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The Storybrand 7 (SB7) framework

In the last post on “Building a Story Brand – Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen,” I shared that most businesses fail to distinguish themselves as guides. They make the mistake of posing as heroes and turn away the potential heroes they are trying to help.

In this post I’d like to outline the seven steps in the Storybrand 7 framework. Donald Miller suggest using this guide to steer your heroes through their path to greatness. After I list out the seven steps in the Storybrand 7 framework, I’ll go into further details regarding each step.

Here’s the SB7 framework:

  1. A character – The customer is the hero.
  2. Has a problem – Successful companies attend to their inner frustrations.
  3. And meets a guide – The customers are looking for a guide.
  4. Who has a plan – Customers trust a guide who has a plan.
  5. And calls them to action – Customers are challenged to take action.
  6. That helps them avoid failure – Everyone is trying to avoid a tragic ending.
  7. And ends in a success – This principle shows people how the product can positively influence their lives.

Now that we have the 7 steps listed out, let’s dig in and go deeper.

A character

“Nobody will listen to you if your message isn’t clear, no matter how expensive your marketing material may be.” – Donald Miller

You need to identify and be clear about who you are attempting to help. Targeting everyone is like targeting no one. What kind of change do you want to affect? You need to strictly define who you are helping.

Has a problem

“The only reason our customers buy from us is because the external problems we solve are frustrating them in some way. If we can identify that frustration, put it into words, and offer to resolve it along with the original external problem, something special happens. We bond with our customers because we’ve positioned ourselves more deeply into their narrative.” – Donald Miller

If you can’t define the problem the user if facing, how will you know you’ve been effective. The first step in helping is clarifying the problem the hero is facing.

And meets a guide

“The guide doesn’t have to be perfect, but the guide needs to have serious experience helping other heroes win the day.” – Donald Miller

A helpful guide has been through the same problems the hero has faced. He offers advice and wisdom. All advice is hindsight. Guides share what they would have done differently, had they known better at the time.

Who has a plan

“The key to the success of any plan is to alleviate confusion for our customers. What steps do they need to take to do business with you? Spell out those steps, and it’ll be as though you’ve paved a sidewalk through a field. More people will cross the field.” – Donald Miller

Make sure you make the hero know why you are suggested the path you are suggesting. If they don’t agree with the trajectory you’re sending them on with this plan, go back to step 2 and redefine the problem until the hero agrees on the trajectory of the solution.

And calls them to action

“People are drawn to clarity and away from confusion. Having clear calls to action means customers aren’t confused about the actions they need to take to do business with you.” – Donald Miller

Nothing happens unless you act on your plan. A guide may motivate the hero but they can’t force him/her to act. As the saying goes, “Leap and the net will appear.”

That helps them avoid failure

“Brands that don’t warn their customers about what could happen if they don’t buy their products fail to answer the so what questions every customer is secretly asking.” – Donald Miller

Knowing what could happen if no action is taken is required to motivate the hero to act on the plan you’ve collaboratively set up.

And ends in a success

“People are drawn to transformation. When they see transformation in others, they want it for themselves. The more we feature the transformative-journey our customers have experienced, the faster our business will grow.” – Donald Miller

I hope that the Storybrand 7 framework clarifies the explicit steps you must take to guide your heroes through their inevitable journey. Contact me if you have any questions.

A brand that positions itself as the hero is destined to lose

In “Building a Story Brand – Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen,” Donald Miller shares the very important, but easy to miss, distinction between heroes and guides. I’ll start off by sharing a story about a company that positioned itself as the hero and failed. Then I’ll talk about how customers are turned off by brands that position themselves as the hero and why. Then I’ll finish by sharing how you can position yourself as a guide instead of a hero.

On March 30, 2015, Jay Z launched the streaming music service Tidal. Tidal differentiated itself from Spotify by stating that the musicians gained a larger share of the revenue from plays on the service. Music super stars Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Deadmau5, Kanye West, Jason Aldean, Jack White, Daft Punk, Beyonce and Win Butler joined Jay Z at the press event to announce the service.

At the press conference Jay Z said,

“People are not respecting the music, and devaluing what it really means. People really feel like music is free, but will pay $6 for water. You can drink water free out of the tap and it’s good water. But they’re okay paying for it. It’s just the mindset right now.” – Jay Z

So what happened?

“The crucial mistake: Jay Z failed to answer the one question lingering in the subconscious of every hero customer. How are you helping me win the day? Tidal existed to help the artist win the day, not customers. And so it failed.” – Donald Miller

Making a fine point even finer, Miller states:

“Customers don’t generally care about your story; they care about their own.” – Donald Miller

He goes on to say,

“When we position our customer as the hero and ourselves as the guide, we will be recognized as a trusted resource to help them overcome their challenges.” – Donald Miller

Are you positioning your company or service as the hero? Cut it out. Instead, position yourself as the guide.

“When giving a speech, position yourself as Yoda and your audience as Luke Skywalker. It’s a small but powerful shift that honors the journey of the audience and positions us as a leader providing wisdom, products, and services our audience needs in order to thrive.” – Donald Miller

Why is it so bad to position yourself as the hero? Why do people react so poorly to it? Maybe they see your message as humble bragging? Maybe it turns people off.

“When a brand comes along and positions itself as the hero, customers remain distant. They hear us talking about how great our business is and start wondering if we’re competing with them for scarce resources. Their subconscious thought pattern goes like this: This is another hero, like me. I wish I had more time to hear their story, but right now I’m busy looking for a guide.” – Donald Miller

So how do you position yourself as the guide rather than a hero? Stop tooting your own horn! Instead of talking about how great a company, person, or hero you are, talk about how much your guidance has helped and aided the fights of other heroes. Showcase your successes as a guide and leave the ego medals at home.

“A brand that positions itself as the hero is destined to lose.” – Donald Miller

In the next post I’ll discuss how important stories are to win customers. Contact me if you have any questions.