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’ll go over two popular modules for telling a persuasive story. The first is called StoryBrand and was developed by Donald Miller. Check out his book Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen. They also have a free resource you can use to start building your story. The second is a structure created by Nancy Duarte. She’ll explain this in more detail in her Ted Talk.
Table of Contents
I recently finished reading Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. It’s a great book to learn how to clarify your message and tell the full story of your brand and how it interacts with your clients (or potential clients) lives to help them solve their problems.
Today, we will talk about the StoryBrand method and how to tell a persuasive story using a model developed by Duarte.
They’ll help you tell the story from start to finish. How can your business interact with your customers’ lives in order to improve them?
Define the Characters
It starts with the character of the story. You may think that it’s you or your product, but we need to flip it around. The main character of our story isn’t us or our brand. It’s our clients and prospects. They are the hero of their own story, and we want them to be seen as such. 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 a buyer persona is handy. Do some research and understand your market demographics so we can get a better idea of who we’ll tell this story about.
It’s important you don’t skip this step and make assumptions like, “Oh, well, it’s this, or it’s that,” or, “It’s for everybody.” That’s probably the worst answer. You want to know who should do business with you. What is their day like? What do they do when they’re not working? Who are they hanging out with? Get inside and outside of their lives so that you can have a better idea of who your main character will be.
If you’re going to write a book and you just say, “Eh, it’s for everybody,” you’re not going to have a compelling story because nobody will identify with it. It’s too broad. It’s too thin. Target and understand the character of your story because they’re the ones we want to see successful.
Diagnose the Problem
Once you’ve defined the character, diagnose their problem. What frustrates them? For instance, for my business, most of the time, people come to us with a website or brand that they want to market online, and they’re not sure where to start. Maybe they’ve tried Facebook or Google Ads, or they’ve hired an SEO guy overseas, and none of it’s working. They know they have a compelling product and that it’s valuable, but they can’t get the story out. As a marketing agency, we recognize 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 the solution, but you’ve got to know what the problem is first. Defining the problem is the second step in telling this really compelling story.
Connect Them With a Guide
This is where we come in as the guide. We’re not the hero but 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. The fairy godmother’s not the star of the show, but she’s the one who enabled Cinderella to be the princess hero.
The guide comes alongside the hero, teaches them, gives insights, educates, and helps the hero solve the problem. The guide’s main goal is to give a plan of action for success. This is the way you‘ll solve the problem that they’re facing.
The plan alone isn’t going to be enough (unless all you want to do is sell plans). I wouldn’t stop there because the plan is only as good as the action that’s put into it. Once you’ve disclosed the plan, call them (the potential buyer) to action. What are they going to do with it? How are they supposed to use and execute the plan?
I could give you a manuscript on how to set up a website, but if you don’t take action, the plan itself won’t do it for you. We must help them take execute the plan and understand what actions we’ll take with them. Clarify this, and make it simple. Many times, we have so many actions we need our clients to take to work with us. We’re putting up barriers in front of ourselves, our content, and our company that prevents people from easily doing business with us.
StoryBrand recommends, and I do, too, a three-step process. What are three simple steps your client should take for you to help them solve their problem? Decide on steps that you can clearly identify and communicate with them that they’ll take to make this relationship work.
Then, define three successes and three ways you’ve helped them avoid failure. If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, you understand that failure’s part of it. Empathy is a huge part of this whole process. If we can help someone avoid failure with our own real-life examples, that’s a powerful way to connect.
I highly recommend you check out the book. It outlines the process in depth. If we were to look at it from a top level, we see there’s a flow to the story. It’s like any other story you’ve seen: the character has a problem, meets a guy that gives a plan that calls them to action, and they’re successful without failures in life.
Every single story or big movie in the world uses a flow like this in order to engage viewers in the story process. Your business could do the same thing. Having clarity and focus in your story is what will help you make connections with your audience.
The Structure of a Great Story
We want to take this story and put it into action. We can put it in our content, emails, and every kind of interaction we have with a client. We can use this model by Duarte to bring them through the process. Understanding our target audience and the problems they have, how should we tell the story?
This simple model starts by asking, “Where are we?”
Again, I’m going to use the model of my business. If you’re trying to grow your business online, lacking traction, and having a hard time getting leads, 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.”
Then describe what it could be.
“But by 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 and review what it is.
“There are hundreds of businesses just like you trying to do the same thing, and you don’t know how to get an edge on that.”
Then, 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 finally, we come back one more time to say what it could be.
When you establish “what it is,” you draw out the pain point. “We know that you’re having a hard time closing those new leads because we’ve been there, too. By partnering with us, we will help you fulfill your passion as a business owner, grow your business, and solve problems (whatever those are – 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.
Always Have a Clear Call to Action
Notice that both of these modules have actions associated with them, and that’s the game changer. There are so many websites that lack a clear call to action: the desired next step. There are going to be people who are early in the buying process, and the next step may be to download an eBook or sign up for more information. Still, there may be somebody who’s further along, and their call to action is to “buy now.“
Don’t be afraid to ask, and ask often. Most of the time, when you ask early, people will ignore it but 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 tell it in a compelling way, you’re able to walk with people on their journey.
Here’s the power of digital storytelling. A lot of people believe that they only need to check off their boxes by writing a lot of content, and people will come. That’s not how it works. The brands that make a difference by engaging with people online are the ones that create an empathetic connection.
Empathy means 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. Here’s how I can empower you to do the same thing.” We walk this journey with them in the story, and that’s what draws them in to create a real connection.
I think a lot of time, marketing is seen as a way to manipulate customers. Well, if you manipulate somebody, and they buy from you, immediately they’re going to have buyer’s remorse, and they may not stay committed to you. However, if you empathize with your client and create a real connection, you’re going to have a customer that believes in you, your product, and your service and wants to continue to do business with you. It’s not because you’re nice to them or that thing they 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, but it’s also going to help you improve the context of your website, how it performs in search, and the engagement you get on your different social channels. Story plays a role in 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.
Look up the Duarte persuasive model online. Google StoryBrand, watch some videos and get acquainted with it. Spend some time to 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.