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StoryBrand SB7 Framework Principles

The SB7 Framework is a powerful storytelling tool that allows brand owners to create an emotional connection with their audience by focusing on the seven universal story points.  

The framework will help you identify your target customer, determine what your customers want most in their lives and why they need your product or service, and how to tell this story in the most compelling way possible.

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Communicating a clear story in your marketing messages is one of the best ways to deliver a compelling brand story. Being clear should always be a priority when crafting a marketing message.

 Even if you have the most emotionally moving story, if you are not clear with how you tell it, it wouldn't matter to your customers.  When you say your message clearly, you'll need just a few words to get your point through.

With these principles in mind, it's important to remember that there are no rules when it comes to creating great stories; only guidelines. These seven simple steps can be used as a guide for building stronger brands across all platforms of communication including social media marketing campaigns, website copywriting, promotional videos, and more. 

The SB7 Framework enables you to connect with potential customers on a more personal level by appealing to the hero inside them and by helping them survive, thrive, and have a happy ending.

StoryBrand Framework Principle One:

The Customer Is the Hero, Not Your Brand.

Almost every story begins with a hero that wants to achieve or overcome something. In this story, your brand is not the hero, your customer is. 

But don't worry, you still have a part in your customer's story. Since you are not the hero, you must aim to position your brand as the guide to your customers. We'll talk more about your role in a second. For now, let's focus on your customer - the hero in this story.

The human brain is hardwired to look for useful information that will help it survive and thrive. It automatically ignores things that make a lot of noise and confusion to conserve energy.

 In today's world, customers face countless amounts of ads and noise created by marketing on a daily basis. It's as if marketing has become a contest of who can scream louder.

Luckily, we have the tool to cut through the noise and make your marketing material more relatable and engaging to customers. In creating a story that resonates and engages the people you serve, you need to put them at the center of it all.

In stories, the hero always has a goal and there will always be challenges they have to face in order to get to that goal. You must be the one to help them overcome challenges and achieve success.

The goal of your brand at this point is to know who your customers are and to identify their needs as it relates to your brand. Knowing your customer is also a great way for you to know how you can effectively communicate with them.

As a brand, a good place to start is to think about the people you want to show up for. What are their needs? What stories do they tell themselves? What challenges are they facing that can be solved through your products and services? When you know who you're talking to, saying the right words becomes easier.

StoryBrand Framework Principle Two:

Companies Tend to Sell Solutions to External Problems, but Customers Buy Solutions to Internal Problems.

Part of identifying your customer's needs is knowing what problems they face. There are usually three levels to your customer's problems. These levels are External, Internal, and Philosophical Problems. Most products in the market offer solutions for external problems, but customers buy products or solutions that address their internal struggles. 

Problems in the story capture the attention of the reader. In the same way, solutions to problems your brand solves attract potential customers. Without a problem, the story we are telling would be a bore, and no one would pay attention. How then should you talk about your customers' problems?

One way of talking about a problem is by having a villain. This villain does not have to be a person, but it should have personified characteristics. Having personified characteristics makes the villain less alien and makes the problem more relatable. 

Let your customers know that the products and services you offer are weapons the hero can use to win against this villain. We can see this strategy being used in air freshener commercials as they package unpleasant odors as floating little monsters.

Most external problems actually cause internal discomfort in your customers. This discomfort leads to frustrations that become internal problems. The burden is now on your shoulders to know exactly what these external problems are and identify the internal frustrations they cause.

You can and will seek this information out because you want to serve your customers. Unlike other brands out there who just want to make a quick buck, you made the brave decision to start a business or a brand and show up to the people you want to serve. 

In this way, you will be able to reach your target market and speak to them about the solutions you offer for their internal struggles. This strategy is beneficial for your brand because customers buy solutions to their internal problems even without knowing it.

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StoryBrand Framework Principle Three:

Customers Aren’t Looking for Another Hero; They’re Looking for a Guide.

What do you look for when finding a guide? Do you look for someone who is so self-centered that they become the hero of other people's stories? Most likely, you'd be looking for someone with a history of helping others in the same situation as you. Someone who can help you reach your goals and pull you away from having a tragic ending.

