Sometimes you stumble into a theme in life where the common thread between events is incredibly obvious. It took a few days to unfold for me last week but each of a trio of experiences jumped out with clear connection to the subsequent events that brought the theme into focus.
During regular morning Bible reading, I came across Jesus’ parable of the House Built Upon Rock.
“Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what He is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”Luke 6:47-49 (ESV)
The message of Jesus’ parable sunk in and I pondered it’s meaning before going about my day. The story in Luke 6 resonated in such a way that I continued thinking about it for some time long after I had left my reading chair and gone to work. The simple message of doing things right; the contrast against the cost of cutting corners; the real and true meaning of building our life upon a foundation of faith in Christ and His eternal kingdom.
The next day my business partner, who also happens to be my better half in marriage, and I wind up reviewing a marketing book we had read; Building A Story Brand by Donald Miller.
“Story Brand” is a great book where Donald Miller describes how the fundamentals of a good story translate to branding a business. We’ve begun applying the Story Brand concepts in our own business with client branding work.
A main point of Story Brand is recognizing the elements of a good story including a main character/hero, with a problem, who meets a guide. The guide offers a plan which calls the hero to take action whereby the character/hero succeeds or fails.
A simple theme of Story Brand is to position your business as “the guide” and your prospective customers as the “main character/hero.” Many business leaders, marketers, sales people focus upon their products/services as the main character resulting in the customer losing interest and not hearing the whole story. By positioning the customer as “the hero” in your marketing and sales messaging, they become engaged in the message or story.
Donald Miller’s “Building A Story Brand” presents a solid approach to developing effective business marketing messaging.
Your Business Brand
While working with a client on their sales approach last week, I asked as I often do to role play with me being the customer. My instruction was “persuade me to spend time and attention on you.” I’ve had employees and clients go through this exercise with me literally hundreds of times before. This time felt different. I listened for where I, as the customer prospect, was in the discussion or “the story.” When or what happened that let me lose interest?
When the dialogue moved to anything other than helping me solve my problems, I start checking out; this was the ah ha moment of the week and inspiration for this blog post.
Back to the parable of The House Built Upon Rock. There are approximately 38 parables recorded in the Christian Bible. Jesus taught in the form of stories or parables nearly a third of His biblical teaching.
Jesus’ parables or stories draw us in; make us part of the message where we identify as a character with a problem who needs a guide and we don’t want to fail. Sound familiar?
Jesus knew the power of a story and how to relate to his listeners using parables. While having a good mission and source is the foundation, the story helps the listener understand such that they stay engaged and hear what He has to say.
I’m a character with a house who also wants to build my spiritual life such that I don’t lost my physical house nor fail in the eyes of God. My own nature and the world work against my goals. I want a house built upon rock and I want a guide to lead me to the eternal kingdom of God.
What a powerful tool we have in the story. Whether it is our spiritual walk or our business messaging, we benefit greatly by letting the story work to our benefit.
There is nothing new about probing for customer problems or pain points in sales messaging; no revelation in presenting solutions rather than spewing features and benefits when talking to customers. The big bang for me was how “the story” helps you to weave everything together for impact; branding, sales messaging, marketing materials, all tether to and create the story such that they engage the listener.
I felt this wave of clarity in finding talking points for the sales coaching client; the tension of writer’s block relaxed while developing marketing copy; increased focus in the review of our own brand positioning.
Looking at all of your business marketing and sales elements in the context of your story will help you with brand continuity and clarity. Your customers will keep listening to see how they overcome the adversity they face.
See the story unfold with your customer as the main character / hero and keep them engaged from cover to cover. You will have a better story to tell, your customer will want to hear the whole message where both your customer and your business win.