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The Secret to Creating & Telling Your Brand's Story

Mar 12, 2018
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Your brand is much more than your logo, colors, and font styles. Your brand's ultimate effectiveness will be judged by the way you make people feel. Creating a brand's story is a practice I believe all businesses should go through. Your story is what will either push people away or attract them to your brand. 

In the video below I go over two popular modules for telling a persuasive story.

The first is called StoryBrand and was developed by Donald Miller. You can check out his book here. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

They also have a free resource you can use to start building your story. Check that out here.

The second is a structure created by Duarte. Watch Nancy Duarte explain this in more detail in her Tedx Talk here.



Video Transcript:

I recently finished reading Building a Story Brand, which is a book by Donald Miller. It's a great book if you're looking to learn how to clarify your message, how do you really tell the full story of your brand and how it interacts with your clients' or potential clients' lives in order to help them solve the problems they most need to solve.

Today, we're going to be talking about the StoryBrand method a little bit, and also, we're going to be talking about how to tell that persuasive story using a model developed by Duarte.

Let's get into StoryBrand. What they've done really, really well is help you tell the story from start to finish. What is the way that your brand or the ways that your business can interact with your customers' lives in order to improve them?

It starts with your character. Now, the character, you may think that it's you or your product, but really we need to flip it around. The character in this, the main character of our story isn't our brand. It's not us. It's our clients and it's our prospects. It's them. They are the hero and we want them to be seen as the hero. It's going to help them feel connected to our story immediately, and it's also going to let them know that we're here to serve them and help them.

We first need to define our customers. This is where maybe persona research comes in really handy or doing some sort of other research and understanding our market demographics so we can get a better idea of who are we doing business with, who are we going to tell this story about.

It's important that you don't skip this step and just make assumptions and say, "Oh, well it's this or it's that," or, "It's for everybody." That's probably the worst answer. What you want to do is really begin to understand who you want to do business with. What is their day like? What do they do when they're not working? Who are they hanging out with? Get into the inside and outside of their lives so that you can have a better idea of who your main character's going to be.

If you're going to write a book and you just said, "Eh, it's for everybody," you're not going to have a very compelling story because nobody's going to be able to really identify. It's too broad. It's too thin. You've got to get really, really targeted and really understand who you want to tell your story about because they're the ones that we want to have success through this whole story with.

Once you've defined them, what you need to do is also define their problem. What are they frustrated with? For instance, for my business, most of the time people come to us, they have a website or they have a brand that they want to market online. They're not really sure where to start. Maybe they've tried Facebook or Google Ads or maybe they've hired an SEO guy overseas and none of this stuff is working, but they know they have a compelling product, they know they have something that's valuable, but they can't get the story out. That's often their problem. I don't know how to get my brand out in this noisy world. 

Once we've diagnosed that problem, we can begin to set up our solution, but you've got to know what the problem is first. You can't just hope to know. Defining the problem is the second step in telling this really compelling story.

Now, the third step is connecting them with a guide. Now, this is where we come in. We are the guide. We're not the hero. We're the force that helps them solve their problems. If you're a Star Wars fan, it's Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker. If you're not a Star Wars fan, it's the fairy godmother to Cinderella, right? The fairy godmother's not the star of the show, but she's the one who enabled Cinderella to be the princess hero, right?

The guide comes alongside the hero, teaches the hero, gives the hero insights, educates the hero, and then helps the hero solve the problem. What the guide's main goal is, is to really give somebody a plan, a plan of action, a plan for success. This is the way you're going to begin to solve the problem that they're facing.

Now, the plan alone isn't going to be enough, unless that's all you want to do is sell plans, but again, I wouldn't stop there because the plan is only as good as the action that's put in. What you need to do is once you've disclosed this plan; is call them (the potential buyer) to action. What are they going to do with it? How are they supposed to use the plan and execute the plan?

I could give you a manuscript on how to set up a website, but if you don't ever set up a website, that plan is not going to do it for you, so we have to help them take an action and understand what those actions are we're going to take with them. Clarify this. Make it simple. Too often, many times, we have hundreds of actions that we need our clients to take in order to do business with us. We're putting up these barriers in front of ourselves, in front of our content, in front of our business that prevents people from easily doing business with us.

They (StoryBrand) recommend, and I recommend too, making this a three-step process. What are three simple steps that someone needs to take in order to have you help them solve their problem? What are they? Just think about that for a little bit and determine what are those simple steps, very clear steps that you can identify and clearly communicate with them that they need to take to make this relationship work.

