Why I’m in love with this easy to follow framework to totally revamp your marketing efforts.
Let me start by thanking my good friend Mike Rose for introducing me to the book “Building a Story Brand - Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller. Since he told me about the book a few months ago, I have listened to or read it four times. It’s just that good and if you are a business owner, you should read it, too.
The book outlines a process to clearly define your marketing message. It is so simple to follow, yet incredibly powerful in clarifying your message. It will help you avoid a costly mistake in your own marketing efforts.
Let’s face it - lots of marketing is ineffective because it makes you or your company the HERO of your marketing messaging. Think about your own website for a moment. Does your website, like so many others, tell the story of how the company was founded, or how long you’ve been in business or all the great things you can do for your customers?
If it does - chances are you’re making the same classic mistake that causes most companies to waste enormous amounts of money on marketing. Most companies make themselves the hero of the story. Their marketing talks about how great the company is, how wonderful their products or services are, and how many awards they have won.
But, here’s the thing… Everyone, including your customers and prospects, wants to be the hero of their own story. Although we don’t want someone else to be the hero of our story, every hero in every story needs a “guide” to help them along the path to success.
Hamlet had his father’s ghost
In Moneyball, Billy Beane had Peter Brand
In Lord of the Rings, Frodo had Gandalf
Even Luke Skywalker had Yoda
In each of these epic stories, the HERO had a guide… but they were still the hero of the story…And if your marketing positions your customer as the hero and your company as the guide then you will be able to connect with your customers and prospects in a way that most companies don’t.
What is StoryBranding?
Your brand needs to tell a good story, but many companies don't know what that really means or how to do it. Our human brains prefer to process stories. A good story tends to follow a familiar, comfortable formula. Stories are interesting and memorable. Good stories touch you emotionally and intellectually and make you pay attention.
The StoryBrand Framework is a marketing messaging tool that allows organizations to clarify their message using a seven part-process that leverages the power of story. This framework is a way of structuring your marketing messaging around the hero's journey.
Every classic story, from Homer's Iliad to Star Wars, goes something like this.
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.
That is the StoryBrand 7-Part Framework.
A great story involves transformation. The Hero goes on a journey wherein they transform from a weak character into a strong character, a failure to a success, an outcast to a superhero.
Who is the Hero and who is the Guide of your brand story?
Let's go through each point of the framework and see how it applies to the way you talk about yourself and your customers. I'll use some examples from Mastery Partners brand script along the way, to help drive this home for you.
Step 1 - A Character
The story begins when we meet the main character, the Hero, and we find out what they want. The Hero in your StoryBrand is your Customer. A Hero needs a Guide to help them fulfill their destiny, so you, then, are the Guide. Your brand message, your story, must center on the Hero and what the Hero wants.
You must understand your customer and what they want. What is their desired outcome - What is their ultimate goal? State that clearly and begin your message by speaking directly to the needs and desires of your customer. In other words, "what's in it for me?"
If you talk only about yourself, your company, or how great you are, the customer will lose interest quickly.
OUR HERO at Mastery Partners is the Business Owner who wants to transition their business on their terms.
Step 2 - Has a Problem
The Hero has obstacles to overcome before they can find success. What are the problems your customer is facing? Now, break problems down a little further into external problems, internal problems, and philosophical problems. Is there a villain in their story? If so, call it out! The villain is the thing or idea you and your customer are fighting.
Our villain is the fact that 83% of businesses that attempt to transition fail to do so successfully.
External Problems are the surface issues your customer faces.
For our clients the external problems are these: The vast majority of their net worth is tied up in an illiquid asset; and They want to transition their business, but they don’t know where to start. For them, the process can be overwhelming.
Internal Problems are the feelings and frustrations of your customer.
Our Example: They don’t really know the value of their business. They may be completely unprepared to transition the business. They might want to keep working because they don’t know what they will do in “retirement.” Or, they think they can put off the planning until they are ready to transition the business.
Finally, philosophical problems usually begin with "it's wrong to..." or "you shouldn't have to..."
Mastery example: Every business owner SHOULD be able to transition their business on their own terms.
Step 3 - And Meets a Guide
So, we've finally gotten to the point of the story where you can start talking about your company! As the Guide, focus on how you help solve the Hero's problems. A good Guide must demonstrate these two things - empathy and authority. Empathy means you understand the Hero's problems.
For example, at Mastery - we’ve been in their shoes and understand the challenges of running a business. We’ve also suffered the consequences of making mistakes along the way.
Authority shows that you have what it takes to help the Hero overcome those problems.
For example, at Mastery we have completed 100 transitions and know how to guide others to the same success we’ve enjoyed.
Step 4 - Who Gives Them a Plan
The Guide always has a plan to help the Hero. What's your plan? StoryBrand advises using a simple, 3-step plan that makes it easy for your customers to say "YES" right away.
