StoryBrand Guide: 3 Ways to Make Your Customer the Hero

StoryBrand Guide: 3 Ways to Make Your Customer the Hero

StoryBrand How-To: 3 Ways to Make Your Customer the Hero

man reading a guide to seo for storybrand websites on his phone

Most marketing doesn’t work.

It’s tragic, but it’s true. Most businesses don’t see the return on investment they’re hoping for.

One of the primary reasons for this is that these businesses — or the marketing teams they hired — think they’re the star of the show. They wrongly believe people are buying their products because of how amazing the company is.

So they launch ad campaigns that set the company as the hero coming to save the day.

And they lose millions.

The problem with this is that your customers aren’t living that story. They’re living their own story.

In your customer’s story, they’re the hero.

Think about your own life. You wake up and you have goals you want to accomplish, problems to solve, issues to fix. You live your story through your own eyes. You’re the main character.

The same is true in your customers’ lives.

When you talk about how great you and your company are and how difficult your journey has been or how you’re moving up in the world, they check out. That’s not the story they’re living so they have no reason to be interested.

Instead of competing with our customers for the role of hero, it is our responsibility to empower them to be the best hero they can be.

This is what sets great companies apart. They do not engage with their customers to see how much money they can make. Great companies know their primary responsibility is to help their customers win the day.

Check out how Beats by Dre illustrated this in a 2013 ad:

They could have talked about how cool their headphones are. They could have shown images of their headphones at all sorts of different angles and described the incredible noise-canceling technology. But they didn’t.

They simply showed you how you can “hear what you want.” You can drown out the haters and get motivated to conquer your challenges.

 

Help your customers win the day

In a story, the character that helps the hero win the day is called the Guide. This is Yoda and Obi-Wan in Star Wars. It’s Morpheus in The Matrix and in Black Panther and Thor it’s T’Challa and Thor’s fathers.

I believe it is the responsibility of leaders and brands to be Guides. It is our responsibility to help our customers win the day.

That’s where your products and services come in. They’re like Batman’s utility belt. It doesn’t make him a hero, it provides him with the tools he needs to win the day.

Your customers already know they are the heroes. They live every day as the main character of their life. You don’t have to tell them.

What they don’t know is if you know what they’re going through.

Every hero has a deep desire, something they want. But some problem is getting in their way. It’s preventing them from getting what they want.

That’s why they’re on your website. They’re looking for a solution. The quickest way to their heart is to tell them you know what they’re going through. You can do this in two ways.

Here are three strategies from a StoryBrand Guide you can use to help your customers feel like heroes. And, ultimately, grow your business.

RELATED: How to StoryBrand Your Website

1. Tell them you know what they want

Think about the life your customers will have after they use your product or services. That’s what they’re really after. Do you sell a drill? Help your customers imagine the things they can build. Do you sell a wasp killer? Help your customers see how safe their yard will be.

When people see that you understand their deepest desires—the reason they’re seeking a solution to their problem, the life they want to live—they connect with you and trust you to help them solve their problem.

 

2. Talk about the problem they’re experiencing

The only reason anyone comes to your website is that they’re looking for a solution to a problem.

Most companies don’t talk about the problem they solve. This leaves their customers without context and without a connection.

Solutions don’t simply exist. They exist to solve something. A solution without a problem isn’t a solution. It’s meaningless.

However, when you talk about the problem your product or service solves, it has context. And your customers bond with you. They say, “Wow! They know what I want! And they know what I’m going through! They understand my problem, so they must know how to solve it.”

When you talk about the problem your customers are living with (and looking for a solution to) they connect with you and trust you to solve their problem.

 

3. Tell them how you help them solve their problem, through their eyes

Every business has a sob story about how hard it was to get started or how many hours it took to design the perfect product.

Your customers don’t care about your story.

When it comes to you, your customers want to know if they can trust you. That’s it. Do they care about all the tears you cried developing your product? Nope.  It doesn’t matter to them.

What matters is this: can you solve their problem?

Most companies talk about their products as if it’s the customer’s job to solve the company’s problem—increased revenue. This kind of thinking leads to product descriptions that do nothing more than tell the customer how cool the company is.

We want to avoid that.

Change your mindset to change your marketing.

To begin, we need a different mindset. Your customers don’t come to you to help you solve your revenue problem. Instead, you offer a valuable solution to your customers that helps them solve their problem.

Your product descriptions should talk about your products as solutions to your customers’ problems. Here’s an example:

“Do you struggle to keep your breath smelling great throughout the day? Our all-natural mouthwash distributes enzymes throughout your mouth that eat bad-breath bacteria and keep your breath smelling great for 36 hours!”

See how the focus stays on the user? It tells them what they get rather than telling them how cool the product is. (FYI, I made this product up. I don’t know if this is possible, but it sounds good!)

Focus on what the user gets, not on what you provide.

It might feel like splitting hairs, but it’s an important distinction. When you tell your readers what they get, how it helps them solve their problem, and how it makes their life better, they buy more.

 

It is so easy to fall into the trap of marketing ourselves and our companies as the hero. After all, we live as the hero in our own story!

But when pull our head out of our story and consider the story our customers are living, we create an opportunity to build a relationship with them we would otherwise miss out on.

When we take on the role of the guide we are able to lift up our customers as heroes. And they welcome it! They feel supported and empowered to conquer the problems they’re experiencing. Which means they engage with you more and you grow your business.

To your success,

Ryan

 

 

Make more money with a website that sells

StoryBranding your website can be hard! That’s why we created this Ultimate Guide to Money-Making Websites. 

In this guide, you learn:

– 6 things every website should include
– the first thing your website should display
– 3 ways to boost your ranking on Google

Plus, gain confidence that you’re doing what you need to to create a website that makes you money.

 

Guide to SEO for StoryBrand Websites (2019 Update!)

Guide to SEO for StoryBrand Websites (2019 Update!)

Guide to SEO for StoryBrand Websites (2019 Update!)

Many business leaders are uncertain about SEO for StoryBrand websites. There is a lot of mystery around how to show up higher in Google searches and if the principles are the same for StoryBrand websites.

This uncertainty means these business leaders don’t do anything. They don’t know what they should do!

Today, I’m going to reveal the man behind the curtain. Just like with Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, what seems like magic really isn’t.

Here are 5 simple principles to boost SEO for StoryBrand websites. You can use these tips to make your site rank better on Google — and gain more visitors and more sales.

man reading a guide to seo for storybrand websites on his phone

1. Write For Humans

Many people (falsely) believe that their primary goal is to create content Google likes. All their content exists to help Google understand them so Google will boost their search ranking. This was true ten years ago, but not anymore.

Google gets smarter with every update to its search engine. It can tell what content is about even if it hasn’t been properly keyworded or optimized. And each new update is putting more and more value on the viewer’s experience.

Google’s main goal is to provide search results that its users want. When people are happy with the results Google provides, they use Google more, and Google can advertise to them.

Because of this, Google is putting more value on signs that users engage with the websites Google sends them to, such as average time on page and conversions. “SEO” is no longer about stuffing as many keywords into a website as you can. Google is smarter than that now.

While some amount of optimization helps Google understand your website, it does not replace the boost you’ll get when you create content that humans like. When you write compellingly (so the people Google sends to you engage and buy), Google notices and boosts your content.

StoryBrand is the best method to create a clear message. Many marketers provide theory and ideas but Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller and the StoryBrand Marketing Workshop teach you how to do it.

Writing clear, compelling content that increases average time on site and increases conversions has never been easier. Pick up your copy of Building a StoryBrand to clarify your message or head over to this article on how to StoryBrand your website.

(Disclaimer: The above links include affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage commission of your purchases. It doesn’t cost you any extra to use those links. If you’d prefer to not use my affiliate links, I won’t be mad. You do you!)

Your primary goal is to create engaging content for your website viewers — content that solves their problems and makes them want to buy from you. This is why I love SEO for StoryBrand websites. Nothing you do should sacrifice the experience you create for humans and StoryBrand makes sure you keep their experience front and center.

