Many companies, whether small or large multinationals, sin of not having a clear message to convey to their potential customers. Clarify your company’s message is key to growing your business. 

Donald Miller, in his book, Building a Story-Brand, details the importance of having a clear message to impact potential customers from the very first moment.

Donald Miller, Clarify your message
Donald Miller (Source: Amazon)

At Discoverfy, we decided to try out some of Miller’s tips. Thus, we have started to analyze our message and we’re improving it, both on our website and in any marketing action.

That’s why in today’s post, we’ll review the key points highlighted by the author that can help you simplify your message so it can reach every corner.

An observation. The content of this article can be applied to any message you want to tell the world, whether in the business world or to your lifelong friend.

Let’s get to it!

How to clarify your company’s message

Before going into detail with the plan of how to clarify your message, we need to make an aside about how you should position yourself with respect to your potential customer. This point is key, as all the other changes will be of little use if the main transformation doesn’t happen.

Life is full of stories. Everything we explain, every anecdote we tell, every sale we make, is a story that contains a protagonist to whom something happens, and who finally manages to solve it or not. 

As in life, any message you want to convey in the business world must have the same structure. However, there are many companies that make the mistake of thinking that they’re the hero of these stories and that they’re going to save the princess. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Your potential customer MUST ALWAYS BE the HERO of the story. Your company MUST NEVER POSITION ITSELF as the hero of the story. If you do that, potential customers will perceive you as competition, far from your real goal of helping them. 

You may ask yourself, how else should I position my company but as the hero coming to save them?

Very simple. You must position your company as the GUIDE who comes to help the hero. This is key for potential customers to see you as a support to face their problem.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the plan.

Story-Brand framework in 7 steps

Donald Miller presents a 7-step outline to follow in order to clarify your message. The different steps are as follows:

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

Now, we will analyze each step individually.

1. A character

The main character is the most important figure in any story. Without them, a story cannot exist. Therefore, the first action you should take is to research to know your potential customer. 

Without knowing what your potential customer is like, any action you take will be in vain. You will spend time on marketing campaigns aimed at the wrong personas. That’s why the most important thing is to identify your potential customers. Know their demographics, their likes and dislikes, their motivations and their fears.

Once you have well-defined who you are targeting your message to, you can start creating the story around your hero.

2. With a problem

In all stories, the hero enjoys the calm of his life until something disturbs their situation. They then embark on an adventure to solve the problem so that they can return to the tranquility of their former life.

That the character has a problem and brands try to solve it’s textbook. However, what many brands overlook is that our hero doesn’t have a single problem, but three. An external problem, an internal problem, and a philosophical problem. 

The external problem is usually a tangible physical problem. The internal problem refers to the backstory about the frustration in the hero’s life. Finally, the philosophical problem has to do with something that is bigger than the story itself and revolves around the why. People want to participate in a story that is bigger than their own.

Miller gives us an example of the problems that a user who wants to buy a new car might have (positioning from the point of view of Tesla cars):

  • External: I need a car
  • Internal: I want to be an early adopter of a new technology.
  • Philosophical: My choice of car should contribute to saving the environment.

3. Meets a guide

This is perhaps the point you’ve been looking forward to the most. Yes, the time has come to introduce your brand to your potential customer. 

In movie stories, all heroes need the help of a guide in order to solve their problem. Think about it, if the hero could solve a problem without anyone to help him, there would be no problem at all, and therefore, there would be no story.

For that reason, you must position your company as the guide that helps the hero solve his problem. The guide of a story must communicate two qualities, empathy and authority.

Reflect empathy

A guide expresses an understanding of the hero’s pain and frustration. When you empathize with the problem a client has, you create a bond of trust. What people want most is to be seen, heard, and understood. This is the essence of empathy. 

Show authority

Some professionals argue that a company doesn’t have to show authority because people don’t like to be bossed around. However, this is not entirely true.

For example, how would you feel if you took your car to the mechanic because the engine light went on and he told you that the same thing happened to his car and he still hasn’t been able to fix it?

When we talk about authority, we’re really talking about competence. The guide doesn’t have to be perfect, but he does need to have considerable experience in helping other heroes solve the same problem.

4. That gives them a plan

If you only position yourself as a guide, the customer is not going to buy from you because you haven’t told him what to do yet. 

In all stories, the guide gives the hero a plan or some information or some steps to help him do what he sets out to do.

5. That calls them to action

People don’t do things for no reason, life doesn’t work that way. They need something or someone to come along and challenge them to do it. Without clear calls to action, people won’t engage with your brand. 

When you launch a call to action, you have to do it in a clear and direct way where you communicate the steps to take to overcome the obstacles and get back to the pleasant life your hero had before.

6. That results in success

This is where you have to make your customers dream. Describe how wonderful their lives will be after buying your product or service. In this life, everyone wants to go somewhere and your company must take them there. Otherwise, people will get involved with another brand. 

7. And helps them avoid failure

What makes a story interesting for the viewer is knowing what’s at stake. A story where the hero loses nothing if he fails is a story that is of no interest to anyone.

Likewise, if your customer has nothing at stake when it comes to buying your product, he won’t do so. That’s why we must make people realize the cost of not doing business with us. 

By following this simple outline you will be able to clarify your message so that people will listen to you. You will get rid of the noise and confusion that your current message may be transmitting and transform it into a message capable of reaching anywhere.

The Story-Brand on Discoverfy

At Discoverfy, reading this book by Donald Miller was a complete eye-opener for us. Previously, our message was a bit messy because we wanted to cover too much ground, and that confused people. Clarify our message has helped us improve a lot as a company.

By following the Story-Brand framework, we were able to drastically simplify our message as a company. Now, we use it every day in the emails we send to potential clients, in the pitches we make to investors, or in the articles we write in our blog. In addition, we keep updating our website with better copies and messages to make them as simple as possible.

Similarly, if you look at our Linked In posts, we use the structure given in the book a lot. In the case below, we start by making the protagonist of this story relate to some kind of problem. Then, we position ourselves as the guide and show them empathy stating that it has happened to us as well, while we give him some information about the topic. Later, we provide a plan and a call to action challenging him to not miss out on the article.

Clarify your message Linked In Post
Linked In Post Example

This is it for today’s post. We hope it has helped you clarify your message and get it across to people in a clear and direct way.

We truly recommend you to read this book because it’s sincerely worth it.

See you in the next post 🙂

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