Customers generally don’t care about your story; they care about their own

Learnings from the Lucidity Network Business Book Club

‘Building a Storybrand’ – This is not a book about telling your company’s story. A book like that would be a waste of time. Customers don’t generally care about your story; they care about their own.

Such was the overarching message of the Lucidity Business Book Club’s book of choice for the June meeting.

Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller teaches readers how to simplify a brand message so customers can understand and act on it, be that for websites, brochures or social media. Although it is clearly a book written for a corporate audience, do not assume this means its content is not relevant for other sectors. Whether you’re a charity, a business, public sector or even a global movement – no matter who you are or what you are trying to ‘sell’ there’s something useful for you within its 207 pages.

The book is packed full of useful insight and gives readers a seven-part framework to follow. There’s also a very helpful section at the back of the book that helps readers apply the principles to web design.

The Building a Story Brand seven-part framework:

  1. A character…
    The customer is the hero not your brand.
  2. .…has a problem…
    Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems but customers buy solutions to internal problems
  3. …and meets a guide…
    Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they’re looking for a guide
  4. …who gives them a plan…
    Customers trust a guide who has a plan
  5. …and calls them to action…
    Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action
  6. …that ends in a success…
    Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending
  7. …that helps them avoid failure.
    Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them.

Making your customer the hero of the story is easier said than done. A couple of our book club members said they felt a little overwhelmed with the recommendations in the book. Plus there was some debate among the book club members who work for charities about who should be the hero – the donor or the beneficiary. It depends on the type of fundraising and level of gift, said one, who suggested that perhaps the beneficiary should be the hero in low level asks and the donor in legacy and major gift fundraising. Another suggested that perhaps both should take on a leading role within a charity’s story, creating a loop that starts with the beneficiary and ends with the donor.

Likewise, there was discussion about the challenges of simplifying brands, particularly when an organisation has many products and services that offer many things to many people. However, as one reader pointed out if you focus on one message and communicate that successfully to a customer, and you’ll get plenty of other opportunities to talk about the other aspects of your work with them in the future.

Another message that hit home for one book club member was the need to have a clear and strong call to action. ‘If we sell passively, we communicate a lack of belief in our product’, Miller reminded us, telling us that we shouldn’t be shy but to make direct asks.

All in all, Lucidity Business Book Club members felt it was a useful book that was easy to read and digest. As one reader said, ‘I read in the bath as it’s the only place where there are no other distractions, and it didn’t require too many baths to finish it.’

Overall, there were three key takeaways for readers of Building a Storybrand:

  1. Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand.
  2. Keep it simple.
  3. Don’t be shy: make the ask.

Becky Slack
Becky is the lead for the Lucidity Network’s Business Book Club, a role she loves as it gives her an excuse to geek out on all the books she wants to read but would never normally get time to do so. When she’s not got her nose in a book, she can be found writing her own stories, starting conversations between interesting folk, or teaching people how to craft their own words that will inspire change and motivate action.

The Lucidity Network Business Book Club is one of the member benefits of the Lucidity Network. The Lucidity Network is a friendly professional community, that gives its members confidence to manage uncertainty, practical training, learning and development to improve everyday performance, as well as insight, inspiration and connection to help them stay resilient even on the toughest of days. 

The Lucidity Network is currently closed for new members while I focus on designing and delivering excellent new content. To be the first to know when the doors open again (as well as a regular dose of inspiration and practical tips to build your confidence to be more effective at work) join my weekly email. Sign up here.

Building a Storybrand: Clarify your message so customers will listen by Donald Miller is published by Harper Collins Leadership.

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