How Brand Messaging Gives Your Business Authority

A book review of Donald Miller’s, “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.”

By Victor Filoromo, Strategist

“Pretty websites don’t sell things. Words sell things.” It’s one of the opening sentences in Donald Miller’s book Building a StoryBrand. Every day, according to Miller, brands are making mistakes that cost them customers, attention, and most importantly, cash.

Think of your favorite big-budget box office hit. You may be drawn in by special effects or the unique soundtrack, but ultimately, there’s a story that hooks you for two hours. When it comes to your brand, it’s important that your story sells and your marketing dollars are well spent.

Positioning Your Business for Success

In his book, Miller discusses the top two reasons businesses fail when it comes to marketing: they don’t focus on what helps people survive and thrive and they force customers to waste valuable time understanding what they offer.

If you aren’t helping someone survive and thrive, your message falls flat. Likewise, when the message is muddled, customers don’t know what their next steps should be and look elsewhere.

Experienced writers know that great writing often isn’t about what is said, but what is left unsaid — eliminating clutter. When it comes to marketing your business, it’s all about creating an effective story that informs. So, how exactly should that be done?

The Customer Is the Hero

Once you have determined who your ideal customers are, you need to understand what they are looking for and how to help them get there. Customers don’t necessarily want to hear about long personal histories, or how your grandfather’s business dealings in the 1920s led to where the company is today. That may come later, but initially, they have a problem to solve. As Miller says throughout the book, keep in mind that your brand is not the hero in the story, the customer is.

Does Your Story Answer the Right Questions?

Within a few seconds of visiting a website, a customer should be able to answer three important questions: What do you offer? How will it make my life easier? What do I need to do to buy it? Every year, companies close their doors not because their product is bad, but because customers don’t know how that product will make their life better. In this day and age, competition comes from everywhere, and attention spans are short. You only have a few seconds to make an impact before someone clicks away to another website.

As Miller points out in the book, customers seek to solve three problems.

  • External: A physical barrier that causes frustration
  • Internal: Fears or motivations that spawn action
  • Philosophical: Why does this purchase matter to me and perhaps even society?

Let’s focus on the first two. External issues always rank highly for customers, but internal issues need to be solved, too. For example, consider the impact Apple had with their brand messaging. What’s the external problem? “I need a new computer.” However, when Steve Jobs and his product teams were crafting messaging, they were speaking to internal problems as well. Customers desired a simpler interface and wanted to feel comfortable using it, and their advertising spoke to that. Apple had positioned themselves to solve both external and internal issues at the same time.

Increasing customer engagement and providing solutions occurs when you are able to be a guide for them. Expressing empathy to build trust and demonstrating authority through testimonials and data help make a great first impression. Of course, once you’ve done this, customers need to know how to take that next step.

Putting Your Brand Message to the Test

How does your message work in action? Craft a one-liner that’s easy to recite and remember so everyone in your company is on the same page. Collect and tell stories of transformation that buyers can relate to. Build out a system that creates referrals, as the relationship doesn’t have to end with the sale, such as offering a reward for a future service or product for referrals. These are all steps that can be taken to communicate what your business is about.

Customers also need to be guided. You must include a call to action so a customer knows what to do next. How does a customer make his or her way through your sales funnel? Depending on the sophistication of your product, you can have a direct CTA button, such as “buy now” or you may need to educate first. Communications can include any of the following:

  • Free information (whitepaper or PDF)
  • Testimonials and case studies
  • Demos
  • Free trials

Supporting your message — consistently and comprehensively — is crucial to customer engagement and, ultimately, sales.

The more you address the problems your customers need to solve, the more they will feel a relationship with your brand. At Zer0 to 5ive, we are well-positioned to help define or refine your messaging and translate that into an effective strategy for growth.