Use the following tips to optimize your great content so Google better understands it, but always prioritize humans over search engines.

 

2. On-Site SEO

This is the ground floor of your SEO for StoryBrand websites strategy (the foundation is the experience you create for humans). If your content isn’t optimized for Google to read and understand it, nothing else will work as well as it could.

Google’s primary goal is to help searchers find what they’re looking for. So it wants to put the best options at the top of the list. As a business, Google gets more users when its users are happy with the search results it shows. So that’s what it tries to do.

If Google doesn’t understand your website, it doesn’t know when to put it in search results. It doesn’t know which searchers are looking for what you offer.

As an aside, I’m not going to get into website code here. I’m assuming that if you’re reading this you’re using a website builder, like Squarespace or Divi with WordPress, not hand-coding your website.

Here are a few ways to help Google understand your website (and yes, these are necessary for SEO for StoryBrand Websites, too).

Title Tag

This is the first place Google and searchers look. It’s what shows up as your title in search results. Most website builders let you customize the title of your page. For your homepage, look in the general settings for something like, “Site Identity”. For other pages, it should be in the settings for that specific page. Here it is in WordPress:

title tag of blog post about seo for storybrand websites

You want it to be 70 characters or less and include your business name and one or two keywords that relate to that page.

But remember, it’s not only for Google. This is also what your searchers see. So don’t cram nonsensical terms in there just because you want to rank for them. When it comes to SEO for StoryBrand websites, your goal is to keep everything clear and simple so searchers want to click.

Meta Description

This is the small text that displays beneath your title and URL in search results. You can find it near the setting for your Title Tag.

Provide some extra information about what your site is about. There is some debate about how much meta descriptions help your ranking, but they definitely get seen by searchers. So make it clear and compelling.

Here’s what your meta description and Title Tag look like in search results:

google search results showing title tag and meta description

If you’re using WordPress you get an extra benefit: SEO plugins! There are plugins you can use, like All in One SEO, Platinum SEO, and SEO by Yoast that will help you add and optimize your title tags and meta descriptions. Some plugins also give you feedback on your content and provide other suggestions to help boost your SEO. My team installs Yoast on every website we build for clients.

Writing Tips for On-Site SEO for StoryBrand Websites

When you’re writing content, there are some basic guidelines you should keep in mind that help both humans and robots (Google) read your text.

  • Headers: This is the first place to start. When humans read your content, they don’t start by reading it. They start by skimming your content, which means they glance through it to get the basic idea of the content, then the scan it, which means they read through the content quickly to find facts and see if they like it. Then, if they like it, they read it.

    Break your content down into small, bite-sized pieces with headers to make it easier on people when they’re skimming and scanning. This will also help them decide to read it, which means they engage longer. Google likes to see people stay on your page longer and will reward you.Headers are also helpful for SEO for StoryBrand websites because it helps Google understand which ideas are important.

    Don’t forget that Google reads the rest of your content, too, but specifying headers helps. Note: make sure you use HTML or built-in header selections (which write the HTML) so Google knows. Simply adjusting the text size or bolding the text won’t work.

  • Bold text: Similar to headers, bold text helps both humans and search engines understand your content. Don’t overdo it, because that will increase confusion. Use bold text to highlight main ideas and help humans better understand your content. This will also help search engines.  
  • Internal links: Linking to other pages on your website helps Google understand what each page is about. This works best when you’re intentional. Don’t just link to random pages to build your internal links. Categorize your pages and blog posts and link to other pages and blog posts within the same category (HubSpot has a great article on internal links, look at #10).
  • Optimize images: Search engines don’t know what images look like. Image titles and alt-text are used to tell the search engine what the image is. SEO experts have known to add alt-text to images for awhile, but now Google is adding extra preference to websites with alt-text because it helps people with vision impairment engage with your website. When someone with vision impairment comes to your website they might not be able to see the images or read the text.

     

    Thankfully, phones and computers can read the text on the website to them. Just like search engines, the apps that read websites can’t describe an image, so they read the alt-text to the user instead.

    Google wants everyone to have a great experience on your website, including people who are visually impaired. Add image titles and alt-text to your images with the human in mind. Remember that they can’t see it, so give a nice description of what it is. If it’s possible to include a keyword, include it. But remember to write for the human first and the search engine second. Don’t over-saturate your image alt-text with keywords just for Google.

    As an example, the alt-text for the first image in this post is this: “man reading a guide to seo for storybrand websites on his phone.”

When you optimize your awesome content, it makes it easier for Google to read and understand what it is and when to show it to searchers.

 

3. Create Incredible Content

Want more people on your website? Everything you’ve read so far is just the rules of the game. This is how to move the ball down the field.

Creating great content is how you boost your SEO.

If you don’t play by the rules, you’re not going to see the results you want. When you play by the rules, your content can help you reach your goal of more people on your website and more people buying your product.

Both humans and search engines love content. In fact, it’s the cornerstone of SEO for StoryBrand websites.

But not just any content. Content for the sake of content doesn’t help anyone. Good, valuable content. Remember, Google likes to see people spend more time on your site. So create content worth reading. Your human viewers will love it—and they might even share it! That’s another benefit of useful content.

Start small with a weekly blog post or video. Whatever fits you best. I love reading blogs and articles, so creating blog posts makes sense. Whenever I write one, I make sure it’s something I would read and find valuable.

After you create your content, let everyone know about it. Post on social media, send to your email list, etc. Google notices the traffic.

After you get into a content-creation rhythm, step up your game by creating content on multiple platforms. Google loves this. Do you have a blog? Awesome, film a video for each blog post, upload it to YouTube then embed it in your blog post.

When Google sees your activity on multiple platforms it starts to see you as a brand rather than a person. This is good because Google isn’t always sure if it can trust (and should boost the ranking for) a person. Brands are more trustworthy to Google, so you’ll see a boost in your search ranking.

Here are some avenues for your content:

  • Blogs and articles
  • YouTube videos
  • Podcasts

Here are some ideas for content:

  • How-to guides
  • Infographics
  • Tutorials
  • Industry articles

For more info, check out Neil Patel’s guide to content marketing.

 

4. Link Building

Google is a popularity contest. We’re all trying to win the crown of Prom King or Prom Queen. Ugh, just thinking about that brings back bad memories! But it’s true. And it’s necessary for SEO for StoryBrand websites.

One of Google’s hardest tasks is figuring out who’s trustworthy and what content people want. Determining who’s popular helps Google figure this out. If other people think your site is good, Google can assume it is trustworthy and helpful to searchers, too.

How do you convince Google you’re popular?

Links.

When you share a blog post, video, or article with a friend, you’re implying, “I like this and trust it.” When you put a link to a blog, article, product, etc. on your website you’re saying the same thing.

Google believes you’re popular when it sees other people linking to your website. One link from someone else’s website isn’t really going to help you. You want to start getting links regularly. Quantity and quality both matter. The more links to your website, the better. But it doesn’t help if the websites linking to you are small or un-trafficked. The best links are from websites with authority.

There are three main ways to do build links:

  • Organic links: This is when your content is so good that people link to it without you asking them. These are the best!
  • Whitehat: Good, quality links from good, quality websites. Find some tips on how to build these links below.
  • Blackhat: Dishonest and unhelpful. Spamming people’s comment boxes, creating fake websites to link to you. Low quality links from low quality sources. Don’t do this.

Here are some ideas on how to build good links:

  • Link to others in a quality post or article, then email them to let them know about the link and tell them why you think they’re awesome and ask them to link back to you.
  • Write guest blog posts for popular blogs in your industry and put a link to your website in the author’s box.
  • Ask people in your industry or who you work with if they’ll add a link to your website on their website. Sometimes people list partners or vendors and you can get a link there.
  • Create great content that people want to link to.
  • Create online profiles. Social media, Google My Business, etc. Not all of these links count, but it’s a good practice and might attract people to your website anyway.
  • List your website in directories in your industry or pay to have it listed. Some cities have lists of the “best local companies that do _____”.

