StoryBrand: 7 Steps to an Effective Marketing Strategy

marketing strategy

Everyone loves a good story. It’s simply human nature to crave a strong, clear, focused narrative.

To create good marketing, you need to tell a story with your brand that compels customers to buy from you.

When writing your brand’s story, clarity and coherence are key. People don’t necessarily buy the best products and services; they buy what they can quickly and easily understand.

The features of your product are largely unimportant. Many business leaders find this concept difficult to accept because we tend to grow attached to our products and want to tell people everything about them. What truly matters is how other people feel about your product.

For years, Bose advertised its noise-cancelling headphones with textbook-like multi-page magazine ads explaining in great detail the science behind their gadgets. Then Beats by Dre came along with a very similar product, but much simpler and more effective advertising.

Every commercial for Beats noise-canceling headphones tells a story in which a professional athlete uses them to tune out critics and opposing fans. The noise-canceling technology is only mentioned at the very end in text that appears for less than a second.

Beats surpassed Bose in sales almost immediately. The emotionally driven stories their commercials tell are far more effective than any amount of technical jargon or factual analysis.

The StoryBrand program provides an efficient, proven method to develop a story that will guide your marketing strategy. This method is called the BrandScript.

A good marketing campaign follows this simple seven-step formula:

  1. A character
  2. with a problem
  3. meets a guide
  4. who gives them a plan
  5. and calls them to action
  6. avoiding failure
  7. resulting in success.

Understanding each of these steps will help you to perfect your marketing.

1. A Character

The first element of your story will be a character – the hero of the story. The hero should be the customer.

Before you can develop this character, however, you need to know who your average customer is. You need to identify your primary target demographic. It’s very important to know everything you can find out about these people.

Some of the things you need to know about your target demographic include:

  • Age
  • Income level
  • Marriage status
  • Whether or not they have children

It can also be very helpful to know about their political and religious affiliations, but these are usually much harder to find out. If you have the marketing budget, hiring a third party company to do objective market research can be extremely valuable.

Once you have figured out who you are selling to, you can begin to form your marketing strategy.

However, you should never stop analyzing your customer base and adjusting your BrandScript to suit it. You need to listen to customer feedback to make sure that the way you are trying to market your brand matches up with the way people perceive your brand. Read any emails or other messages you receive from customers and monitor mentions of your brand on social media.

The hero of your advertising campaign does not always have to be exactly representative of your target demographic, but they do have to appeal to that demographic. The average Beats by Dre customer is not a professional athlete, but they do look up to their favorite football and basketball players, so seeing those athletes in a commercial makes them want to buy the product.

The most important thing to remember about the character aspect of the BrandScript is that your marketing needs to make the customer think that by using your product, they will become the hero of their own story.

2. With a Problem

There are three types of problems that your character will face:

  • External
  • Internal
  • Philosophical

The external problem is the obvious, tangible problem the character faces. In a Beats commercial, the external problem is that the character is being forced to listen to boos and jeers from opposing fans or criticism from TV commentators.

The internal problem is the character’s emotional reaction to the external problem. The internal problem in the Beats commercial is that the athlete is upset by what they are hearing.

It may seem like the philosophical problem should be very similar to the internal, but they are actually very different. The philosophical problem relates to issues of right and wrong and what should be. The athlete should be able to listen to what they want to, and it is wrong for them to have to listen to insults and criticism.

If your business is a financial consulting firm, the external problem your customers face is that they are unsure what they should do with their money. Their internal problem is that they are frustrated by the complexity of personal finance, afraid that they will not manage their money right, and feeling incompetent because they don’t know what to do. The philosophical problem in this situation is that it shouldn’t be so hard to figure out how to manage your finances.

3. Meets a Guide

This step is where your business comes in. You need to convey to customers that your company will serve as a guide to help them solve their problems. As a guide, your business has two responsibilities:

  • Express empathy for your customer.
  • Establish authority in your area of expertise.

You must reassure them that the problems they are facing are understandable and normal. You need to express empathy for your customer to make sure that they do not feel inadequate or incompetent. If they feel that way, you can be almost certain that they will not do business with you.

Establishing your brand as an authority gives your customer confidence that you know what you’re doing.  If they do not see you as an authority, they have no reason to trust you.

How you establish authority will depend largely on what your company does. If you are a financial advisor, you might establish authority by explaining your educational background and experience in finance. If you run a car company, you might do so by listing any awards you have won. In every Chevrolet commercial, they mention the J.D. Power customer satisfaction awards they’ve won.

