Building a Story Brand – by Donald Miller
Date read: 4/25/19. Recommendation: 8/10.
I avoided this book for a long time, despite numerous recommendations, out of an aversion to marketing and branding. But I’m glad I finally read it. The heart of the book is about clarifying and simplifying your message. Miller presents his strategy in a seven-point framework which forms that foundation of all great stories. Whether an artist or entrepreneur, it’s a great resource to help you improve your communication. I’ve already used the framework to overhaul my own website and improve my messaging in the products I’m building at work. You’ll get the most value out of this book if you follow (and actually complete) the exercises, chapter by chapter.
See my notes below or Amazon for details and reviews.
Two biggest mistakes in marketing:
-Failure to focus on aspects of product that help people survive/thrive.
-Requires too much energy from customer to understand what’s in it for them.
“Story is the greatest weapon we have to combat noise, because it organizes information in such a way that people are compelled to listen.”
The best products don’t always win. The best communicators do.
Say less and communicate clearly, otherwise customers will give up trying to organize and make sense of all the data.
Steve Jobs learned this through his experience with Pixar. In 1983, Apple launched their computer Lisa and took out a nine-page ad in the New York Times. When he returned to the company, took two words and put them on a billboard: “Think Different.”
Seven major elements, make up the SB7 framework:
Character, Problem, Guide, Plan, Call to Action, Avoid Failure, Success.
Three questions you need to answer to drive engagement:
-What do you offer? How will it make my life better? What do I need to do to buy it?
Above the fold: Promise an aspirational identity, promise to solve a problem, state exactly what you do.
Similar to: What is this? What’s in it for me? What do I do next?
1) A Character:
The customer is the hero, not you. What do they want?
Define something they want and open up a gap.
Make it about survival.
Make it a single focus.
2) Has a Problem:
Villain should be root source, relatable, singular, and real.
Three dimensions: external problems, internal problems, philosophical problems.
6) And Calls Them to Action
Major life decisions aren’t made until you’re challenged to do so. Must be challenged by outside forces.
Be bolder in calls to action. If they’re soft, they’ll be ignored.
If you don’t clearly invite customers to take a journey with you, they won’t.
People are drawn to clarity. Have clear calls to action so they know what they need to do next.
Transitional calls to action are different. Instead of “buy now” they allow you to establish credibility, create reciprocity, and position yourself as the guide (think free information, testimonial video, free trial period).
7) That Helps Them Avoid Failure
If we don’t bring up the negative stakes early and often, story will fall flat.
What are you helping your customer avoid? What does failure look like?
8) And Ends in Success
Be specific – JFK didn’t say he wanted to build a “highly competitive and productive space program,” he said “we’re going to put a man on the moon.”
Identity transformation: From, To (anxious, glum to carefree, radiant).