 

5. Monitor Your Progress

Often, when we don’t know how something is going we assume the worst. We think it must not be going well. In addition, I’m a firm believer that what gets measured gets done.

For those two reasons, I always measure my progress. I want to see what’s going well and what’s not. This lets me fix things that aren’t going well and celebrate the things that are.

Here are my favorite ways to track search results:

  • Google Search Console: This is where you can tell Google to look at your site if you made updates and monitor the searches that you’re ranking for.
  • Google Analytics: The best free analytics platform out there. You can track pretty much everything! It can take some learning, but it’s worth it.
  • Authority Labs: These kind folks track how your search ranking changes over time and lets you know what search engines think your page is about.

There are many great tools to track and improve your search presence, but these are good to start with. Especially if you’re just getting into all this.

 

If you follow these SEO for StoryBrand website principles outlined in this article, you’ll start ranking higher in search results. But remember, search results don’t change overnight. This is a long game. Do this for six months before truly evaluating how it’s going. It takes at least that long to see a solid boost in your search results.

Stick with it! You make great things and you deserve to be found, not buried beneath everyone else in Google.

Follow these SEO for StoryBrand website tips and watch your search ranking increase.

Good luck!

To your success,

Ryan

Make more money with a website that sells

StoryBranding your website can be hard! That’s why we host a quarterly How to StoryBrand Your Website Masterclass.

Join StoryBrand Certified Guide, Ryan Toth, and dozens of business leaders as we go through the ins and outs of confidently creating a StoryBrand website that makes you money.

 

StoryBrand Website Examples

StoryBrand Website Examples

StoryBrand Website Examples

Many people hear about the StoryBrand Framework and are excited to take the information and run with it, creating greater clarity for their business.

But somewhere along the line, whether through busyness or the complicatedness of life, you start wondering, am I doing this right?

I have felt that feeling myself. I wondered if I described my customer’s problem in such a way they identify with it. I struggled with getting my language clean and concise. I wrestled with being too “cute” or too “artsy” in my language. I was too verbose.

And, I think the biggest issue I had (and seen others have) is that I knew my product so well I started talking with ‘insider’ language — this is where everyone inside the organization knows what you are talking about because it is familiar, but others really have no idea. This is extraordinarily easy to do and a bit tricky to overcome.

When we’re not clear in our marketing or on our website, we lose revenue.

Many people are in business to improve their customer’s lives and make our world a better place — even if only in a small way. They hear talk of revenue and check out. Revenue isn’t the point for these folks. Impact is.

However, without revenue, there is no capital to invest in the world. Your impact diminishes. Many nonprofits or businesses with a social mission are forced to close their doors because they didn’t see the necessity of prioritizing revenue.

Whether your goal is to make a bunch of money or to have a meaningful impact, your marketing matters. Your message matters.

When I am trying to learn a new way of doing things, I love to see examples of people who are masters of that skill.

Just like bikes in a peloton draft off of one another, gaining speed from each other’s draft, marketers gain momentum and clarity by looking at examples of how to do it right. How to be excessively clear.

Here are six StoryBrand website examples

In this article, our goal is to emphasize the first impression, the first three seconds, and demonstrate how StoryBrand can make your website immediately clear. Find a full walkthrough of how to StoryBrand your website here.

Viewers only give you 3 seconds to tell them what you do before they decide to check out. If you’re not clear, they leave. We use something we call the “Grunt Test” to see how clear a website is. We look at the site for 3 seconds and ask these 3 questions:

  1. What do you sell?
  2. How does it make my life better?
  3. How do I buy?

The companies in these StoryBrand website examples come from a diverse population of size and type. The common element is that they are incredibly CLEAR. In a quick scan of each website, it is immediately apparent what these businesses are selling and how to buy it.

Let’s look at some StoryBrand website examples to see if they pass the Grunt Test.

StoryBrand Website Example #1: CageRat Baseball

storybrand website example 1 cagerat baseball

This certainly passes the test of clarity. Many websites don’t explicitly state what they’re selling. Users have to scroll all over the site and burn many mental calories to figure it out. CageRat clearly tells you what they offer. Let’s go through the Grunt Test.

  1. What do they do? It’s a youth baseball training program.
  2. How does it make your life better? It helps you empower your son to reach his potential. And, look at that picture! As a parent, I recognize what’s going on instantly. In fact, that’s exactly what I want for my son.
  3. How do you buy? There are two clearly labeled buttons.

Let’s look at another website.

 

StoryBrand Website Example #2: Koha Pet Food

storybrand website example 2 koha pet food
  1. What do they do? They help your pet thrive with food that provides the best nutrition for your pet. This is extraordinarily clear.
  2. How does it make your life better? Your pet is now thriving and healthy. And that picture helps me imagine how happy my dog will be when I start feeding him Koha!
  3. How do you buy? By clicking one of those big, red buttons! So good.

Their photo makes you smile as you imagine your own wonderful dog leaping and enjoying his or her life because s/he feels good. All because of good nutrition. Koha is a great example of a clear message.

In this next example, this company took clarity even further — they put it in their name.

 

StoryBrand Website Example #3: Perfect Venue

storybrand website example 3 perfect venue

Notice the photo and the wording. We aren’t left guessing what these guys offer.

  1. What do they do? Help you find a venue for an event.
  2. How does it make your life better? They don’t help you find a mediocre venue, they help you find the perfect venue for your event!
  3. How do you buy? This one’s a little different, the main call to action is “Find a Venue.” There are two clear buttons for you to press to do that.

This next website example is a little different. It’s a person rather than a company.

 

StoryBrand Website Example #4: Judy Ingels

storybrand website example 4 judy ingels

In this StoryBrand website example, it’s evident that even when a brand is a person all the same rules about clarity and message still apply.

  1. What does she do? She helps you get a home loan.
  2. How does it make your life better? You get to buy your dream home! And she also helps with the insecurity that comes with buying a house. If you have ever bought a home, then you know that it is a complicated process that can easily create tension and frustration.

Here is a great example of addressing both an internal and an external problem for the customer. Anxiety and frustration are strong emotions that motivate people. If your business can address my angst and also the “internal crazy”, then I am that much more willing to entertain your offer. And that makes you more money.

  1. How do you buy? Here is another example of making things very understandable to the website visitor. Notice how easy it is to find the call-to-action button. Nice job!

 

StoryBrand Website Example #5: Zoe Facility Services

storybrand website example 5 zoe facility services

You don’t necessarily know what this business does from the name, however, the copy immediately tells you what this business is all about.

  1. What do they do? They clean your facility.
  2. How do they make your life better? You experience relief. You are free to focus on your core objectives. And your building is clean. Consistently.
  3. How do you buy? Click the “Schedule a Call” button

 

StoryBrand Website Example #6: Colorado Mobile Drug Testing

storybrand website example 6 colorado mobile drug testing

All of the pieces that we have been talking about show up on this StoryBrand website example.

  1. What do they do? Drug testing anywhere.
  2. How does it make your life better? Gain confidence your team isn’t on drugs.
  3. How do you buy? The easy to spot call-to-action button.

This company’s target client is someone who is not sure if their team is drug-free. Furthermore, it is difficult to get employees to go to some off-site location and get drug-tested. This would make me uneasy. Especially if the work involved any kind of precision that could harm other people if attention to detail was lacking.

Who comes to the rescue? You can, by utilizing Colorado Mobile Testing. They come to you and do the testing at a time that works for your people. The company is not the hero, the customer is. They save the day by bringing along someone who can really help, by helping you keep your team drug-free.

 

Now that you understand these concepts and have seen them implemented in several StoryBrand website examples, do you feel more confident as you try to change your own messaging? I hope these examples both inspired you and challenged you to change some of the messaging on your own website.

Don’t continue missing out on future revenue and customers because your messaging is clunky and obtuse. Learn from these StoryBrand website examples.

When people understand what you sell and how it makes their life better, they buy more. Take some time and see if you can get your website as clear as the StoryBrand website examples we looked at here.

And if you don’t have the time, let us help you. We’d love to help make more money with a clear story.

