In this article, I will go over the importance of storytelling as it relates to brand development. Also, I will teach you how to create your very own eCommerce “StoryBrand.” Donald Miller pioneered the term StoryBranding in his book, Building a StoryBrand. I highly recommend it for further study on what is truly an immensely important topic!
Who is the Main Character of your story?
Human beings have always been captivated by great stories. If you want to captivate your audience of potential customers and sell them your products and services, you need to tell great stories.
The mistake made by most brands is that they make their business the main character (or “Hero”) of their story.
I hate to break this to you, but the bottom line is your customer doesn’t really care about your business. They care about solving the problems they are facing and achieving their goals. Too many companies spend hours drafting up a detailed Company Vision and “About Us” sections on the homepage of their website. What a shame that nobody reads it!
The more you talk about yourself, your company, and why you’re awesome…the less your prospects care and the more they yawn. Check out your posts, social profiles, websites, and landing pages. Who is the focal point of the story you are telling there?
Switch Your Story Up
Conversely, with the StoryBrand framework, the CUSTOMER is the hero of the story.
Now, think about your favorite books and movies. Each and every hero has a goal. Every hero runs into problems as they try to achieve it. And every hero needs some assistance from a GUIDE to help them overcome those problems.
THAT’S where you come in.
In all of your marketing materials, position the customer as the hero of the story and your business as their guide. Direct them to avoid obstacles, solve problems, and achieve their goals through your products and services.
Then you will have created a compelling StoryBrand.
How to Create a StoryBrand
In his book, Miller provides an extensive brainstorming exercise for drafting your own Storybrand. I recommend you complete this prior to launching any eCommerce business!
The brainstorming exercise deconstructs what Miller describes as the basic structure of all stories. He has distilled this basic story structure down to a single sentence:
A CHARACTER has a PROBLEM and meets a GUIDE who gives them a PLAN and calls them to ACTION that helps them avoid FAILURE and ends in SUCCESS.
Think about the last movie you saw. I bet it fits into the basic story structure. Anyways, let’s break it down and start brainstorming.
I’m a bit nervous to do this, but in this post I will also “open up the hood.” In each section below in red text, I have included the StoryBrand we created for our website, The eComm Boardroom!
It starts with a character – the main character. As already mentioned, this is your customer, not you. The first step in brainstorming is to ask:
- Who is my customer? If you have not already answered this, go back to this article.
- What do they want? Start by brainstorming the many material and immaterial things they want. Then, identify a singular desire that is the most important to their survival and success.
Identifying a singular key desire helps to open up what Miller calls a Story Gap. A Story Gap is the difference between who the customer is now and who they will be once they achieve their goals.
eComm Boardroom Example:
- Who is the customer: Individuals that are interested in starting an eCommerce business.
- What do they want: To develop a reliable, efficient stream of income that they can manage from anywhere in the world.
Has a Problem
After you’ve identified the hero and their singular desire, the next step is to identify the problems they face. For this step, you need to brainstorm:
- The Villain: the villain gives the conflict a single point of focus. Who or what is to blame for the customer not achieving their desire?
- External Problems: what are the material problems the customer faces?
- Internal Problems: What are the internal frustrations that your customer experiences because of the villain? These are key because they are the root cause of any customer making a purchase.
- Philosophical Problems: What is the bigger story underneath the customer’s problems? These problems typically use language like “ought” and “should”. For example, “bad guys shouldn’t win,” is a typical philosophical problem.
You will position your products and services as weapons to defeat the villain and solve the external, internal, and philosophical problems that your customers face.
Remember: customers tend to buy products that solve their internal problems above all else, so pay special attention to these.
eComm Boardroom Example:
- Villain: An overabundance of deceitful Online “Gurus” and information overload.
- Exterior: Want to start a profitable business.
- Interior: Frustrated by uncertainty about what products to sell and what the first steps are to getting started.
- Philosophical: It’s not right that the “Gurus” promise outlandish unattainable results and make far more money than their students.
And Meets a Guide
Next, your brand finally makes an appearance. Faced with these various problems, the hero needs help. If they didn’t need help, they wouldn’t be in trouble in the first place. There would be no story to tell.
For this step, brainstorm how you, the guide, can demonstrate:
- Empathy: your customer must feel that you understand and care about their internal problems, otherwise they won’t trust you.
- Authority: What testimonials, statistics, awards, or customer success stories can you present to your hero? This will demonstrate social proof and position you as a competent guide who can truly solve their problems.
See how both of these establish your brand as a trusted partner?
eComm Boardroom Example
- Empathy: I get it. I was in your shoes not too long ago. Frustrated with indecision and information overload, I thought I would never be able to start a successful eCommerce business. I nearly gave up.