Most businesses fail because they position themselves as the hero of the story and not the guide in their marketing messages. You must keep in mind that the story is no longer about you, it is now about your customers. At the end of the day, you must let the hero know how you are going to help them win.

In stories, the hero is often ill-equipped and filled with self-doubt. This is one reason they need you—the guide. As the guide, you need to be ready to help them with possible problems that might come up in their journey. You must be the one they can run to in the event that they need skills training or tools to face the adversary.


StoryBrand Framework Principle Four:

Customers Trust a Guide Who Has a Plan.

Now that you've positioned your brand as a guide, the customer now has a connection with you and it's time to convince them that doing business with you helps them avoid failure. At this point, the hero might still have doubts that hold them back from fully committing to your brand. 

This is normal and should be expected since the human brain weighs benefits and negative consequences before making a decision in order to survive. Entering into a commitment takes a lot from the hero as they might spend money on something that is uncertain. This is the reason why you need to let them know that you have a plan. You have to remove worries from the customer's journey and ease their mind.

Having a plan lifts the fog and reveals a clearer path to the journey ahead. You'll know that you have an effective plan if it answers the question of how people can do business with you, it lessens the worries of customers who are interested in doing business with you, or if it does both.

To further clarify your message to your customers and let them know how they can do business with your brand, you must present to them your process plan and agreement plan. The process plan should answer their questions about how they can start doing business with you. 

The agreement plan, on the other hand, is a list of agreements your brand makes with customers to alleviate worries and help them overcome their fears of doing business with you.

The last step you need to complete before presenting your plan is to give it a name. The name doesn't need to be clever, it has to be clear. It should at least give customers an idea of what the whole plan is about.

StoryBrand Framework ​Principle Five:

Customers Do Not Take Action Unless They Are Challenged to Take Action.

Most people view taking action as a daunting task. The fear of the unknown often prevents people from acting on their ideas or desires. In order to encourage customers to take a step into the unknown, businesses need a clear call to action that challenges them and provides them with a sense of urgency. 

Only then will customers be motivated to take the necessary steps towards achieving their goals. By understanding what motivates customers, businesses can engineer a targeted marketing message that inspires positive change.

The Storybrand SB7 framework uses two types of calls: direct calls and transitional calls. These steps are like levels in a relationship. A direct call is similar to asking someone the question "Will you marry me?" This call to action comes with a deeper commitment and not a lot of customers are ready for that.  This is where the transitional call comes in. 

Transitional calls  require less from the customers and often offer them something for free. This is similar to asking customers to go on another date with you. Transitional calls retain interested customers who are still not fully ready to do business with your brand.

Keep in mind that your call to action must be clear. Avoid using too many words as this might cause confusion. Always remember the saying "If you confuse, you lose."

StoryBrand Framework ​Principle Six:

Every Human Being Is Trying to Avoid a Tragic Ending.

Tragedy is a powerful tool for storytellers. It can leave an audience feeling deeply moved and emotionally impacted. But while tragedies can make for riveting stories, they are not something anyone actually wants to experience in their own lives. In fact, each and every one of us is trying to avoid failure.

Avoiding a tragic end is an important part in every story. If there is nothing at stake in a story, there is no story.  Your brand message must tell customers what you're helping them avoid or how doing business with you leads them away from failure. If customers don't know what they would gain from buying your product, they are not going to buy it.

StoryBrand Framework ​Principle Seven:

Never Assume People Understand How Your Brand Can Change Their Lives. Tell Them.

When you create a brand, you are creating an identity for your company that represents the values and characteristics that you want your customers to associate with your business. 

It is important to remember, however, that your brand is more than just a logo or a tagline—it is the embodiment of everything your company represents. As such, it should be communicated effectively to your target market in order to elicit the desired response. 

Too often, brand owners assume that people understand how their brand can change their lives without taking the time to tell them. This can lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities.

If you fail to tell customers where doing business with you will take them, they are likely to do business with another brand. Your goal should be to offer a vision that shows customers how much greater their lives would be after doing business with you.

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At ROI Online, we help brands of all sizes clarify their message and take their story in front of customers that need their product or service. It's your chance to grow your business by making meaningful connections. Schedule a storybrand workshop with us today and open your brand up to new possibilities.

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