To your success,

Miriam

Make more money with a website that sells

StoryBranding your website can be hard! That’s why we host a quarterly How to StoryBrand Your Website Masterclass.

Join StoryBrand Certified Guide, Ryan Toth, and dozens of business leaders as we go through the ins and outs of confidently creating a StoryBrand website that makes you money.

 

3 Big Target Audience Myths (and how you can avoid them)

3 Big Target Audience Myths (and how you can avoid them)

3 Big Target Audience Myths (and how you can avoid them)

I have some bad news for you: Your target audience is hurting your business.

That’s right. Contrary to popular belief, chasing your target audience isn’t helping you grow your business.

It’s preventing you from growing.

Common marketing wisdom tells us you must have a “target audience.” If you haven’t heard the term before, it’s basically a description of the particular group you are targeting to sell to.

In theory, your target audience allows you to figure out which products appeal to which people. It helps you determine who to market to and whether or not you’ve maxed out your market share. Are there more people in your target audience to sell to or should you develop a new product?

Plus, it’s kind of fun! Instead of having to look into the great crowd of the world and wonder how to connect with your buyers, you can look at your specific target audience and feel like you know who you’re writing your blogs or Facebook posts to.

It sounds like a great idea!

Unfortunately, the target audiences that most people create do more harm than good.

Instead of helping them grow, their target audience is preventing them from reaching their business’s full potential.

In this article, I’ve outlined three of the biggest target audience myths that are keeping you from the growth you want. And I also reveal what you should do instead.

Let’s get into it.

woman in target audience

Myth #1: I should create a “profile” for my target audience

From blog writing to social media to SEO and beyond, many marketers recommend getting super specific with your target audience. “Don’t stop at why people want your product, get inside their heads!”

Recommendations are all over telling you to create a “profile” for your buyers. Write down other brands they buy, where they spend their free time, how they take their coffee, and on, and on.

Many marketers tell us to imagine our ideal customer and create a profile for them so we know who we’re marketing to.

We end up with something like this: “My new app is designed to appeal to a 24-year-old millennial who still lives in his mom’s house and listens to Led Zeppelin on his brand new iPhone XS Max.”

The common belief is that a good majority of our customers are from our target audience. So we target our writing or ads to show up in their feeds and appeal specifically to them.

Let me tell you a secret: That guy you’re picturing isn’t helping you grow your business. In fact, he’s barely contributing to your bottom line.

Don’t believe me? Let me show you.

Harley Davidson is often held up as a company with a very specific customer profile. I bet you can picture them yourself: burley, bearded men who have tattoos and spend most of their time on or with their Harley.

These are the guys who get in fights over why Harley Davidson is the best and even tattoo the logo onto their arms. They make less money than other bikers and spend more of it on their bikes. They would say they feel more satisfied with life when they’re on their Harley.

Yes, this customer profile exists and has been studied.

And it only makes up 3.5% of Harley Davidson’s sales revenue (Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow).

Sit with that for a moment. The guy we all think of when we imagine a Harley Davidson owner only makes up 3.5% of Harley’s sales.

So where does the other 96.5% of Harley Davidson’s revenue come from? People who don’t fit into that profile; people who look nothing like that profile.

  • They don’t care which brand of motorcycle they buy
  • Riding their motorcycle doesn’t make them feel more satisfied with life
  • They don’t get Harley tattoos
  • They don’t fit a unique demographic

This isn’t my hunch. This is based on real data of Harley Davidson’s real customers.

I know this defies common marketing wisdom. But most marketing wisdom is based on hunches and case studies. This is based on careful research and mounds of data covering decades of sales and every industry you can think of.

This marketing and sales data show us that this is more than just a trend. This same thing happens across the board. 

A company’s biggest fans and most obvious customers (what we could call their “customer profile”) contribute very little to their sales.

In fact, this happens so often and is so predictable it could be considered a law of marketing.

But, if we all think creating a customer profile is such a good idea, and it has so many people saying we should do it, then what’s the real problem?

Read on to find out.

unique person in target audience

Myth #2: My target audience is unique

When talking to a marketing consultant or agency, many business leaders hear some version of this question: “How are your customers different from those of your competitors?”

Most people believe that people in their target audience or customer profile are different from their competitors’ customers.

This unfortunate assumption is not true.

Think about products you buy frequently. Which companies do you buy from? Starbucks, Walmart, Chick-fil-A, Colgate, you name it.

Now, think back over the last year. How many different toothpastes have you bought? Toilet paper brands? How many coffee shops have you been to? Fast food restaurants?

I’m not talking about your favorites. I’m asking which ones you’ve purchased. Even if you have favorites — two or three brands you prefer over all the rest — you might not purchase them 100% consistently. Sometimes another brand is on sale, sometimes the one you want is out of stock.

Intention is not the key here — action is. Even if you’d prefer to only drink Starbucks coffee, sometimes you need a latte when Starbucks isn’t close.

Whatever the reason for purchasing a different brand, everyone does it. No one is 100% loyal to every single brand they buy. That means there is a percentage of every customer base that occasionally buys from a different company than normal.

Research tells us that most people buy from more than one company in every category. And your customers do the same thing.

The fact that you buy from competing companies means you are a customer of direct competitors. The same is true of your customers. They also buy from your competitors.

Which means your customers are not unique. They don’t think differently. They are the same as your competitors’ customers.

Ouch. It’s like a dagger to the heart! But I wouldn’t lie to you.

Think about the last few cars you bought. I’ve owned a Dodge, Saturn, Nissan, Honda, and Hyundai. I’m definitely guilty of being a customer to competing companies.

A famous study was done by Franklin B. Evans that looked into the difference between Ford buyers and Chevrolet buyers. The study found no difference in the personality traits of the buyers!

Just like with Harley Davidson, the percentage of people who are “true loyalists,” who never buy more than one brand, is tiny.

Surveys of customers within any industry reveal that within that industry, customers of competing companies respond to surveys same, think the same, and buy from more than one company in that industry.

An industry itself can have a unique audience from other industries, but the companies within an industry do not.

In fact, buyers regularly buy from competing companies without a second thought (think back to the toothpaste brands you’ve bought in the last year or the coffee shops you’ve been to).

Studies show this trend expands across every industry. Every company within an industry all share the same audience as the industry as a whole.

Yes, this even happens in your industry. Yes, even with your company.

What this means for you as a business leader is that there is no need to create a customer profile. There is no need to figure out the differences between your customers and your competitors’ customers. Because they’re the same.

Your customers and your competitor’s customers are the same people.

I know this flies in the face of common marketing advice, but stay with me. After the next myth, I share how to create the perfect target audience (here’s a quick hint: it is less about the person and more about the problem that person is experiencing, but more on that in a minute).

older woman in target audience

Myth #3: My target audience should include things like values and demographics

Now we know that your customers are not unique, they are the same as other companies in your industry. But demographics still matter, right? What about psychographics — personalities, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles?

At this point, you might be wondering: Isn’t it a good idea to have some idea of who my customers are? At least their age or income level?

Most people are convinced their customers are different from their competitors’ customers. They have different values and opinions than their competitors’ customers. They live in different places, are a different age or gender than their competitors’ customers. Otherwise, they wouldn’t buy from you!

Unfortunately, this is false.

Let’s look at an example. An extreme example. Not just about generic companies, but a company that truly tried to market to a unique target audience.

Over the years, Yorkie candy bars have had extremely targeted marketing. They advertised to men. Their ads often included truck drivers enjoying Yorkie bars. They even went so far as to outright say, “It’s not for girls!” Pieces of marketing included pictures of girls that were crossed out.

It’s hard to target your marketing or advertising more specifically than that.

But looking at the demographics of Yorkie reveals a lot: their customers are 56% men and 44% women. It’s a marginal difference. Practically negligible.

Even with marketing that targeted such a specific demographic, Yorkie could not escape the customer profile of their industry or the norm of about half men, half women buyers.

While this is only one example, there are hundreds more. (Find more in this book.)

But before we cross demographic differentiators off our list, there is one area that demographics do matter. Price.