Then, what you've done, you want to also define three successes and three ways you've helped them avoid failure. Fear of failure is a real thing. People don't want to fail. Now, if you're an entrepreneur, if you're a business owner, you understand that failure's part of it. We all understand that, but if we can help somebody not have to go through the failure by helping them learn from our own frustrations, our own just real life examples, that's a powerful way to connect and say, "Hey, I understand what it's like to be where you are right now. I understand where you're coming from." Empathy is a huge part of this whole process.

That was an overview of how this works. I highly recommend you check out the book. It really outlines the process deeply. If we were to look at it from this top level, you see there's a flow to the story. It's like any other story you've seen. The character has a problem who meets a guy that gives them a plan that calls them to action and they're successful without having to deal with the failures in life.

Every single story, every single big movie, every single big hit in the entire world uses a flow like this in order to engage viewers, in order to engage people in the story process, and your business could do the exact same thing. Having clarity in your story, having focus in your story is what's going to help you make those connections with your audience.

Now, we want to take this story and we want to put it into action. We want to put it in our content. We want to put it in our emails. We want to put it in every kind of interaction that we have with a client, and this is where we can use this model here by Duarte at the bottom to kind of bring them through the process.

We understand who we're marketing to. We're starting to get an idea of the problems that they have, but how should we tell the story? I really love this model and it's very, very simple. We start with what it is, asking where are we. Again, I'm going to use the model of my business. I'm trying to grow my business online. We're lacking traction. We're having a hard time getting leads, so I might say, "We know that you're struggling. We know that it's a very noisy world and you're having a hard time connecting with people online."

What it could be is the next step, "But partnering with us, we can help you bring clarity to your brand and begin to drive people to your website who are interested in learning more about who you are," then we drop it back down again, what it is. "There are hundreds of businesses just like you that are trying to do the same thing, and you don't know how to get an edge on that."

What it could be, "We can help you get that edge by targeting your clients in a more specific way that helps them find you and connect with you in a meaningful direction," then we go back to what it is, and then we come back one more time, what it could be, what it is.

Again, you want to really establish what it is. That really draws out the pain point. "We know that you're having a hard time closing those new leads because we've been there, too, but guess what? By partnering with us, we will help you fulfill your passion as a business owner and grow your business and solve problems, whatever this is, that new bliss. This is what life's going to be like when we join forces and make this thing happen," and then you call them to action.

Notice that both of these have actions associated with them, and that's a huge, huge game changer. There are so many sites out there that lack a clear call to action. Now, a call to action is the desired next step, and there's going to be people who are early on in your buying process where that next step may be to download an eBook or sign up for more information, but there may be somebody who's further down and their call to action is to buy now. 

Don't be afraid to ask, and don't be afraid to ask often. Most of the times when you ask early on, people are going to ignore it, but you've got to keep asking, especially if you believe in your product and you know you have something to sell. If you begin to define your story and you begin to tell your story in a compelling way, you're able to walk people on this journey.

Now, here's the power of digital storytelling. A lot of people go in and say all they need to do is write a lot of content, all they have to do is check off the boxes and people will come. That's not how it works. The brands that make a difference and the brands that really engage with people online are the ones that create an empathetic connection.

That means that the business owner or the marketer stands in their client's shoes, stands in their character's shoes and says, "I get it. I know what it's like. I've been there. I've struggled trying to grow my business. I've struggled to build traffic online, and here's what I did, and here's how I can help you do the same thing and empower you to do the same thing." We walk this journey with them in the story, and that's what draws them in, and that's what draws them in to create a real connection.

I think a lot of time, marketing is seen as, "Here's how to manipulate customers." Well, if you manipulate somebody, they buy from you, well, they're going to immediately have buyer's remorse and they may not stay committed to you, but if you empathize with somebody, you create a real connection, you're going to have a customer that believes in you, that believes in your product, that believes in your service and wants to continue to do business with you. Not because you're nice to them or that thing I bought or tried one time, but you're a partner with them in the success of their everyday life.

Don't overlook the power of story. It's not only going to help you improve that customer connection, it's going to help you improve the context of your website, how it performs in search, the engagement you get on your different social channels. Story plays a role through everything else that you do, so I highly recommend that you sit down today and start to find your story. Start to think about those different aspects.

The Duarte persuasive model, look it up online. Google it right now. You'll be able to see it. StoryBrand, Google it right now. You'll be able to see it, watch some videos, get acquainted with it. Spend some time and understand who your customers are, understand how you can position yourself as a guide, call them to action, and begin to build a brand that connects in a much deeper way. Hope you guys learned something this week and until next time, Happy Marketing.

Build a Brand That Connects - Get Your Free Guide

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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