Why isn't your business getting the attention it deserves?
Your products are excellent. Your services are the best in the business. Your expertise and experience are unparalleled. With so much going for you, it's puzzling that your business or idea isn't getting the attention you know it deserves. One of the most frustrating challenges of growing a business is when you have a product or service that can change lives, but people do not notice.
I've been a StoryBrand Guide since 2017. I loved the book. I've used the book in my own work and I continue to help others use it too. But I've never taken the time to write out all it's advantages nor have I laid about WHY I believe it works so well.
This post is going to provide you with the understanding and practical application you need to transform your marketing so that better days can come for your business. Donald Miller wrote a game-changing book about the power of story to capture attention, compel action, and grow your business. I'll do my best to summarize but you need to get the book for yourself if you haven't already.
In his book StoryBrand, he argues that you can learn to use storytelling techniques to create a website and email copy that cut through the clutter when you understand how stories work. Here's how he summarizes it:
"Story is the most powerful tool in the world to captivate the human brain. When you learn to use story in your brand's communication, your customers will finally pay attention to what you're saying."
— Donald Miller, author of "Building a StoryBrand."
The problem, says Donald Miller in "Building a StoryBrand," isn't what you're selling. It's what you're saying. More specifically, it's what you're not saying.
"People are not drawn to the best products and services," Miller adds. "They're drawn to the ones they can understand the fastest."
The human mind is attracted to clarity. A great product + a crystal-clear message = a winning combination to connect with the people you want to reach.
Don Miller was not the one to discover stories, of course.
Thousands of years ago, humans used storytelling to communicate and share complicated information.
It's been said that storytelling is one of the most powerful ways human beings have ever invented to communicate. We all use stories to help people understand your message. We use story to communicate something to our kids, use it to persuade, and leverage the power of story to clarify a message in establishing a brand.
Let's look at how these StoryBrand principles will establish your brand.
How do you use the StoryBrand framework to build your brand?
Let's look at seven ways StoryBrand can change how people interact with your company.
1. The StoryBrand Framework takes the focus off you.
How do you brand with a story? Looking at your "Branding" might seem like a term only used by marketing agencies who want to distract you from doing the critical work of serving customers and taking your money. However, in reality, your brand can be defined as how you make customers feel when they interact with you. StoryBranding, then, is inviting anyone who interacts with your company (particularly your ideal customer) into a story where they are a hero that you will help them win. And who wouldn't love a company that treats them like that?
The admission you have to make if you want to embrace StoryBrand marketing is this: Your customers don't start by caring about you or your business. It's harsh, but most of us agree that we don't care about every business out there. For you, your company brand story is deeply personal. To someone on the street, you're just another business to them. They do care about themselves and their life—and how you and your business solve their problems.
Once you show that you can solve problems, then you become attractive to them.
That's what StoryBranding your business does - it makes you more attractive to others.
StoryBrand is a powerful tool for businesses that want to become an asset in the lives of their customers.
In Building a StoryBrand, best-selling author Donald Miller lays out the StoryBrand Framework for us. This marketing framework is a tool to help you clarify your marketing message. It focuses on the customer's journey and places them at the center of everything.
The framework is the now popular marketing messaging tool that helps business leaders establish a brand by putting a message across. What is that message? It's a simple one where they position themselves as the trustworthy guide devoted to helping the hero (more on this later). The StoryBrand framework is made up of seven parts. Each part is an integral part of a story.
It is also difficult to accept the risk of focusing on one's business when creating a message. You may say, "But don't our customers need to know that we are experts? Otherwise, they won't trust us!" Yes, establishing the guide's credibility is part of StoryBrand marketing, but it's only a tiny piece of the process.
Don Miller explains,
"When we position our customers as the hero and ourselves as their guide, we will be recognized as a sought-after character to help them along their journey."
Miller explains how if your audience is Luke Skywalker, you show up to them as Yoda (not Baby Yoda - the five-thousand-year-old mature version). Most of us are humbled to learn that the reason people are ignoring us we could help is that we've been trying to play the hero to them. It's human nature to focus on ourselves. But it doesn't work great to win people over. Playing the guide and not the hero is a small but powerful shift we can make.
Do this, and you'll see results right away.
