Do you have problems creating a compelling marketing message? If you do, keep on reading. The book “Building a Story Brand – Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller may be the solution you’re looking for.
To set the stage for the book, let’s step back for a moment and think about this question: Why do you love a book or movie?
Here are my reasons:
Good books and movies draw me in. They take me on an adventure, transport me into a different world, and I forget everything around me. I can’t wait to turn the page or see the next scene. Imagine Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings (yes, I do love fantasy books).
Robbi Vorhaus, a self-proclaimed Storytelling Evangelist describes it this way:
“When storytelling is great you magically connect the heart (emotion) and the head (thought), resulting in your audience experiencing – feeling – expressing – and acting – in the way you intended.”
So, how does this apply to marketing and increasing sales?
First some facts:
- Facts tell, but stories sell. (author unknown)
- Sales increase approximately 20-fold when a brand story is told well. (*1)
- Despite what we are telling ourselves, we don’t buy based on logic – we buy based on how we feel and connect with a product or service, e.g. Apple products. (*2)
- Storytelling enables marketers to develop deeper connections with their audience… (*3)
- Great stories don’t appeal to our logic, but they often appeal to our senses. (*4)
Back to Miller and Story Brand. He wrote the book “Building A Story Brand…” describing a 7-step framework to create a story for any service or product. He explains each of the 7 elements in detail, their purpose, what to focus on, and, to make it tangible, he added a lot of examples. He also reminds us that, in order to have a clear message, we need to focus on one key service or product. If we attempt to cram too much into our message, we dilute it and lose customers as a result. The one-page Brand Script, which can be found on the author’s website under “Free Resources”, is a guide and abbreviated version of all 7 steps, ready to be used when needed.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at the 7 elements. I capitalized them so that they are easily spotted.
1. The CHARACTER aka your customer.
The question here is: What does your customer want? Use any piece of information you can get to better understand them. Start with some general information like age and gender, moving on to what they want, like, dislike; what’s important to them, to the point where you relate all these pieces of information to what they want from your product or service. The better you know and understand your customer, the better your message will be.
2. The PROBLEM or villain
What’s the problem your customer needs to solve? Your customer needs to survive, in a literal or figurative sense, or they need to strive by solving their PROBLEM. Based on Miller, problems are multi-layered, but the majority of marketing messages addresses only the most obvious layer: the EXTERNAL PROBLEM. Miller adds what he calls the INTERNAL PROBLEM or frustration with the status quo, and a PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEM or the question “why does it matter?”. Why is that important? Because based on research the real drivers behind purchase decisions are the internal and philosophical problem. Here an example to make it tangible: Imagine Tesla, the electric car company and a customer in need of a new car. The external problem is the need for a new car. The internal problem could be not wanting to drive a gas guzzler or spending too much money on gas. The philosophical problem is wanting a car that is eco-friendly.
3. The GUIDE aka you or your product
As the GUIDE you have three tasks: Firstly, encourage your customer by solving their problem and helping them to succeed. How you accomplish this depends on your product or service and of course your personality. Secondly, you show empathy and understanding for their situation, their problem, or frustration. Put yourself in their shoes to make them feel “…heard, seen and felt.” (*5) Thirdly, demonstrate that you are the expert and authority who can help them solve their problem by using testimonials, statistics, awards, a portfolio…. to mention just a few.
4. The PLAN
The PLAN explains the path to success. All business transactions contain the risk of loss, at least from the customer’s point of view. With your PLAN you have the opportunity to address, reduce or even eliminate the sense of risk related to your product or service. How? Offer a money-back-guarantee, list all customer concerns in a Q & A and show if x happens, we do y, provide some instructions on what to do before buying your product, or what to do after your customer has bought your product.
5. CALL TO ACTION
Miller considers the power of the CALL TO ACTION extremely underused to the detriment of the company’s bottom line. According to him a measured approach in all your marketing material will make a big difference. Depending on your product or service it could be a DIRECT CALL TO ACTION such as “order now”, “call now”, or a TRANSACTIONAL CALL TO ACTION offering a sample, a test run, or a freebie. The transactional call to action has the great advantage of allowing your customer to get to know you, your product, your work which helps them to develop trust, build a relationship and as a result, lessens the risk of loss.
6. AVOID FAILURE
Here our customer learns “What’s at stake for them?” Or what will they lose if they don’t buy your product or service. A cognitive psychological phenomenon lies behind this step called: Loss Aversion. In a nutshell: people tend to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains. But, don’t be a fear monger. Think of this step as the salt in the soup. If you add to much you ruin it, if you add to little it tastes bland.
7. ENDS IN SUCCESS
ENDS IN SUCCESS is the last element in the Story Brand framework and also known as “story gap”. Simply put, a story gap is the description of the before and after. It serves the purpose of showing your customer where you will lead them, what they will gain by buying your product or service. Your job is it to create a compelling and achievable future (or after) that your customer is keen on reaching. Nancy Duarte gives a great TED talk about story gaps and why they are so powerful. A little hint: one of the examples she uses is the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr.
Got curious? Grab the book. There is so much more in it and you’ll be able to create your own Brand Script. It’s fun and may help you think about marketing your product or service in a different way.
I’d love to hear from you. What do you think about Story Brand? What is your secret marketing weapon?
Until next time in my “Book Corner”
(*1) Digital Marketing Institute; Article: 6 Storytelling trends marketing leaders should know about.
(*2) A TEDx Talk Perth by Bernadette Jiwa
(*3) Forbes Online; Article: 3 Reasons why storytelling should be a priority for marketers
(*4) Seth’s Blog: Ode: How to tell a great story
(*5) Building A Story Brand, page 79
I’m not related, sponsored, affiliated nor do I receive any commission or other benefits from Story Brand. My intention it to share tools and ideas that I find interesting and helpful.