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Zach Basner

By Zach Basner

Jul 21, 2021


Inbound Marketing Content Marketing Marketing Strategy
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Inbound Marketing  |   Content Marketing  |   Marketing Strategy

How Can the StoryBrand Framework Be Used for Inbound Marketing?

Zach Basner

By Zach Basner

Jul 21, 2021

How Can the StoryBrand Framework Be Used for Inbound Marketing?

StoryBrand is a marketing framework developed by Donald Miller, a bestselling author, public speaker, and CEO. When he needed a better, more engaging way to explain his business’s story and how it could help solve his customers’ problems, he created the StoryBrand method by using a common storytelling technique used by scriptwriters and novelists: the hero’s journey.

As Miller explains in his 2016 book Building a StoryBrand (HarperCollins), using the hero’s journey will not only help you craft great stories that keep people’s attention for longer periods of time, but it also makes it easier to explain how you can help them in a way that positions your customer — rather than your business — as the hero. This method works because it gives businesses a way to directly associate their products as a solution to your customers’ problems, helping them succeed. 

As you guide them along the buyer’s journey in this way, you’re building trust and helping them feel good about purchasing the products and services you offer. 

🔎 Related: What is the StoryBrand Framework? (As told by Dirty Dancing)

The idea is that by using carefully crafted stories within your business website’s marketing content and messaging, you attract more prospects and customers by inviting them into a story where they are the hero trying to save the day. Generally, the hero’s journey is about a character’s transformation from where they are now to where (or who) they want to be. 

If your story is well-branded and compelling, it’s easier for you to:

  • Generate more leads for your sales team: The main way StoryBrand helps generate more leads is that it gives sales the talking points they need to associate your product with the customer’s problems. The whole time a customer is talking with sales, they are considering one thing: “How is this company going to help me survive?”
  • Unify your product messaging: StoryBrand helps you define an overarching corporate narrative that works for everyone, and can be easily communicated to prospects. When you don’t have unified messaging, all of your people are talking about your company and solution differently, and the message becomes confusing and watered down. We need to say the same things over and over again until the customer actually remembers it.
  • Increase revenue from existing customers: StoryBrand focuses on selling the value of the relationship your customer is developing with you rather than the next product or service. It also helps people understand that they don’t want just any old solutions, but instead that they specifically want what you have to offer.
  • Improve brand consistency across all channels: StoryBrand helps establish continuity between each channel you use to convey your story. This continuity makes you seem more trustworthy and reliable, which gives people a reason to do business with you.

In short, it’s a better way of reframing your business’s message to get what you do and how you can help across to your audience while leading prospects through the buyer’s journey.

How StoryBrand can help your business

We often recommend businesses use the StoryBrand approach to inbound marketing because it helps turn confusing messaging into something crystal-clear that gets heard, acted upon, and remembered by prospects. It forces us to be specific about what we do so we can better connect with people who are searching for ways to achieve their goals.

As you implement an inbound marketing strategy for your business, you might struggle with how to talk about your business, in a way that not only reaches your ideal customer but also gets them to take meaningful action.

If so, you’re not alone. This can happen to the most intelligent business owners, marketers, and subject-matter experts alike. It’s what we call the curse of knowledge, which happens when someone is so knowledgeable about their products and services that, in their eagerness to share that knowledge, they unintentionally confuse people with unclear messaging.

Applying the StoryBrand framework to your inbound marketing strategy can help you sidestep this issue and create clear, meaningful inbound marketing campaigns.

🔎 Related: Inbound marketing benefits explained (updated for 2021)

Why StoryBrand is a good fit for inbound marketing

You likely already know a good deal about inbound marketing, including what it is and how it works, but as a quick refresher: Inbound marketing is a way of attracting relevant prospects to you rather than going out and finding them through traditional advertising. So rather than investing in billboards and radio spots, you’re investing in digital content that helps the buyer find you.

It’s a better long-term investment because the ROI is trackable, and in many ways, it’s more dependable than hoping people will see your billboard or pick up the phone and call you. With this type of traditional advertising, you have to keep paying the same amount of money and doing the same amount of work for the same result. 

But with content marketing, you put in the time and effort to create great content and it continues to pay dividends for years. You're building a foundation that you can trust and grow versus using outbound methods, where you have to come up with things spontaneously, all the time. 

🔎 Related: Outbound vs. inbound marketing in 2021, which is better?

How StoryBrand can be used with inbound marketing 

Even if you’re great at inbound marketing and getting a lot of people to your website, it’s not always incredibly clear what you do and the problems that you solve, which Miller refers to as the “Grunt Test.” If you showed your website to a caveman, they should be able to figure out within eight seconds:

  • What you offer. 
  • How it will make their life better. 
  • How to get it.

When prospects enter your website, how you can help should be apparent — immediately — or as we mentioned before, you run the risk that your prospects will leave confused instead of getting excited about what you offer and purchasing your products and services. 

You already know that StoryBrand is all about creating a clear message so your marketing efforts are more effective, but even if you do have a clear message, you can’t expect the customer to know instinctively what to do.

For example, a lot of websites have several calls-to-action on their homepage, including a “contact us” button, which can seem vague to your website visitor and discourage them from reaching out. Whether we want prospects to book an appointment, buy now, or take an assessment — whatever that specific call-to-action is — we have to be incredibly clear about what they should do instead of creating confusion by having too many options. Then, we need to repeat that direct call-to-action over and over throughout your website and your marketing campaigns.

Just like when we explain to our clients how to apply the They Ask, You Answer framework to their inbound marketing strategy, applying StoryBrand begins by focusing on your customer’s needs. And you can do this by first developing a BrandScript.

🎓 IMPACT+ course: They Ask, You Answer fundamentals with Marcus Sheridan

As their guide, you need to get very clear about the problems your customers need to solve, and clearly show empathy and authority — in other words, competency — in helping people solve these problems so they can win the day. You can’t just list the benefits that somebody experiences by working with you. You need to present a clear picture of what success and failure look like. This helps your prospects better understand their problem and what they’re up against. 

Developing a BrandScript, which is a seven-step process that can help you craft the story you’re inviting customers into, is the first step you need to take. 

This initial story-creating process can take a good amount of time and thought. Many businesses, including IMPACT, help people solve a lot of problems. The trick is narrowing this down into the one overarching problem they all point to. This is typically a one-line script called the “one-liner” that you can further implement into your website or use to develop wireframes for a new website.

StoryBrand coaches can help your business develop this concept and integrate it into your sales and marketing messaging channels, such as your website, sales processes, and email nurturing sequences. 

Consider StoryBrand for your inbound marketing strategy

As with the They Ask, You Answer methodology, certain frameworks and ways of approaching inbound marketing help it work better. Just as you can use They Ask, You Answer to discuss difficult topics and questions your prospects have, StoryBrand puts forth the notion that you need to be incredibly clear about your customer's problems and how they can go about solving them. 

Ultimately, they both champion the customer as the hero by saying they have the ability to make the best decision for themselves without a salesperson. We even encourage businesses to try both methods in tandem, as we feel they complement each other well. 

If you’re interested in exploring more about how the StoryBrand framework can take your inbound marketing strategy to the next level, check out their website, where you can access:

  • Personal coaching. 
  • Live sessions from industry experts, including Donald Miller, Dr. J.J. Peterson, and Koula Callahan.
  • Access free downloads that can help you begin your own StoryBrand journey.

You can also join the hundreds of businesses working with our Digital Sales & Marketing Mastery coaches to shape the success of your own digital marketing undertakings. Our coaches guide you along an intensive 12-24-month-long training, which includes specific direction on how to apply the They Ask, You Answer, and StoryBrand frameworks to your inbound marketing and sales strategies to close deals faster, improve ROI, and become the most trusted business in your industry. 

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