Price is one of the only standout differentiators for brands.

Earlier I mentioned the study comparing the customers of Ford and Chevrolet. While Ford and Chevy share the same audience, Cadillac does not. The reason for this is that the price for a Cadillac is prohibitive; to buy a Cadillac you must be able to afford a Cadillac.

This simple distinction changes Cadillac’s customer demographics. Cadillac’s buyers make more money than Ford and Chevrolet buyers. Even so, there are often no other significant changes in customer bases.

Surveys sent to customers of rival brands reveal that they even think similarly. Customers of different brands were asked questions like these:

  • I am happy with my standard of living
  • I can’t bear untidiness
  • I try to keep up with technology
  • I always look for special offers

Their responses had statistically negligible differences. The responses of almost every company’s customer base are within 1% or 2% of competitors’ customer responses. I know this goes against everything you’ve been taught about your customers, but let me say it one more time—the research points in one direction:

No matter what industry you’re in, your customers are so similar to your competitor’s customers there is no advantage to defining or marketing to a different group.

target audience crowd in a bullseye

When you narrow your target audience too far you miss out on customers.

This is the tough truth many marketers are missing.

If you focus all your marketing efforts on the 24-year-old on his new iPhone in his mom’s basement, you risk missing the 37-year-old woman who just started her own business and could use your app, or the 58-year-old gardener who would also find it valuable.

When you narrow your target audience, you might see a short-term bump in sales (as all the 24-year-olds download your app), but you miss out on long-term revenue and growth.

Is your brain throwing a fit right now? Is it arguing with me? Trust me, when I first learned this, mine was. It’s hard to wrap our minds around something that is so far outside of what we’ve believed to be true.

The good news is, creating a target audience that works is much simpler than you thought. And it makes so much sense your brain will thank you.

So how do you know who to market your product to?

How to create the perfect target audience.

At this point, we don’t have much of the standard definition of a target audience left. We’ve debunked the marketing myths that are hurting businesses and understand that:

  • customer profiles aren’t helpful
  • your customers aren’t unique
  • their demographics and personality traits are the same across your industry (and clever marketing won’t help you attract substantially different customers)

It can be difficult to let go of those three myths. On the surface, they make so much sense! But they are based on hunches and individual case studies.

Instead of relying on hunches, let’s turn to brain science.

The human brain is a complex organ that we are nowhere close to understanding. However, we do know some things. For example, we know what the brain’s primary goal is.

Our brains are built to keep us alive.

Above all else, our brains are concerned with our survival. Think about the last time you went to a restaurant. You probably didn’t know how many chairs were in the room, but you knew where the exits were. That’s your brain keeping you alive.

Whenever we encounter something new, our brain’s first question is, “How does this help me survive and thrive?” And that’s exactly what your customers’ brains are doing when they encounter your marketing.

Connecting with your customer’s desire to survive and thrive is the foundation for creating your target audience.

There are two questions to answer to identify who you’re truly selling to. If you’re familiar with the StoryBrand Framework, you’ll recognize these questions. They come directly from the Framework. Here they are:

 

1. What do your customers want as it relates to your product or service?

Be specific. You’re not interested in how someone takes their coffee unless you sell coffee or creamer. Keep your answer anchored to your product.

For example, I sell marketing services. If you’re reading this blog you probably want to grow your business. What’s the connection? My marketing services help people grow their business.

My answer to “What do my customers want?” could also be:

  • Better marketing
  • Marketing that makes you money
  • A new website
  • A sales funnel

But not all my clients know about those things. They aren’t all convinced that marketing is the solution. But they all want to grow their business. So that’s what I went with. In sales calls and throughout the process of designing and implementing their marketing strategies, I connect my marketing services with growing their business.

I don’t change anything I offer, I just change the way I talk about it. You won’t find anyone with a megaphone yelling about a pretty website over here. But we will talk about how our websites can help you grow your business.

You want to connect your products or services with something your customers want.

Sometimes when I’m asking a client this question, they give a long, complicated answer. Or they list of twelve things. Or they say, “Well, they think they want [this], but I know they really want [that].”

None of those approaches work. Keep it simple, keep it short, and make sure it’s something your customers know they want. You can introduce the specifics of how your product helps them down the road.

This question isn’t about you, it’s about your customers.

Another quick example: I have a client who helps people with ideas for a product find a manufacturer and set up a business selling that product.

She walks her customers through dozens and dozens of steps. It takes a lot of work to create a product and set up a business! But she doesn’t tell her customers how many steps she’ll help them walk through.

She tells them she’ll help them launch their product to success. That’s what they want. To launch their product. To bring it to life. To stop dreaming about it and make it! Hold it in their hands, sell it to a customer.

So her answer to this is “Launch your product to success.”

Keep it simple, keep it simple, keep it simple.

 

2. What problem do your customers deal with as it relates to your products or service?

We know what your customers want, but something is getting in their way. It’s preventing them from getting what they want. And your product or service helps them overcome that problem.

What problem does your product or service help your customers solve?

For this question, you might have a different answer for each of your products. And your overall business could have its own answer, too.

The reason for this is each of your products probably solves a different problem. That’s why you have those different products! A vacuum cleans dirty carpets (problem: your carpets are dirty), a mop cleans dirty floors (problem: your floors are dirty), and a duster cleans dusty furniture (problem: your furniture is dusty).

Like with everything else, don’t overthink this! Keep it simple.

Quick side note: it’s okay if you have multiple products that solve the same problem, but this doesn’t happen often in small businesses. Think about Coca-Cola, most of their beverages and flavors solve the same problem. This doesn’t mean their products are useless, it means they serve the same target audience.

 

Now that you’ve answered both questions, write them down.

This is your target audience! Your target audience is full of people who want what you sell (or the life that what you sell will provide for them) and have a problem that you solve.

That’s it.

And if you’re worried that this is too vague or that it will make your marketing harder, consider what these two questions can help you discover.

  • What your customers search for on Google (they’re either searching for what they want or how to solve the problem they have)
  • What kind of person buys your product (a person who wants what you sell and/or has a problem you solve)
  • What you should talk about in your marketing (what your customers want and the problem they’re experiencing)

Let me give you one last example:

If we were to create a “customer profile” for the people we think would buy ClearBrand’s products, like everyone suggests, it would be male business owners who know about StoryBrand and bring in more than $1 million in revenue, but less than $20 million.

However, experience and sales have showed us just how wrong we would have been.

In reality, we have worked with just as many women as men, people who’ve never heard of StoryBrand, startups, companies that bring in over $20 million in annual revenue and companies under $500,000 in annual revenue.

What do they all have in common?

  1. They want to grow their business
  2. Their marketing isn’t working

What they want and the problem they’re experiencing.

When you home in on what your customer wants and the problem they’re experiencing, you connect with them in a much more specific way.

Rather than trying to appeal to their demographic, you connect with what they’re going through. You build empathy and authority.

And when you do this, your business grows.

It’s time to throw away the old way of creating target audiences and start using something that works better. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a tool that exists to help you ask these questions. It’s the StoryBrand Framework.

In fact, this is only two of the seven aspects to creating a clear message your customers respond to. These two questions focus on getting to know your customer, the other five parts help you clearly describe what you do and why people should buy (without being a pushy salesman).

If you want to learn more, here are some ways you can dive deep into the StoryBrand Framework:

 

When you create your target audience, your primary goal is to find out what your customers want and what problem they’re experiencing so you can connect with them better.

When you target your marketing to connect with people in this way, your sales go up, you get more customer engagement, and you don’t miss out on potential customers.

 

To your success,

Ryan

Make more money with a website that sells

StoryBranding your website can be hard! That’s why we host a quarterly How to StoryBrand Your Website Masterclass.

Join StoryBrand Certified Guide, Ryan Toth, and dozens of business leaders as we go through the ins and outs of confidently creating a StoryBrand website that makes you money.

 

A Step-by-Step Guide to StoryBrand Your Website

A Step-by-Step Guide to StoryBrand Your Website

A Step-by-Step Guide to StoryBrand Your Website

Most websites are a huge waste.

