brand,
- What does your client have?
- What is s/he feeling?
- What’s an average day like?
- What’s their status?
And aftere your brand, re-answer those questions. (Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer)
Whatever the vision is, say it clearly. Talk about the end vision you have for your clients’ lives in all your emails, websites, etc.
Images are important for casting a vision. Show clients happily engaging with the product.
How to End a Story for Your Customer
Brainstorm what your client’s life will look like if their problem is resolved, how that resolution will make them feel, why the resolution makes the world a fairer place to live in.
3 dominant ways storytellers end stories:
- Win power or position
- Be unified with someone/thing that makes them whole
- Experience self-realization that makes them whole
These are the 3 dominant psychological desires of humans.
1. Winning Power and Position (the Need for Status)
Everyone wants status. That’s why coming-of-age stories are popular. How can brands offer status?
- Offer access: eg Starbucks membership points
- Create scarcity: offer limited numbers of some item
- Offer a premium: Most companies earn 70+% income from their preferred/diamond club members. Give people a special name.
- Offer identity association: Premium brands sell status and luxury.
2. Union That Makes the Hero Whole (the Need for Something External to Create Completeness)
Ways to offer external help to help clients feel whhole:
- Reduce anxiety: reduce frustration, offer satisfaction for a job well done
- Reduced workload: tools that can give them what they’re missing
- More time: For many, time is the enemy. Expanding time products solve external problems that create internal frustration.
3. Ultimate Self-Realization or Acceptance (The Need to Reach Our Potential)
How brands offer self-realization/acceptance:
- Inspiration: association with athletic and intellectual accomplishment.
- Acceptance: helping people accept themselves as they are.
- Transcendence: invite people to participate in a larger movement, offer a more impactful life.
Closing the Story Loops
People are looking for resolutions to external, internal, and philosophical problems through status, self realization, self-acceptance, transcenence.
Keep it Simple
Closing story loops isn’t hard. Even pics of smiley people work.
- Product: closing loop
- Ice cream: rich taste of heaven
- Camping gear: adventure to remember
Stick to basic answers because they work.
- Brainstorm the successful resolution you’re helping customers achieve
- What will their lives look like after using your product?
Remember, the biggest motivator for clients to buy = desire to become someone different.
Chapter 11 People Want Your Brand to Participate in Their Transformation
The single greatest human motivator is to transform. Your brand is to help people become better versions of themselves.
Heroes are Designed to Transform
Every popular story involves people who are transformed because self-doubt is universal, as is the desire to be competent and courageous.
Smart Brands Define an Aspirational Identity
Don’t just sell an item — sell an identity. Define the identity and help people step into it, and that’s worth money.
How Does Your Customer Want to be Described by Others
The best way to ID an attractive aspirational identity is to consider how your clients wants their friends to talk about them.
Guides offer more than a product and plan. They change lives.
Ex: Dave Ramsey’s motto includes the elements of story “Welcome back to the Dave Ramsey Show where debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid-off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice.”
Great Brands Obsess About the Transformation of Their Customers
After the climactic scene, the guides come back to affirm the hero’s transformation (Ghost of Obi Wan stands next to Luke as he gets his reward.)
When you frame your client’s journey as a narrative and participate in their transformation sets you apart. Brands that change people attract passionate fans.
Examples of Identity Transformation
Aspirational identity examples:
- Every dog’s hero (pet food brand)
- Competent, smart (Financial advisor)
- Carefree, radiant (Shampoo brand)
Think about who you want your customer to become. Participating in their transformation can give your business life.
- Brainstorm your client’s aspirational identity. Who do they want to be? Who do they want to be perceived as?
SECTION 3: IMPLEMENTING YOUR STORYBRAND BRANDSCRIPT
Chapter 12 Building a Better Website
You need to implement your Story Brand material in your marketing and messaging — websites, email campaigns, sales scripts, elevator pitches.
The degree that you implement your StoryBrand BrandScript is the degree to which people will understand why they need your products.
Start With Your Website
Your website is your elevator pitch. Keep it simple. Not noisy. Tips:
Include an offer above the fold
- (Ex: “We will make you a pro in the kitchen!” “We help you make beautiful websites.”) Customers need to know what’s in it for them right away.
- Make sure the images/texts promise an aspirational identity, promise to solve a problem, state exactly what you do.
