Book Review of Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller – written by Eddie Possehl
Donald Miller’s Building A StoryBrand is a great tool for companies who struggle to sell themselves to customers. Miller offers many ways to do this through simplicity, identifying/understanding your hero and making yourself needed. Miller goes over all of these topics and more in his book but I’ll be just giving my thoughts and opinions on these three in this book review of Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller.
Why am I giving my thoughts? Building A StoryBrand appeals to a very specific audience. Companies who are trying to bring in more customers through their branding and the way they present themselves. Being someone who is much younger than that audience but is still trying to start a company, I think it would be interesting for people to hear my thoughts and see just how generally applicable Building A StoryBrand can be for other audiences. So let’s dive in.
A topic that Miller goes over in Building A StoryBrand that I really enjoy its simplicity. The art of simplicity is, ironically, very complicated yet Miller seems to make it more understandable through methods like the “Grunt Test”. The test is pretty easy to understand; could a caveman wander onto your site, promotion, flyer and understand exactly what you’re promoting or selling in 10 seconds? Too many words often times bore people when they go to a product site.
Miller really drives home the fact that your buyer shouldn’t have to work a ton of brain cells to understand what you’re giving them and uses the analogy that your customer is working out in their brain when you’re explaining to them what you do. Like any human, after a certain amount of time working out, you grow tired and begin to not focus on specific things as well. You obviously don’t want this happening when you’re explaining your big pitch. Miller advises that short and sweet is the best direction when advertising. From the point of view of a customer, having advertising short and to the point helps me decide quick and easy whether I need the product or don’t.
Every story needs a hero. Miller states that if or when companies go wrong, it’s usually when defining the hero on their website. When building a story on your site you need to show off your hero and most companies paint themselves as the hero. In the story on your website, your hero needs to be the customer. As a customer myself this is understandable. If I am the hero, then this is my journey and if I’m going along a path and see another hero I’ll stop and say hi but I won’t stay because I have my own things to do. Miller uses the example here that you are the hero’s guide, the Yoda to their Luke Skywalker.
The customer is on their own journey and they just need to know if you can supply them with items or information they need to continue on that journey. You’re the Yoda. Stories need to have a relatable hero in order for the audience to be intrigued and want to keep watching. What’s a better relatable character than yourself? It’ll have customers intrigued by your product quickly, which you want. Remember, trying to understand your product shouldn’t break a sweat. This piece of advice and Miller’s analogy about Luke and Yoda really helped me understand with a new perspective on how to get a customer intrigued by your brand.
The Art of Needing
Being intrigued obviously isn’t enough to sell your product. You want the customer to buy your product! Miller explains how to do this by bringing up the word “need” when it comes to your product. The customer, on their hero’s journey, should feel like they need your product or services in order to continue on their journey. In my own terms, you need to be the Master Sword that Link must obtain to beat Ganon, the hammer that Thor needs to take down the villain of the week, the dress a supermodel needs to win a fashion show, for example.
If your customer doesn’t feel like they need your product they’ll probably look at it and say, “Hmmm, I COULD use that. But it’s not essential” when they could be saying, “Woah, this will help me get what I want. I NEED this.” Miller’s words really help this make sense for me. I have never considered my train of thought when buying a product regarding whether I think I need it or not. If I see a product I think I need I’ll be more inclined to buy that product because I’m convinced the product is essential to completing my journey. If I only want a product, I will consider buying it but will most likely not want to waste my money.
7 Part Framework (with examples):
*ANOTHER PICTURE HERE*
You are a manager at a company that has tasked you with growing your sales. You have a marketing budget which must yield a positive ROI as well as return on time investment. You’ve heard the experts saying “do video” and you are known to be the guy who takes action and finds tactics that are working in other companies or industries – and adapting to your company’s needs to find growth.
You have a million options for doing so – and know your job depends on you taking action. You want to make a promotional video for your company to expand your brand and connect with your customers more.
Has a Problem
The problem is you’ve heard all about the benefits of a video but don’t know where to start. What goes into making a video? What makes for a video that gets results and one that flops? What happens if you invest resources into a local “videographer” who then makes you look horrible or results in a horrible experience? How do you find the right video production partner?
Meets a Guide
We’ve helped numerous people just like you to find success. We have years of experience and client referrals – showing that regardless of where you are at – you to can get great videos that help your organization.
Who Gives Them a Plan
We have a proven 7 Step Plan that guides our customers from that initial contract through to final delivery of their amazing video. Even if it is your first time making a video, you will know exactly where we are at in the process and rest easy knowing no step goes unchecked.
And Calls Them to Action
We give you a quote on how much we think your video would cost to make and let you know what we would plan to do to make the amazing production video you’ve been dreaming of come to life!
That Helps Them Avoid Failure
You now have a choice: make a video with us that looks professional and gets your message across clearly, or hire an inexperienced videographer who doesn’t get your message across and makes your video look bland. Have us make your video to ensure success or take a chance on someone who could bring failure.
And Ends in Success
You choose us to make your video and it comes out great! You’re satisfied with your new promotional video and everyone’s happy with the work you’ve got done and you now have a relationship with us and know you can come to us for amazing videos in the future.
Building A StoryBrand offers a multitude of ideas through its framework to help you build your brand and create great promotions to draw customers to your content. I love many of the ideas Miller mentions in the book but I do disagree with one of them.
I’m not the biggest fan of the “That Helps Them Avoid Failure” part of the framework. I think that it’s very difficult to ensure success unless you know how successful you are in your field and have previous successes. If you have a website where you just promise that you can make good content but have nothing to show for it, the customer may have a hard time putting their trust in you right away.
Overall though, I really enjoy Donald Miller’s Building A StoryBrand and what it has to offer to the world of marketing. In the book, Miller goes into depth on all of the 7 steps of the framework down to the fine print of what you can do to improve your product marketing and I would recommend the book to be purchased by anyone in an industry where they need to sell a product. It is incredibly helpful and will improve your brand marketing tenfold.
To wrap things up, Donald Miller’s Building A Storybrand is incredibly helpful for anyone who wants to start a business, is struggling to get one on the ground, is working for one, or even is up and off the ground but want to succeed with more sales. Honestly, the only group of people I wouldn’t recommend Building A Storybrand to is anyone who doesn’t work somewhere that doesn’t sell anything or aren’t in a position where they may need to sell something to a customer. Let’s say you work as a stocker at your local grocery store. You may think you don’t need this. Wrong. Listening and taking ideas from Building A Storybrand into your job and using them whenever a customer has a question will help you do your job much better than you did before.
If you work in a job where you work in the back and don’t do any customer service, Building A Storybrand may not be for you but still may be very informative! If you work in any position where you may run a company or work in customer service for a company, this will help you do your job and increase your sales more than you could imagine you could before listening to Building A Storybrand. I learned much more than I expected to and plan to use all of the points he makes here to expand my company. I only focused on mainly three of the ideas Miller puts into Building A StoryBrand and if you want to hear him go in depth with all of the rest of the ideas make sure to purchase the book and give it a listen for yourself.
If you want to hear it all, you can go purchase Building A Storybrand on the website: www.storybrand.com
My name is Eddie Possehl. I’m a filmmaker based in Shoreview, Minnesota. I have a YouTube channel where my friends and I create all sorts of fun content for people to enjoy such as vlogs, short films, live streams, video essays and much more. You can subscribe to my channel at YouTube.com/user/EarthCore0 to enjoy that content if you’d like.
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