They sit out there in cyber-space and look pretty, but they don’t do you any good.

For many people, website traffic isn’t exciting. Instead of measuring engagement and giving you a picture of future sales, it feels like watching window-shoppers or drive-bys, where no one actually comes in!

This is not how websites are supposed to work. They’re supposed to bring in leads and sales.

Your website should increase your revenue.

The beauty of the internet is that it allows you to be in control of your destiny. Your website is no exception to this. There are proven methods of increasing traffic, engagement, and conversions – all so your business and revenue grows.

Today, I’m going to reveal to you the secret of making your website work for you. I don’t want it just sitting there—I want it to make you money!

You deserve a website that works.

But first, we need to understand your customers’ brains.

Human brains—your customers’ brains—are wired for survival.

Our brain’s main job is to keep each of us alive. (If you’re reading this, you can rest assured your brain is doing a good job!)

In order to keep you alive, your brain has learned to prioritize and focus on what is important to its survival and tune out anything that doesn’t matter.

Think about the last time you went to a restaurant. Do you know how many people were working? How many chairs were in the room? Probably not. Your brain didn’t care because those things have nothing to do with your survival.

However, you probably knew where the nearest exit was. Because this matters -In case of emergency, your brain is prepared to get you out.

What does this mean for your website? It means that if you’re not seeing the sales you want, it’s probable that your web viewers’ brains are categorizing you like the number of chairs in a restaurant – aka, not important.

If you don’t communicate why you matter to your customers’ (or potential customers’) survival, they don’t pay attention. They’re not interested.

And it’s significantly worse if your website is confusing. Your customers’ brains don’t want to burn precious calories trying to figure out what you’re saying. Burning calories puts their survival at risk. So, instead, they tune you out.

How do you change that? How do you convince your potential customers that you matter to their survival?

The key is clarity.

You must cut through the noise the rest of the world is blasting at your customers all the time — and you don’t do that by creating more noise.

Think about your favorite band. Noise or not noise? Definitely not noise. In fact, I’d call it music.

Why does one bunch of sounds feel like noise (garbage trucks dumping trash, your son or daughter banging on pots and pans, or even a Spanish guitar played by someone who’s never held a guitar before) and another group of sounds feel like music (Bach, Led Zeppelin, or Pentatonix)?

Structure.

Imagine taking the notes and sounds from the Bohemian Rhapsody and jumbling them up. It would sound awful! There is nothing unique about those sounds. That’s not what makes the song great.

What makes songs beautiful and meaningful is the structure applied to the sounds.

When you take sounds and apply structure and rules to them, they can become music. Our brain knows what they mean and what makes them beautiful.

Structure creates clarity.

This is also true for your website. In fact, it’s true for all your marketing and communication.

When you take your message or your words and apply structure to them, they become meaningful to your customers. Your customers know why you matter to their survival. And they listen! They lean in and ask for more.

They buy more from you.

Sound too good to be true? That’s not what Tad, the owner of CageRat Baseball, thinks. He’s seen firsthand how clarity and structure can grow a business.

After we redid his website, his youth baseball program doubled.

And I want to share exactly how, so you can do it too.

The StoryBrand Framework

The StoryBrand Framework combines brain science and the power of storytelling to create the perfect structure for your brand message. Stories have been compelling the human brain for thousands of years. They’re much easier to remember than facts devoid of a story line. Throughout history, we’ve been using the same story formulas.

This formula is cross-cultural, universal, and timeless. Every brain speaks the language of story.

When you apply this story structure to your brand message, your customers hear you. They understand why you matter to their survival and how your product makes their lives better. And, consequently, they purchase more.

We’re going to walk through the StoryBrand Framework piece-by-piece, but I want to show you the overview first so you know where we’re going. Here it is:

  1. A character
  2. With a problem
  3. Meets a guide
  4. Who gives them a plan
  5. And calls them to action
  6. That helps them avoid failure
  7. And results in success

Think about a movie you saw recently and all the pieces will click together. Most blockbuster movies follow this formula perfectly.

Now, let’s walk through how to StoryBrand your website.

How to StoryBrand your website

To create clarity for your customers, so they know why you matter to their survival and buy more from you, we need to add structure to your message. So grab a pen and paper because we’re about to ‘kung fu’ your message into submission. We’re not leaving here until it fits the StoryBrand Framework and you have a solid plan for your website.

What follows is a set of instructions on how to StoryBrand your website. It can take some time, so plan on setting aside a chunk of time to think through each step and re-write your website.

Note: This is the second step you want. The first step is to read Building a StoryBrand, attend a StoryBrand Workshop, or take the StoryBrand Online Course and clarify your message.

A clear message is the crux of this whole process. Without a clear message, you’ll find it incredibly difficult to StoryBrand your website.

While all this may seem like an undertaking, it’s worth it! By the end of the post, you’ll have clear website content you can use to increase conversions and grow your business.

Most websites these days are formatted as one long page with multiple sections. This is perfect for telling your story. We’re going to devote each section to a part of it.

Grab a sheet of paper and imagine it as your website. In each section, you’ll write the main idea as a header then you can decide if you want to have a sub-header and how you’ll present the rest of the content. After we finish each section, draw a line all the way across your paper to represent the transition to the next section.

When you draw out your website like this, we call it a “wireframe.” It’s like a blueprint for a house. It’s the basic plan for your website. After you’ve done this, you can hand it to your web designer or developer and they’ll be able to turn it into your brand new website.

To make it easy on you, here’s a website wireframe template you can use.

Here are some StoryBrand website examples you can look at for inspiration: Colorado Mobile Drug Testing, Zoe Facility Services, Perfect Venue, Koha Pet Food.

It will also be helpful for you to have a separate piece of paper to take notes or brainstorm before putting your content on your wireframe.

Let’s go through it, step-by-step. (And don’t forget to download the website wireframe template here.)

1. A Character

Every story is about someone. This is the main character. But a story isn’t interesting if it just follows some random guy around for two hours. The character has to want something. The story has to clearly demonstrate what the character wants in the first few moments or it’ll lose the audience.

The same is true of your website. The first thing your website should do is tell your customer that you have what they want. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. In relation to what you sell, what is it that your customers want?
  2. If your customer gets what they want, how will their life be better?
  3. If your customer is ready to buy now, how do they do that?

Write down your answers on your note-taking paper.

All of these questions are important because your customer has to know what you sell. But she doesn’t only want the thing you sell, she also wants the life that having this thing will help her have. Imagining how her life will be better is part of what’s driving her to look for your product.

If she’s ready to buy now, you don’t want her having to look around to figure out how to do that. If your “Buy Now” button isn’t clear, you risk losing customers.

Often, I see people trying to be really cute about this at the expense of clarity. Like this website:

Do you know what they offer? Nope. Do you know how it makes your life better? Me neither. They’re losing millions because their customers don’t know if this company has what they want.

Now look at this website:

storybrand website zoe facility services

This is the same company (Zoe Facility Services), but this is after we helped them clarify their message.

Do you know what they offer? Yep. Do you know how it will make your life better? Yep. Double win.

Now for the bonus points: What if you’re ready to buy? Do you know how you’d do that? Yep.

Ding ding ding! That’s what we want for your customers. They should have all three of their “want” questions answered without even scrolling. Here are those questions again: 

  1. What do you offer?
  2. How does it make your customers’ lives better?
  3. How do they buy?

Now that you have your answers, go ahead and put them on your website wireframe.

I like to have the biggest text be what your customer wants most, then use the sub-header text to get even more clear so there’s no question about what you do or offer.

Action steps: 1. Write down what your customer wants in relation to what you offer. 2. Then write down how having that will make their life better. 3. Make sure your “Buy Now” button is super clear.

Draw a line all the way across your paper and let’s move to the next section.

2. The Character Has a Problem

Have you ever seen a movie that didn’t have some kind of conflict? They don’t exist. Screenwriters and storytellers know an important fact about stories: the story is the problem. Without a problem, there is no story.

