Everybody in the marketing world is talking about Donald Miller’s bestseller, “Building a StoryBrand.” But how can you apply the StoryBrand® process to franchises?

First, you need to understand the basic premise: Miller says if your messaging isn’t clear, customers will tune it out rather than try to decipher it. So, he relies on a familiar formula that tells a story starring your customer, with you offering a product or service that will dramatically improve that customer’s life.

Miller breaks down the formula into what he calls the StoryBrand 7 Framework:

1) You have a character/hero (2) who has a problem. (3) And he meets a guide (4) who gives him a plan (5) and calls him to action (6) that helps him avoid failure (7) and ends in success. “Star Wars” is a prime example of the hero’s journey storyline: Luke Skywalker is at war with the Dark Side, and he meets Yoda, who trains him to be a Jedi Knight and sends him to battle Darth Vader. He defeats the Dark Side, and the Universe survives.

Now, it is unlikely your franchise will need to save the universe in order to sell your product. However, franchises can use StoryBrand-inspired ideas to hone their consumer marketing plan. Here’s how:

Tell a Simple Story

The first step is to make sure that your brand is defined and your message is clearly articulated. The consumer should be able to understand how the product or service works and see him- or herself using it. For a personal fitness franchise, that means you must help your client understand how your gym or personal training services can help them become their ideal, healthy, heroic self.

Map Out a Plan

Especially for franchises who work with long-term contracts, you need to help a customer think past their immediate needs and show him what he can achieve if he follows your plan. A landscaping franchise can mow the grass today, of course. But the customer needs to be able to visualize the end of summer, when the shrubs you’re planting have filled in and the flowers you’re planting have bloomed. Then he will sign the contract, secure in knowing he can have the best-looking castle and lawn on the block.

Live Happily Ever After

Finally, you have to help the customer see the level of fulfillment that awaits them on the other side of the product or service delivery. Rather than focusing on food or even the simple act of eating, a restaurant franchise should depict quality time spent with family or the time spent making memories around the dinner table. In other words, make it all about the happy ending.

Bottom line: The StoryBrand formula can help you do what good marketing should always do –clarify your message to help you better connect with your customers/heroes.

This blog was written by Curious Jane and previously published on the blog of the International Franchise Association.

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