Did you know that an estimated 90% of new startups fail and that 34% of them close within their first year? 

There are plenty of reasons why this happens, from poor cash flow to a lack of organization. But one of the less obvious and more costly reasons is utilizing marketing that doesn’t connect with your customers. You can have a great product or service, an obvious opportunity and still be wasting money on customers that simply don’t appear.

So how do you fix this? Try leveraging the StoryBrand Framework.

What is the StoryBrand Framework?

The StoryBrand Framework is made up of 7 core principles, that serve as steps to help you clarify your message and visualize the position of your customers

In many ways, it serves as a refined version of what you did when developing your business. Defining an opportunity, what problem you solve, and turning it into an actionable plan. The main difference is that the last few steps focus on how you turn those core concepts into messaging that resonates with your customers. 

Why use the StoryBrand Framework?

Clarity and information overload can’t co-exist. According to Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand: “When you confuse, you lose.” You may have a great team, product, and resources, but without clarity in your message, you won’t attract customers.

Customers already have too many decisions. So if they have a hard time figuring out why they should do business with your brand, they’ll just move on. In reality, most people don’t buy the best products, they buy the ones they understand the clearest. This is where the StoryBrand Framework can help.

“The brand that communicates the simplest is going to win,” Miller says. “If you confuse, you’ll lose. We can’t afford to confuse people. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we clarify our message, customers will listen.” And the StoryBrand framework helps you do just that. It makes you simplify your brand messaging and optimize your communications. 

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How to apply the StoryBrand Framework to your business

Let’s get down to business and actually help you leverage the StoryBrand Framework. To get the most out of this guide, go ahead and download and print the StoryBrand Brandscript template here or use the free digital sheet at Mystorybrand.com. Read through each one of the 7 principles below, then do the action item on your worksheet. 

1. Define what your customer wants

The first principle is to know what your customer wants and to be clear about the problem your company best solves.  

For example, a typical digital marketing agency:

“Innovation and collaboration to achieve the incredible.”

This means nothing. Too vague.

The correct way to communicate:

“We build custom websites that grow your business.”

In this scenario, the customer doesn’t know what innovation and collaboration to achieve the incredible means, but they’ll know that they want a business that helps grow their business.

Your company needs to be known for providing something to what a customer wants. This has to be defined so you can agitate their desire and invite them into a story that tells them why they need your product or service.

Your turn: What does your customer want as it relates to what you offer?

Example:

An example of clear customer need

Why it works: you know it’s a coffee subscription for great tasting coffee at home.

2. Identify customers’ problems

If there’s a story without a problem, there’s no story.

To keep customers engaged, it’s pivotal to be clear about the problems faced by your customers. And this should always be clearly discussed and addressed in the message.

For this reason, you need to talk about your customers’ problems. Here are a few examples from our marketing agency:

  • Is your marketing consumable to your customers?
  • Are you spending hundreds on Facebook ads with no return?
  • Do you struggle to communicate what you do?
  • Have you spent thousands of dollars on a new website with few sales?
  • Your competitors outrank you on Google 

Your turn: What is getting in the way of your customers getting what they want? 

Example: 

Example of clear guiding principle for the customer

Why this works: The problem opens the story to the cost of bad marketing getting in your way of growing your business. 

3. Be the help they seek

Now that you have hooked your customer by agitating their problem that is keeping them from getting what they want, they might be feeling hopeless. 

This is where your brand comes in, to help the hero (customer) win the day. For this reason, your brand should never play the hero of the story but always play the guide. 

How do you do this? 

You first establish empathy as the guide. You make an empathetic statement that speaks back to the problem and frustration your customer is facing. 

Your turn: Finish this sentence “We know what it feels like to [your customer’s problem here].

Part two is establishing authority as a guide. Think of social proof, like testimonials. 

Great brands understand that not every testimonial is worth the same. To get great testimonials from your customers, use some of these questions:

  • What was your biggest challenge before using our service/product?
  • How did this problem make you feel?
  • What changed after purchasing/using our products/services?
  • What specific results did you experience? 

Example:

Example of clear customer stories and social proof

Why this works: Authority is established through social proof of over 850,000 small business owners, including logos of successful businesses.

4. Develop an easy, well laid-out plan

The 4th principle is an easy to understand plan for your customers.

What steps does your customer need to take to overcome their conflict and experience success? You don’t need to make this complicated but simply show in 3 to 4 steps—but no more— the steps your customer has to take to experience success using your services.

Your turn: Create your process plan in three steps. 

Example:

Make the steps to get it done easy and simple

Why this works: Clear steps on how to register for the workshop and get clarity with your messaging

5. Call to action

Call to action is probably the most overlooked (and yet one of the most important) aspect of a clear website. It is a place where you tell the customers that you want to do business with them. 

A prominent call to action on a website can be the difference in customer conversion. For example, “Buy Now”, “Schedule a Call”, or “Get Started” (note: Learn more is not an inviting call to action).

Your turn: Review your website, do you have a simple, obvious invitation for your customers to do business with you? 

Example:

A clear call to action is key to get customers to execute on your offer

Why this works: Active language to propel you to get started using their product. It feels simple and clear.

6. Identify and explain what’s at stake

If your customer doesn’t engage, what are they doomed for? 

This Storybrand Framework principle explains the importance of explaining to your customers what may happen if the problem isn’t addressed. It is your responsibility to highlight what’s at stake. 

Your turn: One way to touch on failure is to ask questions that prompt your customer to realize what they’re missing/how they’re feeling. For example:

Example:

Make sure they know what is at stake

Why this works: An empathetic statement coupled with the business frustration sales managers tend to experience with their sales process. 

7. Envision success

What does your customer’s life look like after having engaged with your brand?

You have agitated the problem, now you need to help them imagine success. Your customer wants to know what their life can look if they use your products or services. 

You can help them visualize this in two ways:

  1. Through your web copy: See our Basecamp example of before and after scenario
  2. Images on your site: smiley, happy people enjoying your products or services.

Example:

Make sure customers can visualize success

Why this works: You want a tool like Basecamp if you are experiencing a problem. But you want to know what success will look like. Great copy of before and after.

Final thoughts

Giving life and sustaining a startup to success is a grueling uphill battle. But businesses who clarify their message, position themselves to win more customers and grow their business

The Storybrand Framework is a simple, yet powerful tool to help you gain clarity with your messaging so that the customers you communicate with listen and take action to do business with your brand. Work through the framework and start telling your brand story today.

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AvatarMoses Mehraban

Moses Mehraban is a StoryBrand Certified Guide who helps businesses clarify their message and create a marketing plan that grows their revenue. If you have any questions about this process, you can schedule a free consultation.