This is true of your customers as well. They wouldn’t be on your website if they didn’t have a problem they were hoping to solve.

Don’t miss this. It’s incredibly important.

Your customers are on your website because they have a problem. If you’re not talking about the problem you solve, your customers have no reason to be there.

Remember: the story is the problem. So talk about it. When your customers see you talking about the problem they have, they lean in. They get interested.

When you talk about the problem your customers are experiencing, they connect your product with their survival.

On your note-taking paper, answer these questions:

  1. What problem are your customers experiencing that’s driving them to look for a product like yours?
  2. How does that problem make them feel?

I know, I know, feelings aren’t always a favorite topic. But let me share a secret that most marketers and business leaders miss.

People buy solutions to their negative emotions, i.e. their internal problems—not their external problems.

Yes, you sell a product that solves the external problem your customers are experiencing. But that’s not why they buy. They buy because they don’t like the way that external problem makes them feel. They buy to solve their internal problem.

On your website, you need to talk about both the external and the internal problems.

Here are some examples of StoryBranded websites that do this well. Write down some ideas as you scroll through them.

1. Colorado Mobile Drug Testing 

2. Carvana

 

Lists work great here because they let you get specific without having to worry about grammar or formatting a paragraph. I like to have the header text be the main problem and have bullet points or lists of specific issues people might experience because of that.

Action step: Make sure you include both external problems and the emotions people experience because of them. Transfer some of your ideas and content to your wireframe, then draw a line all the way across your paper so we can move to the next section.

3. The Character Meets a Guide

In a story, if the character can solve their own problem, it’s not really a problem. It feels like a waste of time. So storytellers created another character who comes alongside the main character to help them solve their problem. This character is called the Guide.

In Star Wars, the guide is Yoda. The role of the guide is to help the main character win.

In business, you are the guide. Your company is the guide. And your job is to help your customers win.

When you position yourself as the guide, your customers connect your company with their survival. They want to do business with you because they know you want to help them solve their problem and succeed.

To be the guide, there are only two ways you can talk about yourself. If you go outside of these two categories in your marketing or on your website, you risk entering into competition with your customers for the role of hero in the story. We don’t want that.

Here are the two questions to answer to position yourself as the guide in your customers’ stories:

1. In what way are you similar to your customers?
2. Why can they trust you to help solve their problem?

Notice that there is nothing there about how hard it’s been to start your business. There’s nothing there about how you want to be a great leader to your staff.

It’s not about you.

Even here, when you finally get to talk about yourself, the story is still about your customers. Keep it that way.

They don’t need to know how cool you are or how hard you’ve worked. They want you to express empathy (the first question) and authority (the second question). That’s it.

This can be a couple of sentences on your website, a bio, or you can work empathy and authority into other elements of your website. Here are some examples of great StoryBrand website guide sections:

1. Flywheel

Action step: Write down a few reasons people can trust you and add them to this section on your wireframe. You can use experience, like Colorado Mobile Drug Testing, symbols of people you’ve worked with, like Learn to Make a Product, or compelling stats, like Flywheel. Then draw a line across your paper and let’s move on.

4. Who Gives Them a Plan

As the guide to your customers, you have two responsibilities. First, give them a plan to solve their problem.

Your product or service is part of the plan, but it’s not the whole thing. Having “Buy Now” buttons all over the place is good, but for many people, they may not be ready to click. They might have questions or concerns they need to have answered first. Or they don’t understand how to use it.

Break down the process into 3-5 bite-size steps that make your customers say, “I can do that!”

Here are some examples:

1. CarMax

 

2. Hubble Contacts

This one doesn’t have “Step 1…2…3” but it could if they wanted and it’s a great example of how a plan can work.

Notice the variety in those plans. Your plan can be about the process to purchase, how to use the product, your onboarding process, or something else.

Having a simple plan is more important than what your plan is.

Don’t get caught up on writing out the perfect plan. It’s more important that you have one, even if it’s not the perfect one.

Simple plans work best. Your process could have 37 steps, but your customers don’t want to know that up front. They trust you’ll walk them through it. Break your 37 steps into three, simple steps.

Think about buying a car. There are many steps.

  • Drive to the dealership
  • Get matched to a sales person
  • Fill out a questionnaire
  • Pick some cars to test drive
  • Test drive each car
  • Look at the specs for each car
  • Talk to your spouse
  • Pick a car
  • Haggle about the price
  • Fill out some paperwork
  • Fill out more paperwork
  • Wait for them to wash it or get it ready
  • Drive off with your new car

Here’s how CarMax breaks down their process:

 1. Find your car

2. See your options

3. Make your decision

Way easier! That’s what we’re going for. Don’t be literal about the exact steps people go through. Remember, your goal is to make your potential customers say, “I can do that!”

Take 60 seconds on this simple exercise. Ask:

1. Is it harder to engage with you or to use your product?

2. Whichever one is more difficult, break it down into three, easy steps.

Tomorrow, look at those steps again and make them easier.

If you’re following along on the website wireframe template, you’ll notice that after this “Process Plan” there’s another plan. The Agreement Plan.

The Agreement Plan is the perfect place to build trust with your customer. Many companies use it as “Our Promise to You” others list off benefits of working with them. Your main goal with this section is to increase trust with your customers. There are two ways I recommend doing this.

1. Respond to objections. Sometimes, people have a tough time getting over the hump and clicking the ‘buy now’ button. What are some of the questions or objections they have? On your note-taking paper, write these down. Now, next to each one, write down how you’d respond if you were talking to a customer face to face.

  • Are they concerned you won’t have their size? Your response might be: “Our one-size-fits-all [product] fits every size!”
  • Are they concerned it will break? You can state: “We guarantee it won’t break, or we’ll replace it for free!”
  • Are they worried it won’t work for them? Give them other’s endorsements as a response to their concern: “Over 10,000 five star reviews on Amazon!”

On your wireframe, write down your response to their concern. Don’t write down their objection, only your positive response.

2. Make a list of benefits of working with you or positive characteristics of your company. Maybe your customers don’t have objections, but they want to know why they can trust you over your competition. Make a list of why they can trust you. Then choose your top 4-6 reasons and put those on your wireframe.

Here are some examples of great Agreement Plans:

1. Allbirds

 

Awesome. Now that you have this section of your wireframe filled out, draw a line across your paper and we’ll keep going.

5. Call Them to Action

People don’t act unless they’re told to act. Say it with me. People don’t act unless they’re told to act. This is the second responsibility of the guide in a story, to call the hero to action.

This fact of life kills so many businesses.

Nice business owners, who don’t want to “be too pushy” fail to ask for the sale either go out of business or limp along for years barely making it, paying themselves half of what they should.

I don’t want this to be you. Let me kill that nasty rumor once and for all. When you don’t ask for the sale, people don’t see you as nice, they see you as lacking confidence in your product. They see you as weak, hoping you’ll buy out of sympathy or empathy … almost like a “charity” buy.

When you ask for the sale, people don’t think you’re pushy—they think you’re confident.

I’d rather do business with a confident company than with an insecure one who’s asking for a handout.

So let’s all agree to ask for the sale. After you see the increase in conversions, you’ll never turn back.

The main way to call your customers to action and ask for the sale is to have a clear “Buy Now” button (or “Schedule a Call” or “Add to Cart” or whatever your first action step is). I like to put these all over the website so that the moment a viewer is ready to purchase, they don’t have to search for the button.

Often, people want to see exactly what they’re getting before they buy. So I’ve found it valuable to include a section that I call the “Offer” or “What You Get” section. This one’s simple:

1. List off everything your customers get when they buy your product.

2. Put a “Buy Now” button right after the list.

Here are some examples:

 

1. Nusii Proposal Software

 

2. G Suite

There was some scrolling required on this one, so you can’t see all the differences, but I love how clear their call to action and “Get Started” buttons are.

 

Brainstorm on your note-taking paper, then transfer your best ideas to your wireframe. Now draw a line across the paper and get ready for the next section.

