What does your marketing message and a blockbuster movie have in common?

Websites are where potential customers come to ‘window shop’ your business. They check out what you do and what makes you so good at it. But there’s a fine line between ensuring your business stands out, and overloading people with content about how amazing we are. 

Unfortunately, many business websites fall into the latter, which isn’t actually the best way to convert a customer.  

Imagine if your website was you, in a meeting with a client – them sitting across the table from you. They are already there because they are pretty sure you offer what they are looking for. So would you still blurt out a list of things you’re really good at and why people should always choose you over every other business out there? 

Probably not. 

You’re more likely to ask questions, make sure you understand what their needs were, and then respond specifically to those points, referring to how you could help.   

Your ‘blockbuster movie’ marketing story

A few years back I read a book called ‘Building a Story Brand’ by Donald Miller. He referred to seven steps to work through in order to find the most effective marketing message for a business and the interesting comparison he made was that every blockbuster movie has seven essential elements when it comes to the story they tell.  

(I highly recommend the book if you love business and/or marketing books).  

So, absolutely buzzing, I got to work on the seven steps – implementing them on our own website. It just so happened we had already made the move from a 65 page website to one that was four pages and a blog, because we had already realised our website was far too noisy!

And you may not believe it, but the results were almost instantaneous. After just 48 hours our conversions tripled, and the quality of the leads coming through were also of a high standard. Of course, we absolutely rate Miller’s seven step model and always use it with clients who are wanting a content strategy. What also makes it great is that it works with every type of business and nicely aligns with my value of ensuring the customer is always at the heart of the business.  

Where to begin with your marketing story 

In a recent MAP IT Marketing podcast, I had Joel Woolley join me, who became New Zealand’s first accredited Storybrand coach in 2019. Joel had been a web designer but grew increasingly frustrated with the content he was given, knowing that it wasn’t going to be effective in creating sales for the business. 

Joel was able to help break down the seven steps, and began by explaining why it is so important to do this – because it’s imperative to clearly stand out from our competition. 

“Your customer is bombarded with over 5000 commercial messages per day. And so their brain is having to filter through all of this information just to understand what is going to be relevant to them.”   

So in order to do that, it’s crucial to focus on who the customer is, and what they need from us. And for small businesses, this is hard! We don’t want to ‘niche’ our offering, because we want to try and reach every potential customer we possibly can! But, by taking this approach, we end up not standing out in a very busy world. 

Which means, we need to be brave. And make the tough calls to truly understand who our ideal client is. If you miss doing this right at the start, your marketing copy will just end up being about you, rather than focusing on who it is you should be selling directly to. 

Right, got that sorted? Here’s the seven steps of the Storybrand framework.  

  1. Define the HERO. 

Every blockbuster movie needs a hero. And every successful business has an ideal client. Your ‘hero’ client should look very similar to those who have been your best, past and present, customers. 

Joel says quite often we as business owners make the mistake of wanting to be the hero, but it’s actually the customer who is, and our websites should be talking directly to them.” 

For us, we knew our heroes were those who had a real growth mentality, and who also wanted to know how to do things for themselves. 

  1. Define their problem

All heroes, no matter how strong or superior they are, have an achilles heel, and that’s where you come in. To save the day by identifying the problem that you as a business are perfectly equipped to solve. 

No matter what they need – whether it be fresh water, office equipment or knowledgeable advice – even if you provide a wide range of products and/or services, hone in on that core problem of your ideal client. 

  1. Identify yourself as a GUIDE.

Don’t sell, guide. This is about helping the hero move towards success (or solving their problem). But in order for the hero to trust a guide, foundations of trust need to be established. You, as the guide, need to show empathy for the problem and also the authority to solve it. 

Joel explains, “The guide has usually encountered this problem themselves and has come out the other side of it. So they have empathy for the hero’s plight.” 

So you might say something like ‘we know how hard it is to do (the thing you do)’ or ‘yes, we’ve struggled with this as well!’

Empathy goes a long way, but it does need to be backed up by authority. Because when we are able to prove that we have had success in solving this problem before, for others, the hero is more likely to trust us. 

“A good way to prove your authority is with great reviews and showing happy customers, along with my proven process,” shares Joel. “A lot of people get stuck on one or the other, but you do need both to build trust.” 

But Jack knows that the ‘social proof’ and authority message is quite difficult for New Zealand business owners, because we’re typically taught to not ourselves, or talk about our merits. This ‘fear’ of coming across as an authority means we tend to minimise it and focus only on the empathy side of what we do.

  1. Provide a clear map

Building trust is made easier when we are able to show people a clear path of how you will get them to where they want to be. So sharing a three or four step process with your prospective hero, around what they can expect from working with you, will help to alleviate any concerns of the unknown. 

Try to keep it as simple and clear as possible, with real deliverables included – rather than it being too aspirational and ambiguous.  

  1. Make sure you have a clear call to action (CTA)

I’m happy to put my hand up and say I am often one of those business owners who tend to minimise our authority. Which is why I found having a clear call to action quite challenging. 

Our website has a contact form embedded at the top of the page, and our CTA is aimed right at our ideal hero customers. And when we moved it there, we saw an immediate increase in the number of enquiries. (We also have six more across the home page). 

Joel explains, “You don’t want your CTA to be passive. And you’ll get better quality leads because they are ready to take action.” 

So go on, move it! And see what results you get.  

  1. Highlight the cost of not working with you

I’ll admit, I struggled with this step. A lot. I didn’t want to create a negative message on our website. But Joel says it’s important to define what’s at stake if someone doesn’t work with you – what could their life look like? 

Place this message after your initial CTA copy, your map and your CTA button. This will help people to consciously reflect on what they could miss out on by not choosing you and your business.  

  1. Top it off with success

Thankfully, you can still finish off with a positive. Because while the cost of not working with you is a powerful message to get across, so is highlighting what they will get if they choose to buy from you.

“What could your life look like if you did work with us? What might be possible if you do buy this product from us?” These are two key questions Joel suggests you ask in your copy.  

Joel also recommends that step six and seven are shared at the bottom of your home page, as a final last ditch CTA and to help ‘move’ any of the leads who may have fallen through the cracks initially. 

So, where do we end up? 

After working through those seven steps, you’ll be better equipped to tell a story to your ideal client (your hero). It’s important to keep the message simple, and use as few words as possible. 

Joel says it should be easy to understand, because if it’s hard to work out who the hero is, then prospective customers will just leave your website without taking any action. 

“If I don’t know that I’m the hero and that you’re able to solve my specific problem, you’re going to make my brain work too hard.” 

Then, after your website copy is finished (i.e. the script for your blockbuster movie), you can use this same brand messaging throughout all your social media platforms. It will help attract the right clients and be converted as your ideal hero. 

Your mission this week, if you choose to accept it, is to take a look at your website with your ‘objective eyes’ on, and ask yourself honestly ‘Am I speaking directly to the hero of my business? And how am I clearly showing them how my business can be their guide to the solution?’ 

I’d love to hear how you get on and whether these seven steps helped your business clarify its marketing message.

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