StoryBrand 101: Attract Startup Customers
Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey of establishing a startup is both exhilarating and daunting. Among the myriad challenges startups face, acquiring and retaining customers remains paramount. To help navigate this challenge, a unique approach called the StoryBrand Framework, developed by Donald Miller, has emerged as a compelling solution. This framework harnesses the power of storytelling to create and clarify a company’s messaging, offering a potential game-changer for startups striving to attract and engage early customers.
Breaking Down the StoryBrand Framework
Before we delve into how startups can leverage the StoryBrand Framework, let’s dissect its components to understand its fundamental premise. The StoryBrand Framework, also known as the SB7, is based on the archetypal structure of storytelling, suggesting that effective messaging should resemble a well-crafted story.
- A Character: This is your customer, the hero of the story, complete with desires, needs, or aspirations. It’s crucial to remember that in this narrative, your customer is the protagonist, not your startup.
- Has a Problem: Every engaging story revolves around a conflict or problem that the hero needs to overcome. For your customers, this problem could be external (a tangible issue), internal (emotional turmoil related to the issue), or philosophical (a bigger-picture issue at stake).
- And Meets a Guide: This is where you, the startup, make your entrance. You are the guide who empathizes with the customer’s problem and has the expertise and resources to help them overcome it.
- Who Gives Them a Plan: As a guide, you provide a clear, actionable plan to help your customers solve their problem. This plan must be easy to follow, eliminating any confusion or uncertainty for the customer.
- And Calls Them to Action: You must then motivate your customers to take action, to engage with your product or service in a way that will help them overcome their problem.
- That Helps Them Avoid Failure: This step is about painting a vivid picture of what’s at stake if the customer doesn’t take action. What negative outcomes can they avoid by using your solution?
- And Ends in a Success: This is your opportunity to define the vision of success that your product or service will help your customers achieve. This success story should be so compelling that it motivates customers to take action.
Applying the StoryBrand Framework to Startups: A Comprehensive Guide
With a clear understanding of the StoryBrand Framework, let’s explore how startups can effectively employ it to acquire their early customers.
1. Understanding Your Customer as a Character
The first step in crafting your brand story is to gain a deep understanding of your customer. Who are they, and what do they desire? What are their frustrations, and what values drive their actions? Remember, your customer is the protagonist, the hero of the story, and your startup plays the role of the guide. Understanding this dynamic is crucial for effective storytelling.
For instance, suppose you’re a tech startup offering a new project management tool. Your customers might be project managers desiring to improve efficiency, reduce errors, and enhance team collaboration. By understanding these desires, you can craft a message that resonates deeply with them.
2. Articulating the Problem
Once you understand your customer and their desires, the next step is to clearly define the problem they face. This problem should be one that your product or service is designed to solve, but the focus at this stage is on empathizing with your customer’s struggle, not promoting your solution.
Are your customers, the project managers, wasting too much time on inefficient processes? Do they struggle with keeping team tasks coordinated? By articulating these problems, you establish a strong connection with your customers. You’re showing that you understand their challenges and that you care about helping them overcome these difficulties.
3. Positioning Your Startup as the Guide
With the customer’s problem clearly defined and empathized with, it’s time to introduce your startup as the guide in their story. This is your opportunity to build trust with your customer by showcasing your brand’s expertise, experience, and reliability.
You want to convince your customers that you not only understand their struggles, but that you also have the knowledge, resources, and commitment to help them overcome these challenges. Remember, in the story, you’re not the hero; you’re the wise, experienced mentor that assists the hero on their journey.
4. Providing a Clear Plan
After building trust with your customers and establishing yourself as a knowledgeable guide, the next step is to present a clear, simple plan to solve their problem. This plan should be easily understood and actionable.
For a software startup, this could be as straightforward as a three-step process: sign up for a free trial, import your team’s projects, and start managing your tasks more efficiently. The simpler and more direct the plan, the more likely your customer will be to take action.
5. Motivating a Call to Action
The next step in the StoryBrand framework is to encourage your customer to take action. This could take several forms, such as signing up for a newsletter, scheduling a consultation, or starting a free trial of your product.
A successful call-to-action is clear, concise, and compelling. It should use action-oriented language and clearly articulate the benefits of taking action. In the case of our project management tool example, you might say, “Start your free trial today and transform your team’s productivity.”
6. Highlighting the Stakes
The sixth step in the framework is about painting a vivid picture of what’s at stake if your customers don’t take action. What will they lose? What negative consequences will they face?
In the context of our project management tool example, you might underscore the cost of wasted time, the risk of missed deadlines, or the potential lost opportunities for growth. This step isn’t about fear mongering; rather, it’s about painting a realistic picture of the potential drawbacks of inaction, which emphasizes the urgency and importance of the problem at hand.
7. Illustrating the Success Story
The final step in the StoryBrand Framework is to define and illustrate the success that your customers can achieve with your solution. This is your opportunity to paint a compelling picture of how your product or service can transform their lives or businesses.
For the project management tool, you might speak about the peace of mind that comes with knowing every task is under control, the joy of witnessing increased team collaboration, or the exhilarating growth your customers could experience with more efficient project management.
The Impact of the StoryBrand Framework on Customer Acquisition and Retention
By leveraging the StoryBrand Framework, you create a compelling narrative around your startup. You demonstrate to your customers that you understand their problems, that you have a solution, and that you can guide them to success. This narrative, grounded in empathy and understanding, is likely to resonate with your customers on a deep level.
When customers feel understood and see a clear path to solving their problems, they’re more likely to engage with your brand. This doesn’t just facilitate customer acquisition; it also aids in customer retention. A well-executed StoryBrand strategy doesn’t just inform customers about your product; it makes them feel a part of a story. And when customers feel like they’re part of a story, they’re more likely to stick around to see how it ends.
In conclusion, the StoryBrand Framework is a potent toolfor startups looking to acquire early customers. It offers a structured, narrative-driven strategy for conveying your brand message and compelling your target audience to engage with your product or service. As you embark on your startup journey, harnessing the power of storytelling can be a significant factor in setting your brand apart in a crowded marketplace.
By providing your audience with a compelling story?one where they are the hero, and your product or service is the guide?you establish a deeper, more meaningful connection with your audience. This connection is what ultimately drives customers to choose your brand, use your products or services, and stay loyal over time. Therefore, understanding and applying the StoryBrand Framework can be instrumental in your startup’s journey towards achieving sustainable growth and success.
If you’d like to investigate further, here are some examples of Websites using the StoryBrand framework. Knowlo also successfully used the StoryBrand framework to design a high converting landing page.