Here's an example - we have a 4-step process that prepares a business for transition. We start with an assessment of where the business is today, followed by a roadmap to achieve the desired result. Then we help the business execute the plan and ultimately the business is ready to transition on their terms.
Your process may have many smaller steps in between, but the point is that your customer doesn't need to know every step in order to get started. If you confuse your customer, you lose! Keep it simple. This is also a great place to slip in a “guarantee.” Think of Men’s Wearhouse - “You’re going to like the way you look - I guarantee it!”
Step 5 - And Calls Them To Action
You probably already understand this one. A Call to Action or CTA. Don't hide your call to action. Don't beat around the bush. What do you want your customer to do? Make it clear that this is the ONE THING they need to do. And repeat that call to action throughout your website.
You may want to use a “Direct CTA” and one or more “Transitional CTAs” which we like to call a Lead Magnet. In the book, Miller describes this as the "Marry me or date me" way of thinking about these two types of CTAs. If your visitor isn't ready to marry you (by becoming a customer), maybe they just want to go on a date and learn more about you. That's where you can use your transitional CTA so you can start nurturing this prospect.
Direct CTAs might include:
Buy Now Button
Buy our product or engage our services.
Get Started Now
At Mastery, because all of our services are completely custom, our direct CTA is Schedule a Consultation with Tom.
Transitional CTAs might include:
You're not ready to buy? Learn more about us.
Register for a Webinar
Download a Free White Paper or eBook
At Mastery, we offer a Free Guide to improving the value of your business, and soon, we’ll offer a free preliminary valuation report.
Part 6 - That Ends in Success
Think of a good movie you watched recently. As you watched it, you were probably aware of the end goal and what the hero was trying to achieve (you know - save the world, or unlock their hidden potential, or marry their soulmate). What will success look like if they finally get the thing they want? As a brand, you need to paint a clear vision of the future for your customer. Remind them of their happy ending and why they need to choose you.
At Mastery - our process prepares a business to be able to transition on the owners terms, at their price, and in their timeframe!
Part 7 - And Helps Them Avoid Failure
If there are no stakes in the game, it's easy to lose interest in the Hero's journey. Remind the Hero of what happens if they fail. If they don't choose you as their Guide, they will fail to solve their problems. They won't grow or get what they want. Or worse, they'll go backwards.
For us - we remind them that 83% of all lower middle market and small business transitions fail and that many transitions never get started because the business is not really prepared to transition.
Now that you have defined the 7 steps of StoryBrand - you can map out the Character Transformation of your Hero. In other words, the Hero goes from _______________ to __________________.
For us, the Hero goes FROM a business where most of the owner’s net worth is locked up in an illiquid asset with no plan to unlock that wealth TO having a clear, focused strategy to transition their business!
A good story has the power to attract the right people to your website, engage and hold their attention, and persuade them that you are the guide to help solve their problems. If you can tell a good customer-centered story on your website, email, blog, and social media, then you can grow your business. If you can't, then your potential customers will get confused, lose interest, and go elsewhere.
There are free tools available at StoryBrand.com or BusinessMadeSimple.com - but I highly recommend you either download the book - audio, electronic, or hard copy. Because - if you can transform your marketing using StoryBrand - you can attract the right customers and really improve the value of your business.
Take the time to work through the 7 parts of StoryBrand and next week we will continue the journey. I’ll talk about how to integrate your StoryBrand into your marketing strategy.
Call to Action:
Take the time RIGHT NOW to work through the 7 parts of StoryBrand and next week we will continue the journey. I’ll talk about how to integrate your StoryBrand into your marketing strategy.
Let me know HOW you are going to use Story Brand to upgrade your marketing and really impact the value of your business! Seriously, message me on LinkedIn, on Facebook, email me or call my cell. I really want to know. What are you going to do today - to Maximize Business Value?
And remember, we’re here to help. If we can help you in any way don’t hesitate to reach out!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom Bronson is the founder and President of Mastery Partners, a company that helps business owners maximize business value, design exit strategy, and transition their business on their terms. Mastery utilizes proven techniques and strategies that dramatically improve business value that was developed during Tom’s career 100 business transactions as either a business buyer or seller. As a business owner himself, he has been in your situation a hundred times, and he knows what it takes to craft the right strategy. Bronson is passionate about helping business owners and has the experience to do it. Want to chat more or think Tom can help you? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his book, Maximize Business Value, Begin with The Exit in Mind (2020).
Mastery Partners, where our mission is to equip business owners to Maximize Business Value so they can transition their business on their terms. Our mission was born from the lessons we’ve learned from over 100 business transactions, which fuels our desire to share our experiences and wisdom so you can succeed.