How We've Used StoryBrand
Figuring out how to talk to prospective clients via your website, your social media, and your blogs comes down to answering three simple questions:
- What does the person want?
- What’s getting in the way of them getting what they want?
- What will the person’s life look like and how will it improve if he or she gets what they want?
Granted, we are not marketing experts and I’ll preface the rest of this lesson by saying that again—we aren’t marketing experts. We are coaches that grew our roles into business owners and leaders and have done it pretty damn effectively. That being said, for the past few years we’ve used StoryBrand, and the three questions above that it asks, to create the messaging and dialogue to attract new members and educate current ones. It’s helped us write better, more focused blogs, it’s helped us improve our Instagram planning, and it’s even helped us curate and create better content for the actual Strength Faction curriculum.
In this lesson, I’m going to walk you through the StoryBrand framework and offer some commentary on what we’ve done to use it. This is to serve as an accompaniment to actually reading the book Building A Story Brand. They are the experts on this stuff, we’re just here to show you how we’ve used it.
It’s a Hero Story
We’re hardwired to hear, relate to, and use the information from stories. Until we took the steps to intellectualize education, stories were our source of learning to understand the world (or our closest approximation of understanding), to know where food was, to realize who, or what, was dangerous. StoryBrand is based on using storytelling’s time-tested framework to place a prospective customer in the center of a story about their life and overcoming the obstacles that are foiling their efforts to get what they want. A lot of our favorite movies and novels follow the hero’s journey framework…and that’s why we love them. They are in tune with a deep, ancient part of us. Our goal is to help our prospective clients put themselves in “the movie” see themselves as the hero and see a path to overcoming their obstacles and living a better life on the other side.
We enter into the frame as the guide. We are the Obi Wan to their Luke. A lot of folks, and us, admittedly in the past, make a huge mistake in managing this dynamic. The product, or the trainer, is cast as the hero or the savior that solves all of the prospective client’s problems. But people don’t want to see it that way. They want to see themselves doing something heroic and coming out greater on the other side. Our job is to introduce them to the skills and information that they’ll use to traverse the path and meet the better versions of themselves they’ve wanted to become. We do that with our coaching, and we have to communicate that with our messaging.
The StoryBrand Framework
To cast our prospective clients as the hero, and show them the path toward becoming greater versions of themselves, StoryBrand uses a seven-part framework.
- The Character
- Has a Problem
- Meets a Guide
- The Guide Gives Them a Plan
- And Calls Them to Action
- That Helps Them Avoid Failure
- And Ends in Success
Let’s walk through each part and I’ll give you an example of how we used it for our Strength Camp Sales page.
Figuring out who your character, or ideal client, is can be esoteric and hard to pull from the grips of abstraction. The easiest way we’ve found to do it is to simply look at the clients you best serve or ones that you most want to serve. We made a list of the clients that have had the best success for us—we did that for the gym and for Strength Faction—and we noted the similar characteristics.
The characteristics are seriously multi-dimensional, and it can seem difficult to nail them down, but you can sort them out. We looked at things like where people work, where they live, how far along they are in their careers, what they value, how much money they make, what their goals are, their family situation. When you consider all of those things in relation to your best, or most desired clients, you come up with demographics and psychographics.
Demographics are the stats that you can generalize about the population of folks you most want to work with.
Psychographics are the characteristics pertaining to values, attitudes, wants, needs, etc. that you can generalize about that population.
When you have that info, you can carve out a character that best fits into the story. And this story is written for each service or product that you provide—that way you’re doing your best to talk to the right people in the right way about the right service for them.
For example, we built our lunch-time strength program working to appeal to busy working folks with families that work in close proximity to our gym. Here’s the “sales page” and video we created based on that character:
Has a Problem
So, our character is a busy working person that has a family. What’s their problem? They don’t like the shape they’re in, and they know they need/want to work out, but they aren’t sure just how in the hell they’re going to find the time.
That’s the problem: they want to be in better shape, and feel better about their bodies and appearance, but they aren’t sure how they’re going to find the time to do it.
We figured out the problem for our character quite literally by considering life in Loudoun County Virginia. People have a million things going on and the people that work in the office buildings surrounding our gym all have serious careers, commitments, and families—for the most part. The common complaint has consistently been time, so that’s the obstacle we had to help them traverse.
Meets a Guide
That’s us! We created avenues for them to meet us by using our connections with HR departments and continually being active on social media and working to tell the story. Part of meeting the guide is introducing the plan, or the solution to the problem, so that they actually knew that we were the guide. The guide and the plan, in my eyes, can’t be totally separated.
The Guide Gives Them a Plan
The plan is the product. In this case, it’s our Strength Camp. It shows them how they can still work out without monopolizing their time so that they can improve their bodies, and their lives, without taking away from the other important aspects of their day-to-day.
We introduce them to the plan with an animated video that we had made. It’s on the page that I shared above, but here it is, again, so you can have a gander.
After the video, the copy immediately underneath it expands on the plan. It addresses the time problem, the results problem, and the concerns about doing things well and not getting hurt. That was a differentiator for us as well because we are surrounded by Orange Theory and other HIIT type gyms that turn and burn people without concern for movement quality. The people we attract are jaded by that kind of thing, so our plan reinsures that things don’t go down that way at BSP NOVA.
And Calls Them to Action
After the plan, we lay out some testimonials for social proof that the plan has actually helped people. Then we call them to action by showing them an easy, three-step process for getting started. They’ve been able to identify themselves as the character, see how our guidance and plan can solve their problem, observe that it’s helped other people, and now we give them a super simple path to get started.
That Helps Them Avoid Failure
This is them internalizing the plan. In the current case it’s, “If I do the 45-minute workouts at Strength Camp, I’ll avoid feeling like I’m not doing anything for my body and I’ll actually have the time to work out.”
They see a clear connection between the thing they want to avoid and the plan that will help them avoid it. There’s a lot of ways to play this out. It could simply be laying it out as we do in the video and on the page. But you could also bring that thing they want to avoid in again after the call to action and remind them that they don’t have to stay in the status quo—along with another reminder of how to get started.
That Ends in Success
The testimonials and social proof help send this message, but also delivering the plan in a way that folks can internalize it is important as well. That takes careful consideration of the character and the problem that they’re facing so you can talk about it in a way that’s meaningful to them.Testimonials demonstrate success from people like them have followed the plan and come out better on the other side.
Notes on What Could be Improved and Closing the Book… For Now
Since the time this lesson was originally written, we are actually no longer promoting this program through our website. And the reality is, this page isn’t as good as it could be and we could definitely tell the story better…
This is one example of how we’ve applied story brand to help potential members connect with our message. It considers the questions from the intro–What does the person want? What’s getting in the way of what them getting what they want? What will life look like after they get what they want? Pick a program that you run and use this lesson as a resource to try to develop your own page, social media campaign, or article to appeal to the people you’re trying to attract. Also, again, I recommend picking up the book. This lesson is just a simple example of how the information can be used.
And if you’d like to see our current marketing for the gym: