StoryBrand Framework: Complete Guide to a Clearer Message

storybrand framework

StoryBrand Framework is an effective tool used for enhancing your marketing strategy. The framework helps businesses streamline their message by utilizing story-based approaches which place the client at the center of their hero’s journey.

StoryBrand Framework: Complete Guide to a Clearer Message

Humans love a good story. Classic stories, from Homer’s Iliad to Star Wars to the Hunger Games and the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, follow the same formula — the hero’s journey.

Also called the Monomyth, this concept was first introduced by Joseph Campbell to describe the common stages of stories that appear in all cultures. The hero goes on a journey, faces various trails, and returns victorious.

We use stories to understand the world. They help us turn information into connected, memorable experiences. The information in stories has been used throughout history to help people survive by teaching them lessons about how to live in the world.

The StoryBrand framework taps into this time-honored way of sharing information and uses it to help clarify your message and improve your sales funnel and revenue streams.

As Building a Storybrand points out, pretty websites aren’t what sell your products or services. Words sell things. Adopting a framework that human beings have been using for millennia is a great way to increase customer engagement.

The human brain is hardwired to easily digest difficult concepts in story form. The StoryBrand framework helps your brand clarify your message by placing the customer at the center of the story.

Donald Miller, the author of Building a StoryBrand, presents a clear message in his book throughout his StoryBrand marketing workshop. You can use in your own business or brand to create a marketing message that has an impact.

Here’s how it works:
  1. A hero » that’s your customer.

  2. Has a problem » that you can solve.

  3. Meets a guide » that’s you!

  4. Who gives them a plan » achievable in 3 steps.

  5. And Calls them to Action » your primary CTA.

  6. That ends in Success » positive changes.

  7. And avoids Failure » negative consequences.

Why is messaging important?

No one is going to buy your product if they don’t understand what you’re selling. In B2B, people make buying decisions based on what they’re reading. But people skim because they’re super busy. But if your marketing material is too difficult to understand, you’ll confuse your prospects and they’ll go to your competitor.

Two critical mistakes that companies make in marketing their product or services are:

  • Failing to identify the parts of their product or service that help the customer survive and thrive

  • Causing their potential customers cognitive overload by asking them to burn too many calories in a bid to understand the service

Without a simple, clear message that addresses your customer’s problems or pain points, your company’s message won’t make an impact.

The goal behind StoryBrand is:

Eliminate any possible confusion: At its heart, StoryBrand is about crystal clear messaging. Customers are busy. They see thousands of marketing messages per day. Competition has never been stiffer,

Build a connection with customers: Too many businesses focus their brand marketing on what they do. They tell their brand story and list all the ways they are great. For example, we’re the cheapest, best, most ethical, the best value, etc.

The problem is that your customers don’t really listen when your talk about yourself. But, they’ll really perk up when your talk about them.

Grow your business: A clear message that puts your customer at the center of the story will help you grow your business, win more customers, and make more money. Donald Miller wanted the Storybrand approach to be a secret weapon for success for each brand.

tragic thing transforms hero

Character Transformation

Critical mistakes brands make is positioning themselves as the hero. Everyone is the hero in their own story. The only reason a customer will be interested in your brand is if you can help them solve a problem. Anything short of that, and you’re business is irrelevant to them.

So, make your customer, and not your brand, the hero.

But how does StoryBrand apply to B2B marketing?

Think about B2B marketing as a story with multiple heroes, like the Avengers. Each protagonist has their own concerns, but they are united by a clear common goal.

The challenge with B2B is identifying these common goals for each persona. The good news is your heroes can have overlapping goals and concerns. We recommend defining buyer personas and beginning your Brandscript with the end-user in mind – take a bottom-up approach.

If you’re a B2B SaaS company in the CRM space, don’t start with what the decision-maker wants. Start with the salespeople who are going to use the CRM. Salesforce and HubSpot both do an amazing job of positioning end-users of each product as a hero.

Examples of what a B2B Marketing hero wants:

  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud » “Grow relationships and revenue at the same speed — fast”

  • HubSpot Marketing Hub » “All your marketing tools and data — all under one roof”

Now, let’s use the StoryBrand Brandscript to see how you can relate the beats of the hero’s journey to your customer and your business.

From

Who is your customer at the start of the story? How do they feel about themselves? Perhaps they know their goals (save time, money, status) but they are frustrated because there are specific things that are getting in the way. For example, current solutions on the market are inadequate? Salesforce is hinting that you need to be fast to succeed and we agree 100%.

To

What will it mean for them to achieve their goal? Will they have more money to spend on the things they want? More time to see friends and family? A better standing in the community?

Identify your customer’s aspirational identity and position your product or service as the guide that helps them achieve this goal. Again, as StoryBrand makes clear, people buy products based on meeting emotional needs, even in B2B. This is why you need to know who’s in your buying circle to get stakeholder buy-in.

storybrand storyboard brand script template

The 7 Parts of a story

Follow this StoryBrand Brandscript to flesh out how your business communicates with your audience.

1

A Hero

That’s your customer. If you’re a B2B you are going to have several heroes, each buyer persona is a hero.

What do they want?

What do your customers want as it relates to your products or services?