Two methods that work for almost every business are asserting experience in the field and citing customer testimonials. People will automatically associate experience with expertise, meaning that some companies can gain a customer’s trust simply by stating how long they’ve been around. People are also more likely to trust fellow customers than marketing professionals, so letting them know how others have been satisfied with your company will help spur their confidence in you.

4. Who Gives Them a Plan

Once you have established that you can help the customer with their problem, you have to show them how you will do so. You need to give your customer a plan.

There are two kinds of plans you should give your customer. The first of these is the process plan.

A process plan defines the steps your customer needs to take. The best way to structure your process plan is to have it consist of three steps. These three steps should end with a clear success.

Remember when designing this plan that the human mind is drawn to simplicity. The plan does not have to explain the entire process. It simply has to give a brief overview to reassure the customer that you do, in fact, know what to do.

A financial advisor’s process plan might look like this:

  1. Schedule a meeting.
  2. Have a listening session to learn about your financial situation and goals.
  3. Receive your personal financial strategy.

To create a process plan, you should not have to change anything your company is doing. Simply examine the steps you are already taking with your customers and refine your explanation of them into a clear and concise plan.

The second type of plan is an agreement plan. An agreement plan is a list of agreements or commitments you make with your customer. An agreement plan is not absolutely necessary in the way that a process plan is, but it is very helpful nonetheless.

An agreement plan should seek to alleviate any fears a customer might have about doing business with you. A good agreement plan promises to do things like:

  • Sell a quality product at a reasonable price.
  • Provide friendly, helpful customer service.
  • Respect the customer’s time and privacy.
  • Never take advantage of the customer.

5. And Calls Them to Action

The most important element of marketing is the call to action.

In the relationship between your brand and a customer, you are expected to make the first move. If you don’t ask people to purchase from you, they probably won’t.

There are two types of calls to action: direct and transitional. A direct call to action asks the customer to purchase immediately. The most common direct call to action is “buy now.”

Most companies should have direct calls to action frequently appearing throughout their marketing material.

One of the most important places to feature a direct call to action is the top right corner of your website. People’s eyes are drawn to this area, so it should be kept uncluttered except for a clear, strong, direct call to action.

The only exceptions to these rules are companies with complicated products and lengthy onboarding processes. These companies may be better off with transitional calls to action throughout their marketing material and in the upper right-hand corner of their website.

Transitional calls to action give the customer an opportunity to go deeper and learn more about your brand. The best way to do this is with a free offer of information.

By giving your customer something for free, you will improve their opinion of your brand. A transitional call to action creates reciprocity and builds trust.

The ultimate goal of a transitional call to action is to make the customer more receptive to a direct call. Your website should be structured so that a transitional call or series of transitional calls leads to a direct call. Furthermore, if the customer declines a direct call, they should be redirected to a transitional call and eventually to another direct call.

You should use transitional calls to action on your website to help you collect email addresses. Email is by far the most common form of digital communication, so it is the best way to make a sale online.

6. Avoiding Failure

You should also tell people what will happen if they do not buy your product or service. Be very careful with this element and use it sparsely, as too much of it will make you sound manipulative.

This negative aspect is often most effective when partially left to the imagination. You can frequently see this in insurance commercials that depict some sort of disaster happening and the insurance company stepping in to help. The audience is left to imagine how badly things would have gone if the characters in the commercial did not have this insurance.

7. Resulting in Success

More important than showing a customer the negative consequences of not buying from you is showing them the success that will result if they do purchase your product.

In your marketing, use images of customers who have had a positive experience with your brand. Show happy people.

This step is extremely important, as the entire reason customers are interested your brand in the first place is that they have a problem to solve. You need to show them that you will help them solve their problem.

Your marketing needs to suggest to customers that good things will happen to them if they purchase your product. Remember, they want to be the hero, and they want to win.

An agreement plan should seek to alleviate any fears a customer might have about doing business with you. The BrandScript consists of seven elements:

  • A Character
  • With a Problem
  • Meets a Guide
  • Who Gives Them a Plan
  • That Calls Them to Action
  • Avoiding Failure
  • Resulting in Success

If you follow this formula, your marketing will be exciting and dynamic, and your business will attract more customers.

To learn more about StoryBrand, visit their website:

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StoryBrand: 7 Steps to an Effective Marketing Strategy
When writing your brand’s story, clarity and coherence are key. Keep reading to learn 7 steps to an Effective Marketing Strategy.

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