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ABL Book of the Month | Building a Story Brand

Welcome to our new series, the ABL Book of the Month! Cue the confetti and cheering. Every month we will be sharing with you a book that we love and have found to be impactful. It’s our hope that each book presents a source of inspiration, reflection, or a tool that you can use positively in your life.  

In our last ABL article, we went through the four main steps of crafting your very own elevator pitch. Pause and read that if you missed it. It’s a good one to help you prepare for all those family gatherings on the horizon where you know the first thing people will ask is, “what do you do?” If you go through the exercise of creating your pitch, you’ll notice something very interesting about the end results. The pitch isn’t so much about you as it is about highlighting the people you help. Enter, Donald Miller. 

You’ve got your foot through the door with your pitch. Now, how do you get people to stay and believe in your work? That is with the story you tell. Again, the story isn’t about you. You are not the hero (am I the only one who said that in the Maury announcer voice?). The hero is your client. We often fall under the illusion that people are constantly thinking about us. However, the reality is that people are usually thinking and processing the world through the perspective of themselves. 

Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand is a must-read for understanding the importance of shifting the lens you use to market your business. He narrows down the necessary elements of a compelling story into seven key points: 

Image from Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. Image from Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller.

Donald calls this the SB7 Framework, which he created after studying countless movies, novels, plays, and musicals from various genres and his personal experiences in writing eight books and a nationally released screenplay. With this story brand framework in mind, you’ll never watch another movie in the same way again.  

1 – A Character

Your client is the hero, not your brand. Your brand comes into the picture as the guide who helps your customers overcome their challenges. Simply put, think of yourself as the Yoda to the Luke Skywalkers that are your clients.  

2 – Has a Problem

It isn’t external problems that motivate clients to seek you out. It’s solutions to internal problems. When you talk about the underlying issues clients face, you deepen their interest in what you have to offer.

3 – And Meets a Guide

Your client isn’t looking for another hero to compete with. The client is the protagonist of their world, and if you come in and start sharing how great you are, it’s a conflict of protagonists. You close the door on entering their world unless you demonstrate how you’re a guide coming in to help their life, not replace them as the star. 

 4 – Who Gives Them a Plan

How do you show you’re a trustworthy guide? It’s by having a plan. This plan of action outlines a clear, direct path to doing business with you and are the steps the hero needs to take to get the job done. Such as Yoda telling Luke to trust the force before training him on how to wield that power. 

5 – And Calls Them to Action

Clients (and people in general) don’t take action unless challenged to do so. This is why calls to action play a powerful role in your story. Clients are looking for a clear, obvious call to action to show which path to take to have their problem solved. They want an A to B solution, not the entire alphabet.

6 – That Helps Them Avoid Failure

What is at stake if the client does or doesn’t buy your product or service? What is the negativity you are helping them avoid? Label it and put it out there. There is nothing more motivating to a client than the fear of possible failure.  

7 – And Ends in a Success 

Never assume the client understands how your brand can change their lives. You must tell them. Where will the client end up if they do business with you?

The book takes you deep into each of the seven layers to really hone your understanding of the framework. Once you emerge, it becomes clear what a serious game changer this is. Soon you will see threads of these components everywhere you look.  

You’ll read the messaging on your website and feel an uncomfortable twinge as you realize there is about you instead of the client. You’ll feel the weight of the bulky chunks of text that can quickly confuse clients instead of calling them to action and it’s as if a lightbulb goes off every time something catches your eyes. You might say it’s a very illuminating realization for all parties involved. 

Have you read Building a Story Brand, or will you be picking it up? We’d love to hear from you! 


Written by Harleen Bola