Some of the most common things they want are to:

  • save money

  • save time

  • grow their business or network

  • increase their status

  • achieve their aims more quickly

2

Has a Problem

Villain

Is there a root cause of your hero’s problems? Can you personify this root cause as a villain? What is the villain in your hero’s story?

The villain in your customer’s story could be several things. It could be:

  • competing businesses with more resources

  • products that are too expensive or too complex,

  • processes that are too time-consuming

  • existing solutions that don’t help them achieve their business goals

Each villain or problem is composed of three separate parts.

External problems

What is a problem your customers deal with as it relates to your product or service?

An example of an external problem is the Time Thief. There is some business process they need to do, that takes a lot of time.

Internal problem

How is this villain making your customers feel?

Using the same example, having a lack of time makes them frustrated and annoyed. They have other crucial business tasks they need to do, and spending so much time on this one thing is hurting their productivity, revenues, and opportunities to spend time with friends and family.

Philosophical problem

Why is it “just plain wrong” for your customers to be burdened by this problem?

Again, can use the StoryBrand approach to speak to the reasons why the customer deserves better. For example, “processing business expenses shouldn’t take all day” or “You shouldn’t have to stay late at the office to get a specific task done”.

3

Meets a Guide

Here is where your brand comes in. You have a solution that can help your customer achieve their goal in a fraction of the time.

Empath

What brief statement can you make that expresses empathy and understanding?

Speak to your customer’s pain point of, for example, always feeling frustrated and pushed for time.

Authority

How can you demonstrate competency in solving your customer’s problem?

Tell them about your solution that automates expenses accounting, etc.

4

Who Gives Them a Plan

Process

What are the 3 steps your customer can take that would lead them to a sale or meeting about their product or service?

The process can be something as simple as:

  • signup for a trial account

  • connect it to your current software

  • let it automate your expenses, and save you lots of time

Agreement

List the agreements you can make with your customers to alleviate their fears of doing business with you.

Your agreement can be anything from a free trial, money-back guarantee, or any other assurance of service.

5

And Calls them to Action

Direct Call to Action

What is your direct call to action?

StoryBrand is about clarity. So be direct and spell out what your customer needs to do next. Great examples in B2B are:

  • Get a Demo
  • Let’s Talk
  • Free Trial
  • Get Started

Transitional Call to Action

What transitional calls to action will you use to on-ramp customers?

Not every customer will be ready to buy straight away. So include some transitional calls to action, like downloading a whitepaper, watching a webinar, joining a mailing list, or going to your website or blog.

  • Download Free Marketing Template
  • Free Template: Social Media Calendar » Download Now
6

That ends in Success

List the positive changes your customers will experience if they use your product or service.

For example, tell them how they’ll:

  • be able to have more time to do their other duties

  • be free to finish work on time

  • be able to spend more time on their hobbies

  • spend more quality time with their friends and family.

7

That helps them avoid Failure

List the negative consequences or tragic things your customers will experience if they don’t use your product or service.

All great stories have something at stake.

What’s a stake? if nothing is at stake then it’s a boring story. but fear is like salt, add too much and you’ll ruin it. I recommend illuminating the cost of inaction and not fear-mongering.

Apply StoryBrand to your Sales & Marketing Materials

After getting your messaging clear, you can then focus on these 5 items.

  1. One-Liner: Talk about the problem, give them the solution, and tell them how they’ll feel.

  2. Website: Again, your website copy should clearly state the problem and how your solution can change everything.

  3. Lead Generator: As we mentioned in the transitional call to action section, not every customer will convert immediately. So offer a valuable, relevant lead generator like an eBook or webinar so you can get your prospect’s email address.

  4. Nurture Campaign: Once you have your prospect’s email address you can send them information about your product or service that follows the Storybrand framework of placing the user as the hero and showing them how their life could look if they took action.

  5. Sales Campaign: Use the principles you’ve learned across your entire sales funnel to inform content and advertising.

we are not a storybrand certified agency

Conclusion

Understanding the Storybrand framework will help you:

  • improve your marketing materials

  • transform company culture

  • speak to your customer clearly

  • connect with prospects on a deeper level.

StoryBrand gives you a clear vision so that you can communicate your brand message in such a way that your audience really listens. In times of short attention spans and endless competition, that is a wonderful thing.

If you want to grow your business and connect with customers they need to be clear about what your brand offers. To grab their attention, you need to place them at the center of the story, with you as the helpful or wise guide that can help them achieve success and avoid failure.

When your message is clear, you’ll have a better website, better ads, and no confusion.

The key takes aways about using the Storybrand framework are:

  • Your customer is the hero: Make your talking points about your customer and their needs, and not about your brand.

  • A clear marketing message is essential: Your website and marketing need to focus on your customer’s problems and how you can help them.

  • Confusion is the enemy: Your customer is busy and inundated with offers and information. Make sure they know exactly what your offer is and how it can help transform their life or solve their problems.

Author
Bryan Philips
Bryan Philips
I'm the Head of Marketing at In Motion. My job is to help your marketing get more leads, sales, and revenue by being a superhero with words. I love to travel, hike and learn new things. As a tech enthusiast, I enjoy learning how to use new software as much as possible.

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