How to create a story for your brand that keeps customers engaged

by | General

Did you know that since 2009 Americans have spent over $10 billion dollars at the box office each year? That’s billion with a “B”.

That’s a pretty interesting statistic considering that we’re re-hashing the same old stories and attention spans are shrinking so why will people happily devote upwards of 90 minutes to a movie?

It’s because as humans we love a great story.

I haven’t found an exception to that rule yet. We love stories.

We love good stories. [note: and maybe some bad stories – I’m referencing Cuba Gooding Jr.’s career over the last 10 years here just so we’re clear]

The really interesting thing is that we can use this same idea when it comes to our brands and the way we connect with our audience and customers.

What I’m about to share with you is something I learned from Donald Miller over at StoryBrand.com where you can actually signup and get a story worksheet for your own brand if you feel so inclined.

Ok let’s get to it – here’s how to create a story for your brand that keeps customers engaged.

Your brand’s story has a hero, but it isn’t you

Like any good story, your brand’s story needs a hero. Brace yourself though, the hero in this story isn’t your brand.

Every good story has a hero and the hero always wants something they don’t have or cannot have. Whether it’s an internal problem, an external problem, a task that needs completing, acquiring an object or gaining someone’s affection, the goal is always clear and specific.

The pursuit of this goal/object/affection eventually forces the hero outside of their comfort zone but it’s necessary for the hero to grow as a person in order to achieve victory.

Think Rocky’s training montages, and even Simba in the Lion King being exiled and returning.

via GIPHY. I laugh out loud every time I see this gif, sorry.

In this context, it becomes clear that the hero in your brand’s story isn’t your brand, it’s your customer.

As humans, we’re wired for survival and our view of the world and events is seen through our own individual lens and experiences. We naturally put ourselves in the center of our stories because everything we experience is from our own point of view.

Your customer is no different. They have something they need or something they’re trying to accomplish which makes them the hero of the story.

When you position your brand or product as the hero in your marketing you subconsciously turn the customer off because in their mind, it’s their story and they’re the hero.

It’s at this point in the customer’s story where your brand is introduced, stage left.

So if customers aren’t looking for a hero, what are they looking for?

If customers are already the hero, what the heck are they looking for?

Their Yoda, of course.

Eventually, all heroes meet a guide. Someone who shows the hero the answer to their problems and how to achieve it.

You need to be your customer’s Rafiki, Yoda and their Mickey Goldmill. Without the guide, the hero is stuck.

Remember that Yoda doesn’t destroy the Death Star and Rafiki doesn’t bring down Scar, the hero does. You can’t fight your customer’s battles for them but you can give them the tools and knowledge necessary to win the day.

You need to position your brand as the Guide.

How to position your brand as the Guide

The guide is always someone who understands the hero and the situation they’re stuck in. As a brand, the content you put out should do the following:

  • empathize with your customer and their situation
  • demonstrate your authority and knowledge of the pain point they’re experiencing

Let’s go through these and break them down step by step and what it means for your brand.

Express Empathy

As people, we’re wired to trust others who understand us. It makes us feel connected to have a common struggle.

That’s why it’s important for customers to feel that your brand understands their problems and frustrations. It creates and reinforces a bond of trust.

You’ve probably heard the following line before: “the three things every human being wants most are to be seen, heard, and understood.” That’s empathy.

Use phrases similar to:

  • We understand how it feels to…
  • Nobody should have to experience…
  • Like you, we’re frustrated by…

Demonstrate Authority

You wouldn’t take financial advice from someone who is worse off than you are, would you? No, you would find someone with knowledge, experience and authority in the financial world. Someone who has been where you are and has moved forward.

Likewise, your customers are looking for someone who can help them get from point A to point B with a proven track record.

A word of caution here though, it’s important to keep the focus on the hero. Demonstrating authority can quickly turn into your brand being positioned as the hero which isn’t what you want.

A great way to avoid coming off as arrogant or cocky when demonstrating authority is to use things like:

  • testimonials from other customers who have experienced success working with your brand
  • hard numbers and statistics
  • awards you’ve won

All 3 of these tools are great at demonstrating authority without coming off as your brand bragging about itself. Let others sing your praises.

Final thoughts

Remember, there are really 2 questions potential customers are asking themselves:

  • Does this brand understand me?
  • Does this brand know what they’re doing?

If you can demonstrate the answer to those questions in the content your brand is putting out then you’re successfully positioning your brand as the guide and creating a story that keeps customers engaged.

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