- Include an obvious call to action. 1) at the top right of the website 2) at the center of the screen, above the fold. People’s eyes move in a Z pattern across the site.
Obvious calls to action
- Buy now buttons should be a different color than any other button on the site. Make that button show up like a recurring theme.
- Your transitional call to action (“can we go out again?”) should also be obvious, but don’t distract from the direct call (“will you marry me?”). You can make a less-bright button next to the main action.
Images of Success
- Pics of smiling happy people should be featured. Even more so than showing your product.
- Smiling peoeple convey health, well-being, satisfaction with the brand
Bite-sized breakdown of Your Revenue Streams
- Find the overall umbrella message that unifies your various streams. Ex: “The key to success is a customized plan” sells 1) life planning for iindividuals 2) strategic ops planning for exec leaders 3) facilitator certification
- Then break down the divisions clearly.
Very Few Words
- People don’t read websites — they scan them.
- Don’t use paragraphs above the fold.
- Write in “morse code” — brief, punchy, relevant to clients. Think caveman.
- As readers scroll down you can use a few more words. But some of the best sites use only 10 sentences.
- Experiment with cutting half the words from your site. Replace text with images. Use bullet points/soundbite summaries.
The fewer words y ou use, the more likely it is that people will read them.
Getting these 5 things write composes the majority of what you need to know about your website.
Every single word, image, idea on your site should come from your StoryBrand BrandScript, or else readers only hear noise.
Chapter 13 Using StoryBrand to Transform Company Culture
You can use the BrandScript to transform employee engagement. Customers aren’t the only ones who get confused when the message is unclear.
The Curse of the Narrative Void
The Narrative Void: vacant space when no story keeps everyone aligned.
Employees are more committed, productive, and efficient if they have a story.
Information explosion has led to disengagement. People are bombarded with 3K+ marketing messages every day, not including non-marketing messages.
Just Because You Know the Story Doesn’t Mean Your Team Does
Employees want to workr for companies that transform them.
Mission statements aren’t enough. They’re like movie taglines, rather than the real movie.
Is Your Thoughtmosphere on Script?
Thoughtmosphere: invisible mix of beliefs and ideas that drives behavior/performance.
The number one job of an executive is to remind the stakeholders what the mission is, over and over.
But if an exec can’t explain the story, team members won’t know where they fit or why.
Ready to Get Your Company on Mission?
True missions aren’t a statement, it’s a way to live and be. It starts with your BrandScript.
- Create a BrandScript
- Audit the existing Thoughtmosphere
- Create a custom StoryBrand culture implementation plan
- Optimize internal communications to support the plan
- Install self-sustained team to enhance the culture.
StoryBrand cultures honor the employees’ value and history.
Where there’s no story, there’s no engagement.
The StoryBrand Marketing Roadmap
Five (almost free) things you can do to implement the StoryBrand Framework and grow your business
Create your StoryBrand BrandScript, then revise your website. Then there are 5 marketing and messaging efforts to get the best results:
- Create a one-liner: a single statement that will grow your business. Memorize it and use it whenever people ask what you do.
- Create a lead generator and collect e-mail addresses: You can use a PDF, e-course, video series, webinar, live event, anything to collect addresses.
- Create an automated e-maili drip campaign: Like a sales team that works when you sleep.
- Collect and tell stories of transformation: Tell stories of how you helped your clients.
- Create a system that generates referrals: Invite happy clients to become evangelists for your brand using a system of invites and incentivizes.
Your Step-By-Step Plan
This may take you a few months to a year, but you’ll see results with each step.
One: Create a One-Liner
Answer the question “what do you do?”
It’s not a slogan or tagline, but a statement that helps people realize why they need your service
In Hollywood, this is a logline: a one-sentence description of a movie which is used from selling the movie idea to the emovie’s opening weekend.
(Ex: An incompetent, immature, and dimwitted heir to an auto-parts factory must save the business to keep it out of the hands of his new con-artist relatives and big business — Tommy Boy)
Loglines are effective due to imagination and intrigue. Readers can visualize the story and want to see the film.
Use the 4 components to craft a powerful one liner:
It doesn’t have to be one sentence or four.
Ex: “We provide BUSY MOMS with a SHORT MEANINGFUL WORKOUT they can use to STAY HEALTHY AND HAVE RENEWED ENERGY.”