- Authority: I have developed three 5-figure eCommerce brands, helped several entrepreneurs develop successful businesses, and was able to quit my day job to focus on growing my eCommerce business.
Who Gives Them a Plan
After you’ve built trust with your customer through empathy and authority, the next step is to provide a plan for them to overcome their problems and defeat the villain.
- The Process Plan: Clarify how someone can do business with you. It sounds obvious, but it is critical to make it as easy as possible for a prospect to become a customer. Identify the steps they need to take to do so.
- The Post Purchase Plan: How can the customer successfully use their product after they’ve bought it? What instructional PDFs, help videos, and customer support do you offer?
- The Agreement Plan: What steps have you taken to alleviate any fears your customer would have about going into business with you? For example, is there a 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee? Do you offer full refunds with return labels?
These plans serve to make it as easy as possible for customers to work with you and to overcome any logistical confusion as an obstacle to doing business with your brand.
eComm Boardroom Example
- The Process Plan: We have a mountain of free resources available that cut through the noise and teach aspiring entrepreneurs to start their business. If you need additional help, you can buy our eBooks or sign up for personalized consulting services.
- The Post Purchase Plan: Our eBooks are immensely thorough and come with step-by-step instructions for how to start an eCommerce business. Our personalized consulting services include daily VIP email support, strategy calls, and free tools & resources.
- The Agreement Plan: All of our products come with a 30 day money-back guarantee.
And Calls Them to Action
Next, we ask our customer to actually do something. A plan is great. However, unless you have a clear Call-To-Action, no action will be taken by your customer! As a result, we will now brainstorm:
- Direct Calls to Action: Think “Buy Now”, “Shop”, “Book Appointment” etc. This language should be repeated frequently and be displayed prominently on your website and marketing materials.
- Transitional Calls to Action: This is essentially another term for a “lead magnet.” Offer a free, valuable piece of content to your customer in exchange for their email address in order to establish expertise, create reciprocity, and position your brand as the guide. What transitional calls to action can you implement?
eComm Boardroom Example
- Direct CTAs: Browse our eBook Library. Buy our courses and Consulting Services.
- Indirect CTAs: Read our blog to learn the business models. Sign up for our newsletter for VIP Tips. Download from our free resource library.
That Helps Them Avoid Failure
In addition to calling them to action, our plan must specifically help the hero to avoid failure. Consequently, we ask: What is at stake for your hero? People are generally more motivated by loss aversion than by the potential to gain something. For this reason, you must arouse your customers’ sense of fear (but, not too much, else you risk alienating yourself).
- What does your customer stand to lose if they don’t do business with you?
- What does your product help them to avoid?
eComm Boardroom Example
- Our customers stand to lose: Foundational knowledge and expert advice that will help get their business off to the right start and positioned to grow.
- We help them avoid: Information overload, confusion, inaction, indecision, treading water, stagnation, and business failure.
And Ends in Success
Finally, in this section, we depict your customers’ transformation that occurs as a result of your products and services.
- How do your products resolve your customers’ external, internal, and philosophical problems?
- How do your products lead to the following for your customers:
- Increased status
- Self-Realization / Fulfillment / Self-Acceptance
- Transcendence (participation in something bigger)
- Transformation (who does your customer want to become?)
eComm Boardroom Example
- We help customers avoid the overwhelming misinformation peddled by expensive online Gurus’ masterclasses. We help them start profitable eCommerce businesses by teaching them the tested, proven business models that just plain work.
- Our products lead to the following for our customers:
- Increased Status: Our customers create strong, reliable income streams and can work from anywhere in the world.
- Self-Realization / Fulfillment / Self Acceptance: Our customers gain a sense of fulfillment from being their own boss. They are self-sufficient and provide for themselves and their families through something that THEY built.
- Transcendence: Our customers join a community of small business owners that understand and support one another.
- Transformation: Our customers are empowered and wise individuals with a high level of business acumen. They are decisive and can spot a bad deal a mile away. They swiftly and effectively plan and execute eCommerce product launches using the best business models on the planet. Through grit, determination, and a commitment to data-driven methods, they transform their own lives by BECOMING entrepreneurs.
StoryBrand, Created: Wrap it Up Chuck
This exercise is sure to help you understand your prospects better and give you a powerful tool to convert them into customers. Drafting a StoryBrand is one of the first steps I take anytime I start a new venture!
The language from your brand story should make its way onto:
- Your website
- Advertising copy
- Blog posts
- Social Media
- And just about every customer facing piece of content that you produce
So start StoryBranding today!