Miller concludes about why being the guide is attractive to potential customers: "This honors the journey and struggles of our audience, and it allows us to provide the product or service they need to succeed."
The people you need to reach didn't wake up today hoping to learn about another hero in a story. They woke up today and have been looking for someone to be their guide. Understanding this is the first step to getting your brand the recognition it deserves.
2. StoryBrand Helps You Tell A Compelling Brand Story
As mentioned, humans have been telling each other stories since we first learned to communicate. Storytelling is part of our DNA. Did you know (as Building a StoryBrand lays out), the best stories follow mostly the same format?
Here is that format we call the StoryBrand Framework:
- A Character (Hero)
- Has a Problem
- And Meets a Guide
- Who Gives Them a Plan
- And Calls Them to Action
- That Ends in Success
- And Helps Them Avoid Failure.
You'll see this framework laid out in our favorite movies like The Matrix, Hunger Games, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and so many others. Before carrying on, watch them all see what I mean - just kidding.
Once you understand how powerful stories are told, your storytelling power gets very interesting.
In over four years serving companies as a StoryBrand, I've seen dynamic things happen when a business adopts StoryBrand marketing. Something special happens like:
- Their website converts.
- Their marketing emails get opened and read.
- They appear like a thought leader in their industry.
- Leads are generated from content published on the company's blog or website.
- They get more subscribers to their blog.
- Their pitches get people excited.
In short, they succeed in their marketing.
3.StoryBrand Gets People Excited About Doing Business With You
People want to find what they're looking for, and they need help searching for it. The StoryBrand Framework raises eyebrows because it teaches the importance of talking about your customers' problems. When you do this, you open up a "story loop," A story loop is an agitated problem that demands resolution for someone to relax finally. It's why we have to watch shows and movies to the end. It's why cliffhangers work so well. We need resolved story loops. When you talk about a problem someone is facing, people instinctively need to stay until they find out how it resolves. This gives your customers the compulsion to remain engaged with your brand message until their story is resolved. Human beings are motivated when there's a goal and a story with which we can identify.
This is the first step that is an essential step for any business looking to reach its goals. If you want to get more people, you have to know how to connect with them by opening and closing story loops.
Here is one of our favorite episodes on the StoryBrand podcast to better understand what drives human behavior. You'll learn about the brain science behind stories. Check out: "Why People Buy: The Powerful Science of Selling"
4.StoryBrand guides the words you choose
At first glance, the web appears vast and unforgiving. As more people spend time online consuming content on mobile devices, consumers have an overwhelming number of options to choose from when they go looking for a solution to their problem.
StoryBrand marketing aims to create a powerful content experience that inspires your audience to connect emotionally and encourages them to take action.
When you learn about marketing, we realize there's a difference between talking about "features" and "benefits." Feature statements describe what the product or service does, but benefit statements explore how they benefit from using it. In other words, benefits tell customers about what they'll get out of your business offering. There's a big difference.
From a consumer perspective, benefits are more important than features. Benefits are what helps customers. Talking about features is what makes you feel good about yourself.
For a long time, marketers have been inadvertently following the StoryBrand mentality–they understood that it's essential to put the customer first, but they didn't quite hit their target. The old-fashioned "features vs. benefits" narrative wasn't enough to catch them all.
Here's what StoryBrand marketing does:
- It shows your customers that they are essential to you. They are the hero of the story.
- It validates their problems and connects with their pain.
- It establishes your company as the trustworthy guide that they can come to for help.
- It gives you a prominent call to action, so any browser knows exactly what step to take next.
- It provides a clear, simple path to success through our products and services.
- It lays out the potential for successes and failures to help illustrate the value of what you do.
When you embrace StoryBrand marketing to guide you, your brand will improve because your customers will experience all these essentials of marketing.
How can StoryBrand marketing benefit my business?
I love StoryBrand because it works. We even have the academic research to prove it.
Do you need a little more convincing that it makes your marketing more effective? There was some Ph.D. research published in 2020 illustrates just how effective this framework is across all industries. JJ Peterson, who works at StoryBrand, did his Ph.D. on the StoryBrand Framework. He studied hundreds of companies in all sectors, looking at how and when the StoryBrand framework works, why it works, and what kind of businesses are best for it.