StoryBrand’s example: “Most business leaders don’t know how to talk about their company, so we created a framework that helps them simplify their message, create great marketing material, connect with customers, and grow their business.”
Edit your one-liner until it works. Run it by other people. When they start asking for your contact info, you’ve got it.
Use your one-liner in conversations, on your website, in every piece of marketing possible — until it feels borderline excessive (business cards, social media, email signature, packaging)
Great musicians play crowd-pleasers over and over. That’s the discipline success takes. That’s how you should treat your one-liner.
Two: Create a Lead-Generator and Collect E-mail Addresses
Your smartphone is your most sacred, private possession.
No one wants to sign up for your newsletter and stay in the loop. That doesn’t promise any value. You need to offer a valuable lead generator instead. This is the transitional call to action.
Create an irresistible lead generator by:
- Providing enormous value for the client
- Establish you as an authority in your field
StoryBrand’s first lead generator was the “5 things your website should include” PDF, downloaded by 40K people. Then they created the fiveminutemarketingmakeover.com to upgrade their lead generator.
Five types of lead generators:
- Downloadable guide: be specific!
- Online course/webinar: offer free training to position yourself as an expert and earn trust
- Software demos or free trials
- Free samples: like Blue Apron’s free sample meals
- Live events
Some examples people have used: “5 mistakes people make with their first million dollars” (financial adviser) “Building your dream home: 10 things to get right before you build” (custom architect) “Cocktail club: learn to make one new cocktail each month” (garden store wanted to create community) “Becoming a professional speaker” (speaking coach)
How much value to give away for free: be as generous as possible.
Feature your lead generator liberally on your site: use a popup feature.
Three: Create an Automated Email Drip Campaign
Automated emails remind clients that you exist. Clients may not need your service today, or tomorrow, but when they do need it, you need to be forefront in th eir minds.
Send clients regular emails. Don’t worry about open rates. 20% is an industry standard. Even if they don’t read it, you’re branding yourself into their universe.
Start with a nurturing campaign: simple regular email that offers valuable info related to your products/service. Do 3 of these, then a sales email. You can repeat this pattern monthly.
Create a few months’ worth of material and let it ride.
Offer something of great value and occasionally ask for an order, reminding people you have products to make their lives better.
The Nurturing Email
This formula offers simple, helpful advice:
- Talk about a problem
- Explain a plan to solve the problem
- Describe how life looks for the reader once the problem is solved
- Add a P.S.
Every 3rd or 4th email should offer a product or service. Be direct, not passive. Don’t show weakness:
- Talk about a problem
- Describe a product you offer that solves the problem
- Describe what life can look like for the reader when the problem is solved
- Call the clieint to a direct action
Four: Collect and Tell Stories of Transformation
People love stories about characters who transform.
Great testimonials give clients the gift of going second.
You need a testimonial that showcases your value, the results you get for clients, the experience people have working with you. Most people who you ask for testimonials are too busy or unskilled to write well.
Instead, ask leading questions to create a form clients can fill out. You can use these to create video testimonials as well:
- What was the problem you were having before you discovered our product?
- What did the frustration feel like as you tried to solve that problem?
- What was different about our product?
- Take us to the moment when you realized our product was actually working to solve your problem.
- Tell us what lifie looks like now your problem is solved/being solved.
Then feature this testimonial in emails, promo videos, keynote speeches, live interviews, events. StoryBrand incorporated a testimonial at the end of each podcast.
Five: Create a System That Generates Referrals
Referrals and peer recommendations are 2.5x more effective than other marketing.
- Identify your existing ideal customer (Domino’s Pizza has a pizza profile for clients)
- Give your clients a reeason to spread the word (Ex: create PDF/video content they can share)
- Offer a reward (start an affiliate program)
Sample referral systems:
- 100% refund for 3 new referrals within a semester: Test prep academy got parents to bring in friends.
- Invite a friend coupons: Golf range eoffered new students a free bucket of golf for a friend.
- Open house party: Contractors who finished large projects gave a discount for homeowners who threw a party to show off their work.
- Free follow-up photos: Wedding photographers offer a 1-year anniversay session for 3 referrals.
What’s your marketing plan?
Chess players have “openings” — planned first five moves. The StoryBrand Framework is your opening.
Business is one of the most powerful forces in the world for good.
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