6. Help Them Avoid Failure

At this point on your website, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the solution to your customers’ problem. It can be easy for them to forget why they’re here. They’re imagining themselves with your solution and aren’t thinking about their problem anymore.

This is mostly good. We want people thinking about how their life will be better with your product or service.

But if there aren’t stakes—if there isn’t a possible failure—there’s no reason to buy from you.

We must remind people why they came to your website in the first place. They have a problem and if they don’t purchase your solution, they will continue living with that problem. And it might even get worse.

We don’t have to go over the top with this one. Failure is like salt. Too much ruins a meal, but a little dash adds the perfect zing.

On your note-taking paper, answer these questions:

  1. If your web viewers don’t buy your product, what problems will they have to keep living with?
  2. Will things get worse? If so, write down some ways that might happen.

On your wireframe, there are a couple of places you can put your failure section. It can go right after your “What You Get” section. Or it can go right before it. The reason for this is that reminding them of their potential failure helps drive people toward purchasing. So I like to have it right before the section that details what and how to purchase.

Wherever you choose to put it, it is important that you have this next section come after it.

7. End With Their Success

Success is the most exciting section for me. It’s the happy ending! The hero accomplishes her mission, the couple ends up together. The character gets what he wants.

It’s what your customers are hoping they’ll experience.

We want your customers to imagine the life they’ll have after they buy your product or service and solve their problem. What will their life look like? Get specific. Imagine all the ways your customers’ lives will be better, then write down your favorites.

In this section, you can use images or bullet points. Maybe even testimonials. Pick the clearest way to show your customers how great their life will be.

Feel free to sprinkle a little success throughout your website. Actually, sprinkle a lot of success! It should be everywhere. All your images should show happy people using your products. You can’t have too much success.

Finish with success.

Success is the happy ending, so you want it to be the end of the story you’re telling. Make sure you have success after your Failure section or “What You Get” section (depending on how you go about it). This should be the end.

The only thing that comes after the end of a movie is the credits. For your website, that’s your footer, a contact box, maybe some FAQs.

Most websites don’t have a dedicated Success section. They normally include success throughout the website, then include it in the CTA or Offer section. Here’s an example:

 

1. StoryBrand

Notice how this flows from Failure to the Offer and Success. The Success (the part that gets people thinking about how great their life will be) includes the “What’s inside the Course?” section and the line right after it drives it all home: “A single paradigm shift from this course could get you a massive return.”

Just outside of this screenshot is the “Buy Now” button. So StoryBrand combined multiple sections into one, beautiful section.

 

Conclusion

You made it! You have a full website wireframe, ready to grow your business.

If you’re not going to build out your website yourself, you can pass your wireframe onto a web designer or developer. Most web designers and developers can take your wireframe and bring it to life (and you’ll probably become their favorite client for being so prepared).

Don’t let your website sit in cyber-space and waste your time and money any longer.

Use these principles to StoryBrand your website and you’ll see why StoryBrand works.

  • Your customers will understand you
  • Your sales will increase
  • Your average session duration will increase (this is a Google Analytics metric that tells you if people are reading and engaging)
  • You’ll see more engagement

I want these results for you, and more. After you StoryBrand your website, track how much better it does then send me an email to share your success!

To your success,

Ryan

 

Make more money with a website that sells

StoryBranding your website can be hard! That’s why we host a quarterly How to StoryBrand Your Website Masterclass.

Join StoryBrand Certified Guide, Ryan Toth, and dozens of business leaders as we go through the ins and outs of confidently creating a StoryBrand website that makes you money.

 

What is the StoryBrand Framework?

What is the StoryBrand Framework?

What is the StoryBrand Framework?

People often have a difficult time creating real understanding between themselves and their listener. This is especially true in business.

Did you know that when you’re not clear—when you confuse your customers—you lose money?

When you don’t communicate clearly, your customers don’t know why they should buy your product. So they don’t.

Here’s a great example from an unclear conversation I had last week.

I had a conversation with a friend the other day who I hadn’t seen in about six years. I had a basic understanding of what he did for a living—he is in the armed services—however, I don’t actually know what he does day to day, so I asked him.

His response to me: “You know, I do stuff. There’s the downtime at the base and we all do our stuff and then there’s the time we go out.”

What?? (And, yes, this was his actual response to me).

I tried again. “Yes, I get that there are the times at the base and then the times in the field, but what are you specifically doing?”

Long pause.

“Well … I guess you could call it a raid.”

“So are you identifying people who are the bad guys or looking for weapons?”

“No, other teams do that.”

At the end of the conversation, I still had no idea what he does.

The problem with a lack of clarity is that when you are not understood, your customers don’t recognize your values which means you fail to accomplish your agenda.

Being louder doesn’t mean you’re being clearer

Have you watched someone in a non-native situation, with a language barrier? Often, people talk louder and with more emphasis to try to be understood, “SIE SCHICKEN DEN BRIEF DORT HIN,” while the listener starts to cry and says in her head, “Please don’t yell at me! I can’t understand that much German and you’re talking too quickly.” (True story. Yes, I am a crier when someone yells at me.)

When you aren’t communicating clearly, agendas aren’t accomplished; if you’re a business, it means lost revenue. And sometimes someone ends up crying.

I want to prevent your tears. My goal is to help you: Tell your story better so you make more money.

You’re not doomed to communicating poorly or getting louder to try to be understood. There is a proven framework you can use to clarify your message. Developed by Donald Miller, the StoryBrand Framework helps your customers understand why you matter to them and why they should buy. (However, it won’t teach you German, nor will it explain special ops).

Having a structure for your messaging gives you direction for what is needed to communicate clearly. Just as it is easier to edit something than it is to create content out of thin air, it is much easier (and clearer) to create a website, email, or other piece of marketing collateral with a proven structure.

Any form of good marketing tells the potential customer a story. All good stories have a predictable pattern, and so, good marketing should also.

Clarify Your Message With the StoryBrand Framework

Depending on which screenwriter you talk to, stories can have upwards of 36 parts. But for our purposes there’s only seven. And you’ll recognize these seven aspects as we go through them. Here’s the seven-part StoryBrand Framework:

    1. A character
    2. Has a problem
    3. Meets a guide
    4. Who gives them a plan
    5. And calls them to action
      That results in…
    6. Failure
      Or
    7. Success

That’s it! It’s pretty obvious when you think about a movie, but what does it look like when you use it in your marketing? Let’s take a look.

Your verbiage should refer to a character: your customer. This character has a problem. When you talk about the problem your customer has, you want to be really clear. Your customer should come away saying, “I feel this way too!” Or, “I have this exact problem.” This creates curiosity—it makes them wonder, can this person solve my problem?

In a great story, there is always a guide who shows the way forward for the hero (your customer). In the StoryBrand Framework, you are the guide showing your potential customer a way to help them with their problem. You are not the hero—they are the hero. And you help them win. You give your customer a plan to help them succeed.

But every great storyteller knows the hero won’t act unless someone tells him to. So there is a call to action. For you, it’s simple: “Buy Now.” The hero either ignores the call to action and fails or he accepts your call to action and solves his problem. With your help (product or service), they succeed.

When businesses utilize this framework for their messaging, they get really clear. Visitors to their website can tell in a few seconds what problem the company solves for them. And when people know what problem you help them solve, they buy more.

Create your own brand story with the StoryBrand Framework

If you are interested in trying your hand at creating a clear brand story, you can go to mystorybrand.com where you will be walked through the whole process of clarifying your message for free. Or, you can contact us and we would be glad to help you and your company clarify your message and grow your business

Don’t risk your business by continuing to confuse your customer — don’t tell them you make stuff and then do other stuff and then go on raids, like my Army friend. And don’t shout gibberish at them either. Louder marketing does not equal clearer communication.

Clarify your message and help your customers succeed. They’ll become your biggest fans and you’ll feel happier and make more money in the process.

To your success,

Miriam

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Most business owners waste money on websites that don’t work.

Download our free PDF, The Ultimate Guide to Money-Making Websites, to see how easy it is to get your website working for you.

 

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