As business owners, we know that we need to have a cohesive marketing message. If you haven’t done it before, you might have tried out a few suggestions from marketing gurus, but they just don’t feel right.

When we talk to our customers through our marketing materials — our website, our social media pages, etc. – they don’t understand exactly what we offer. Our salespeople can’t tell what sets our products apart from the competition. Worse, our message is muddled and we aren’t connected to a deeper sense of meaning. It’s frustrating.

I discovered a great book that can help guide us in the process of building a compelling message: Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand. After reading this book, it will be easier to find your voice and craft a message that resonates with your customers.

But first, why do we need to simplify our message?

Many businesses try to be all things to all people. When they want to be everything to everyone, they end up being nothing to no one. Their message gets lost in the noise.

When you’re trying to decide how to write your marketing messages, it helps to remember that simplicity is everything. As Donald Miller wrote, if you confuse, you lose.

The human brain is wired to find the easiest solution to any problem. When we are overloaded with unnecessary information (when our message is too complicated), our customers will tune us out. They won’t bother trying to understand what we’re offering them, and they’ll move to the next competitor with a better website.

There are two things the brain is always trying to do:

1. Survive and Thrive:

Our brain is a survival machine, constantly scanning our environment for information that will help us stay alive. We are on the constant lookout for ways to move ahead in life, whether it’s by

  • saving money,
  • gaining societal status,
  • associating with a tribe, and more.

Every person is trying to advance their life in a positive direction.

2. Conserve Calories:

The brain is an efficient organ, designed to tune out information that doesn’t help us survive and thrive. If our message can’t be easily associated with survival, our customers will tune out.

People only buy products only after they’ve read words that convince them to buy those products.

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How stories can help

Stories are a sense-making tool perfected by humans. We’ve been sharing stories for millennia to instruct, entertain, and persuade others.

The timeless stories have a clear structure that the audience can follow easily. This is what the StoryBrand framework is about: it’s based on the idea that every story has a hero, a guide, and a plan that leads to success.

  • The hero is the person – your customer – who is trying to reach a personal goal,
  • The guide is the one who helps them along the way, and
  • A call to action for a plan that will lead them to the state they want to achieve.

Following this pattern, your marketing message will be compelling, unforgettable, and easy to digest. Your customers will understand who you are, what your brand has to offer, and how you can help them.

Let’s look at this framework in detail.

The StoryBrand (SB7) framework

The SB7 framework has seven parts:

  1. A character
  2. who has a problem
  3. and meets a guide
  4. who has a plan
  5. and calls them to action
  6. that helps them avoid failure
  7. and ends in a success.

Let’s look at these principles more closely.

The character

You have to be clear about who your brand wants to help. Who is it that your business primarily serves? Define who your target audience is so you’ll have a more concrete idea of what they want and how you can help them.

Has a problem

What’s their top frustration? What’s keeping them from achieving their goal?

When we identify what’s frustrating them and put it into words, offer a resolution, and reassure them that we understand what they’re going through, we’ll pique their interest and they’ll keep reading.

But if we stop talking about the customer’s problems, we lose their interest.

And meets a guide

The hero needs a helpful guide to help them achieve their goal — and that’s your brand. Guides have faced the same problems before, and have gained wisdom along the way.

They can help the hero win the day by offering insights they’ve learned in hindsight.

Who has a plan

Your customer needs an easy, step-by-step plan to move forward, or they won’t move. This plan will bring them to where they want to be.

And calls them to action

Unless you call your customers to action, they won’t take action. The hero in your story has to act on the plan that you laid out. As the guide, you could motivate the hero, but you need to nudge them towards taking the first step.

That helps them avoid failure

Your customer would want to know what their life can look like if they use your products or services. It’s important to remind your hero what might happen if they fail to act on the plan that you have laid out to motivate them.

And ends in success


When you’re trying to figure out how to write your marketing message, aim for simplicity and clarity. Your customers will tune out if your message is too complicated.

Following the SB7 framework is a good way to craft a succinct message for your brand.

Always remember that you are the guide, not the main character. By positioning your brand as the guide, your marketing message will resonate well with your customers.

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