Dr. JJ found that StoryBrand worked 100% of the time as long as the steps were implemented fully. When it fails, it's usually because the brand hasn't taken the time to follow its process completely.
As mentioned above, marketing should not focus on the business being a hero but instead showcase how it benefits the customer.
How many times have you seen something like this in an advertisement:
"We guarantee the best in our industry because we are experts in our field. Our staff undergo training and can be certified professionals. We ensure quality every step of the way with rigorous testing while staying on top, earning many awards along the way. Blah blah blah...Call us for more information."
It's tired and self-indulgent.
Many businesses are stuck in the old way of marketing instead of talking about themselves and boasting about their successes, not their customers.
How to Sell a Tide Pen
Let's look at the difference between conventional marketing ideas versus taking the StoryBrand approach as it pertains to how people might market a product.
Let's imagine for a moment that you work in the marketing department for Tide. In this imaginary scenario, you're in an everyday marketing meeting. The top executives want to share their "Why" as they think of a new marketing campaign. They get together with you and your team in a boardroom and start brainstorming ideas.
The meeting chair puts a question before the group, "Okay, everyone, we have been leading this industry for years. These days, we all know that anyone can be disrupted. We need a marketing campaign that will take us to the future. What can we tell people to convince them to choose Tide over our competitors?"
One person puts their hand up: "We were one of the first detergents on the market designed to fight stains. Let's tell people that we are innovators."
There is an agreement around the room as heads nod.
Another adds, "Let's tell our story. We've been perfecting our stain-fighting detergent for sixty years now. We are experts in stain removal."
The executives love it. There is a clear consensus while the room starts to bubble with excitement.
Another adds, "And as far as I know, no one here has ever been to jail. We can be trusted!"
Thinking they are really onto something, another partner stands up and shouts, "And we are the number one brand recommended by washing machine companies!"
The room erupts in chanting and whisks the VP of Marketing out in a hero's parade to celebrate over drinks.
"We're number one! We're number one!" can be heard echoing through the office as they leave.
The scribe taking notes is left in the room alone, thinking that this message doesn't resonate with her. Regardless, she pens her summary and forwards it to the advertising department for next year's campaign with a grimace:
"Buy a Tide Pen because we are the number one, innovative, and trustworthy detergent company… and we are proud of it."
Who is inspired? Indeed not the person that captured that conversation, and very likely not you either.
If I had used this exact methodology with my wife and asked her out by saying:
"Go out with me because I am cool, funny, and trustworthy….and I am proud of it. I'll pick you up at eight on Friday!"
I would have heard crickets and then a click of the phone disconnecting.
This is one of the flaws of starting with "Why." People are put off by you talking about yourself too quickly. The Tide statement above is that it is all about Tide and doesn't communicate any benefit to me.
What if, hypothetically, I was their target market? Let's examine how starting with WHO can produce different results.
One Of My Nightmares
StoryBrand marketing addresses the intended audience, captures their attention, and solves a specific problem the audience needs to overcome.
Here's how it all starts…
It's the morning of the big presentation. I have spent hours researching and going through every detail of the talk. I have read it out loud to myself in front of the mirror multiple times.
I say goodbye to the wife and kids pulling out of the driveway like a conquering hero. In a few minutes, I am going through the drive-thru of my favorite coffee shop. My favorite coffee is now riding shotgun, and we are off to save the world.
As I navigate the route and weave through traffic, I feel confident that I have selected the right suit with a matching shirt and tie...but no spare shirt; why would I? What could go wrong?- I am listening to my favorite pump-up music, and just like clockwork, I hit a bump, and needless to say, the lid was slightly askew, and almost as if it were in slow motion, several coffee drops rose from my cup.
I see most of the land on my shirt. Oh great, the conquering hero is now without confidence and vigor...all because now the first thing people are going to notice and focus on is the apparent coffee spots on my shirt.
I am stressed enough about the meeting. Now I have stains that not even my jacket and tie will cover. My anxiety level has just maxed out!
What would erase my anxiety? Something to make it so that I wasn't worried about whether or not my coffee would turn into a wardrobe crisis.
The Tide Pen assures me that no matter what substance may hit my shirt, I could probably get it off with that magical, patented, translucent fluid.
