This week, we’ll focus on how to build this framework. Our team follows the StoryBrand framework for messaging (check out the book “Building a Storybrand” by Donald Miller) and supplements with some additional steps to make sure the messaging is tested and consistent with customer feedback.
Again, for the purposes of this column, we will use financial advisors to demonstrate how this works in practice.
Building a messaging framework:
Think like a storyteller.
What do most stories have in common? One main character you can relate to, who is looking to achieve some kind of goal. The character runs into obstacles and challenges along the way. Oftentimes, this person has someone who shows up and helps them, a guide of sorts. The main character is who we empathize with; they are the hero of the story. When we think about messaging in business, the customer should be our main character, the central figure of the story.
Hone in on the character.
Determine your niche (your target or ideal client) and hone in on the details. Who are they? What do they care about? What do they like to do? Where do they spend their time? What are they motivated by? What frustrates them? What keeps them up at night? What do they want?
Identify a list of people who fit your ideal client profile and interview them, on the phone or in person. Ask questions, like “what does financial success mean to you?” and “what challenges have you found when meeting with financial advisors?” to get to the crux of what they want as it relates to your company's offering. Identifying themes and opportunities allows you to tailor how you position your company’s solution.
The goal here is to dig deep into the main character of your story and their obstacles (remember, you want to put the prospect at the center of your messaging, not you).
Let’s use the example of a financial advisor targeting individuals who want to match their professional successes financially. The character wants to build his or her long-term wealth to achieve their personal goals. Here are some things we learned about the target client:
- They are overwhelmed and exhausted.
- They desire a personal approach, and do not want to be just a number.
- They have a complicated lifestyle, with a lot of demands on their time.
- They want to feel like they’re working with an advisor who understands their unique situation.
- They want to receive a tailored approach.
Speak directly to these challenges front and center on your website, social media channels and sales collateral materials.
Act as a guide.
Leveraging the StoryBrand framework, think of your company as the Yoda for Luke Skywalker (your ideal client). Simplify your offering into no more than three steps, and position it as a plan. Your story’s hero can overcome their obstacles by executing that plan. This is where you can demonstrate a unique ability to help them with their specific challenges. Try to focus on the deliverables and outcomes for the client, as opposed to the internal processes your team follows.
In our financial adviser example, the plan could look like this:
- You talk, we listen.
- Together, we’ll build a customized plan.
- Relax, knowing your investments are in good hands.
Build a primary call to action.
Tell your main character what they need to do to make this a reality.
- Reach out for a free consultation .
- Download a helpful guide, sample financial plan.
- Register for a webinar.
- Sign up for our newsletter, etc.
Paint a picture of what success looks like — once the hero of your story pairs up with a guide (your company), follows your call to action and executes the plan.
Example: “Focus on doing what you do best: growing in your career and enjoying life with your family and friends. Your financial future is in good hands — take solace knowing that have a trusted partner who understands the complexities, will take action and keep you informed every step of the way.”
Test it out.
Use snippets you’ve heard from customers, paired with the pieces of your story (challenges, plan and call to action) on your website, social and other sales materials, and put it to the test to see if you get more visitors, responses or clicks.
Reach out to your current clients, share your messaging and ask for their thoughts. Constructive feedback will allow you to further refine your story. Oftentimes this additional engagement results in a referral or expansion of your business with clients, as they gain a clearer picture of who you are and what you can deliver.
An effective messaging framework, with your ideal client as the hero of the story, is a foundational building block that will inform your marketing, sales and communications. Especially if you operate in a competitive industry, messaging that speaks to your clients’ needs will help convey your business’ unique value proposition, fueling the growth of your business.