This is a true story. Thanks to my wife's gentle wisdom, I keep a Tide Pen in my car because I did live through this nightmare. I should keep two around because one in the briefcase never hurts either!
The Tide guys in that marketing meeting should've cast the vision of a coffee-loving, shirt and tie-wearing businessman, who doesn't have a secondary wardrobe tucked in his briefcase, and who's terrified of spilling! If not you, I bet you know someone exactly like this. By turning their eyes and focusing on the customer, they will get the attention of the right customers, and sales will skyrocket! That's the power of a compelling narrative rather than just talking about yourself.
What's the difference between the above two approaches? There's a difference in perspective with the hero of the stories: The first story focused on the company. It was all about Tide as the hero, where the second looked at the transformation Tide could offer a customer by casting the consumer as the hero. That's the StoryBrand difference.
StoryBrand marketing is about identifying problems and then helping others solve them. What if, in your Journey to spread your ideas, you got up each day and instead of shouting, "Look at me! Listen to my story! See how great I am!" you thought: "Who am I helping win their story today?"
This kind of message works. That's why StoryBrand creates raving fans.
StoryBrand marketing is one of the most significant ways to present your ideas to spread and how you make the income and impact you're looking for in your business.
StoryBrand has created a free, interactive tool for businesses looking to use storytelling in their marketing. It is called a "brand script." By visiting mystorybrand.com, you can work through the tool to develop a brand script for your business! The tool includes video descriptions of each section and an outline for you to follow to make the process as simple as possible.
5.StoryBrand Gives You Outstanding Copywriting
"What is StoryBrand copywriting?" you may be asking.
Isn't StoryBrand a framework?
How does it affect my words?"
Those are insightful questions worth addressing. I've always appreciated that the StoryBrand framework is rooted in psychology, but it's also INTENSELY practical.
You can use StoryBrand to create better copy for virtually any platform. Use it in your marketing materials, PDF guides, lead magnets, website, social media, email marketing, anything!
Before you write a word of copy, remember the steps you've outlined in your BrandScript from StoryBrand. If you haven't had a chance to create your own yet, click here to get started for free.
Combining the best practices of tried-and-true narrative storytelling, copywriting, and modern marketing, this framework gives you the foundation you need to write better copy for any platform.
Let's be honest: Not all of us are writers. Copywriting can be daunting, particularly when we know everything that's going on in our heads and have a tough time figuring out the right words.
Fortunately, when you let StoryBrand copywriting guide your content creation, you've got a path to follow so that you can always know what to say. You can always offer content that helps customers solve problems, reach their goals, and answer questions you know they're wrestling with. As you help them, you show yourself to be a trustworthy guide. Your brand simply becomes a resource for getting from A to B. You can do that in your writing because you do it every day in your business!
Remember, when visitors land on your website, they're most interested in learning how you can help them. That's their priority. What they don't want is to have you try and sell them on your products or services.
This means that the content needs to focus on their world, not yours. It's so important that we remember this at all times because it changes everything: what you write about, how you talk about yourself and your business.
Show them that you understand their needs and motivations, so they'll take what you offer seriously.
The StoryBrand approach to copywriting and marketing takes the pressure off of you to write perfectly about yourself. Instead, you'll be able to focus your content on how a person can benefit from your product or service offerings. It's all about them in the end!
Your Writing Will Be More Focussed
When you have expertise in something, it can be a struggle to simplify your explanation of exactly what you do. With StoryBrand, you don't have to worry about that. You can spend your time writing the content that will make people want what you offer, rather than worrying about how to describe it in a way that satisfies all of those pesky requirements for copywriting and marketing.
The more clearly your message is relayed to your audience, the less they have to process this information. This way, they can digest it faster and increase their conversion rates because there's no time wasted trying to figure out what you're saying.
You can learn more about the consideration phase of the customer journey in this helpful article.
StoryBrand's focus on simplifying the buying process means your copywriting will naturally improve as you'll focus on writing about only what matters. It's a great exercise in stepping back and cutting unnecessary words from your writing, leaving only what actually makes a difference for readers.
StoryBrand Copywriting Principles: How to get started clarifying your company message
How can businesses compete in today's changing marketplace? To stand out, businesses need to hone their branding efforts and connect with an audience.
Start With The StoryBrand 7-Part (SB7) Framework.
In his SB7 Framework, Miller explains that a company's customers must be the heroes in a story. The company takes the role of guide, helping to solve their problems.
Storybrand's goal is to help companies craft a story that will engage and attract their audience. Hero's Journey, according to Miller, provides these businesses with clear messaging and successful outcomes.
Here are the seven principles Miller teaches us to follow to improve our writing:
1) Make your audience the hero.
I am not the hero of my company's story, and neither are you. Your prospective clients will help shape your brand.
Once you define your target market, you're ready to define its problems.
2) Define your audience's problems.
Storytelling is what elevates your brand and provides the intended value to potential customers. What are the concerns that keep your clients up at night?
Key takeaway: consider the hook first; it determines what message you should advertise.
3) Be a guide with a solution.
With three girls under seven at home, we watch a lot of Disney movies. The good news is that while the girls are enthralled in the world of princesses, I can psycho-analyze the power of Disney storytelling. Cinderella is a perfect example of a guide helping a hero solve a problem and achieve a dream. In Cinderella, the evil stepmother forbids the would-be princess from attending the ball. Cinderella believes in her dream of a better life. She does not give up that it is possible. The fairy godmother appears as the guide just at the right moment. The godmother helps her by giving her the perfect dress and carriage to attend the ball.
Perhaps you're not a Disney fan. Or maybe you're more interested in learning about Chubbs, the pro golfer who helps Happy Gilmore learn to golf. The hero's Journey is to defeat Shooter McGavin, win the golf tournament and save his grandmother from foreclosure. Then there are other famous guides like Haymitch in Hunger Games, Yoda in Star Wars, and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings.
Your role in your writing is to be like the fairy godmother, Chubbs, Yoda, or Gandalf.
Make sure to be empathetic and competent when telling the story of your brand. Your clients want their problems solved, not a hero.
What are the steps for solving problems? There's one easy answer: get a plan.
4) Create a clear plan.
The plan you create is vital for your client, so clear instructions are required. If they are confused about the next step, both parties lose out fast. There are two types of plans, the process plan, and the agreement plan.
The process plan is meant to have a client leave your office feeling that it's not difficult at all to do business with you. A sample plan could include three steps:
- Schedule an appointment.
- Allow us to create a plan for you.
- We'll execute your plan together so that you grow.
The agreement plan should list the services you provide to your clients. Being clear and specific will reduce their worries about the prospective risks of doing business with you.
Develop your plans and name them. This makes it look like a package. People love to buy packages, plans, or something that they can easily wrap their minds around.
It is essential to have a plan and a clear call to action, but utilizing resources will help the process go smoothly.
5) Include a clear call to action. A compelling call to action phrase in your brand communication will guide your client into taking the next step in their Journey. To identify the appropriate call to action for your marketing channel (website, social media, or advertisement), reflect on what you want your clients to do.
With their attention constantly pulled in different directions by new solutions to their problems offered by marketers eager for their patronage, it's essential not to fall victim here as well and lose sight of clarity.
There are two types of calls to action:
- A direct call to action urges your customers to contact you today, and as needed, provides a phone number or website address.
- A transitional call to action is something for people who are not quite ready to buy but want to learn more. A free trial is one of many ways to learn more about your business. Other methods include a free, downloadable white paper or hosting a complimentary one-hour phone chat that will answer any questions about your practice.
Once you've called your clients to action, it's time to up the stakes in your story.
6) Discuss the potential for failure.
What happens in a story if the hero fails? It could be because they didn't listen to the guide or failed to take the call to action. The consequences of failure are always real. Just like dentists warn us about the consequences of failing to floss and doctors warn us of the cost of smoking, good marketing reminds people that there are consequences for not acting.
It's your job to reassure potential customers, prospects, and clients that as their guide, you will do your best to set them on a path to stability and success.
7) End your story with success.
The best part of a story is when the problem resolves, and there is a great victory for the hero. As the pain resolves, the story loop is closed with your customers. Now it is time to be as clear about their potential for ultimate success as you were about their challenges. It's the marketer's job to make sure they cast this kind of vision for the hero. How does your brand help them make their goals and dreams come true? Ultimately, crafting a solid story is all about happy endings!
It All Starts With A BrandScript
What is a StoryBrand BrandScript?
A BrandScript is a marketing strategy tool that uses the elements of the story to help your business connect with more customers.
Every business needs to invite its customers into a story in its marketing. A BrandScript provides the foundational narrative concealing your company's best features to distinguish it from its competitors.
Donald Miller states this well:
"Brands that connect their products and services to an ideal of how things should be created greater value for their products" – Donald Miller
Many small business owners find the marketing process confusing and stressful, taking away from their joy of running any company.
Many articles cover the same tactics in marketing, but they all have one thing in common. Nothing about marketing is easy.
I can offer my assistance in making marketing more straightforward. With the right tools, it becomes easier to be successful. A BrandScript is one of the best tools that I provide for this purpose.
In other words, a BrandScript will help you identify:
- who your ideal customer is
- the problem your customer is trying to overcome
- the success they want to experience
- the failure they are trying to avoid
- why they should trust you as their guide to help them out of their problem
- how to help your customer win their story
- what your Call to Action for each potential customer needs to be
Your BrandScript helps your customer to identify what transformation they want. Marketing is then kick-started from this point, thus making a massive difference in your success!
The key to a BrandScript is that it changes your marketing approach.
You've probably grown accustomed to marketing your company or products as the star of the show or hero of the story. Most marketing is built on this paradigm, but StoryBrand reverses things by framing you and your customers as valuable "protagonists" in an incredible journey together.
Businesses have been pushing the importance of their story for a long time, but customers don't care about your story if they can't relate to it.
As a strategy tool, your brand script ensures that marketing always focuses on the customer's story. It makes them the hero of the story, while you become their guide to success through the use of your services and product!
One of the main reasons marketing without a story is so costly and ineffective is that you are trying to build your brand before building a core identity.
The StoryBrand BrandScript is the first thing you need to know about StoryBrand.
A StoryBrand account involves seven elements: your character, emotional and logical problems, the solution you give them to their problem, how amazing life will be once that problem is solved, and what makes you different from other solutions.
A typical BrandScript takes months to complete, which can seem like a daunting task when you have an already busy work schedule.
Some businesses might ride out the process of starting their BrandScript but never finish it because they can't reach a consensus among team members or find time in their hectic schedules to work on it.
When you work with a Certified StoryBrand Guide, that time can be cut significantly. You benefit from an outsider looking at your business's branding and messaging from a new perspective. They can identify missing holes in your story, unclear parts of your message, or jargon that you no longer view as important.
Why Do You Need To Hire A Certified StoryBrand Guide To Help You With Your BrandScript?
A StoryBrand Certified Guide is someone who StoryBrand has trained to create BrandScripts for businesses like yours. Many of them have made BrandScripts for years in a variety of industries.,
They know how to use phrases that make customers identify with their brand instantly. That is one of the most significant benefits of hiring a StoryBrand Coach. Instead of trying to do it all on your own, you can feel confident knowing that it was done right.
We know the confusion when you're looking for an excellent company to help you find your story. If you want to have a clear picture of how storybrand can be applied to your business, we recommend not wasting hours and hours trying out different companies and strategies. Instead of doing all that work yourself, it is better to hire experts who can help you create a clear message in a short amount of time.
"People are not drawn to the best products and services," Miller says. "They're drawn to the ones they can understand the fastest."
The StoryBrand Framework helps you find the right words to say about your company. You can help customers by giving them information. The BrandScript is a tool that allows you frame the correct story of your company.
The StoryBrand Brandscript tool is free. You can head over to mystorybrand.com right now and try it out.
"Your StoryBrand BrandScript will be a powerful resource helping you organize and simplify your message, and you'll use it again and again." — Donald Miller, "Building a StoryBrand"
I hate that great businesses go unnoticed because of a messaging problem. When you embrace the above StoryBrand principles, you'll see that you shift your attention from yourself and onto the customer's story. When you help them win (and talk about how you can help them win), more people will be attracted to that. Your writing is going to improve and you'll have a consistent theme in your copywriting.
If you want some help to create that clear message you know you need or if you need some help creating StoryBrand marketing, collateral, don't hesitate to reach out to me and the Get Clear team here: [email protected]
We believe in this stuff. We've seen it work. We know it will help you too.