Book Summary:
Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

🛍️ Buy this book on Amazon (Audible, Kindle, or paperback):

😋 Thanks! By buying books through my affiliate link, you’re supporting my work (and my Spotify subscription).

🗒 Note: My notes are a mix of key ideas and quotes from the book as well as my own thoughts.

Since we were kids, we were used to appreciating and listening to stories. That’s why businesses that harness the power of stories improve their chances of success.

The basic structure of a story – “The character desires something, but that something is hard to get. That’s the problem. When the character is on the verge of giving up, a guide appears. This guide provides a plan and calls the character to take action. The character then avoids failure and manages to get that something they initially desired.”

No matter how fancy your website or social media is, if readers can’t immediately understand who you are, what you’re here to do, and why a customer should choose you instead of someone else, you’ll struggle to get new clients.

The SB7 system breaks this structure into a template that can fit any business. Here’s the system:
[You can fill in the story template on I do it by myself for every client I work with]

🦸 A character (hero) has a problem (villain) and meets a guide
who gives them a plan and calls them to action
that ends in success and helps them avoid failure

Show them how great their life will look after they have product

⬜ A character (hero) — the hero of your brand’s story isn’t you. It’s your customer. Your brand is the guide who helps the hero overcome the challenge and get what they want. Define what the hero wants the most. One main desire.

🌹 I think this is the most important lesson from this book. And probably the most important marketing lesson I’ve ever learned.

⬜ Has a problem (villain) — by speaking about your customer’s problem, you’ll make them feel understood. So make sure to cast their problem as the villain you’ll help them overcome.

📐 There are three types of problems:

External (what is the problem?)
gasoline → Tesla  hunger → Snickers  |  a creative block → The Creative Marketer

Internal (how does the problem make your customer feel?)
afraid → Tesla  |  confused or angry → Snickers  |  frustrated → The Creative Marketer

Philosophical (why is it wrong for your customer to be burdened by this problem?)
Because everyone deserves to make a living from their creative passion → The Creative Marketer

🎥 Brands often speak only about the external. A house painter, for example, sells an external service. But if the product is external, the internal problems are still crucial. How do people feel when their house is not painted? Probably ashamed and lonely because they don’t feel comfortable inviting guests. It’s important to have only one problem. Stories are best when they’re simple.

Note: in movies, when these three problems are solved, people cry.

⬜ And meets a guide — at this step, show that your brand (the guide) has two characteristics, empathy and authority.

🦮 Empathy – what statement can express empathy and understanding?
Gary Vee is the king of empathy. He always shows his audience that he started from the bottom, too and that he understands how they feel.
Authority – how can you demonstrate your competency in solving your customer’s problem?
For example, testimonials, awards, stats, etc.

⬜ Who gives them a plan — the plan consists of a clear process of their journey and an “agreement plan” that helps them feel safe.

🥅 Process – what are three or four steps for customers to lead them to their goal?

🧑‍🏫 Example: on your storage-system website, you might give these instructions:

  1. Measure your space
  2. Order parts that match your space’s measurements
  3. Install the system yourself with basic tools in only a few minutes
Agreement plan – list the agreements you can make with your customers to alleviate their fears of doing business with you. Show them they won’t be there alone.

🤝 Examples:

30-day free trial

Free returns

24/7 chat support

⬜ And calls them to action — there are two types of CTAs. Direct – the thing you want them to do the most (usually buy), and transitional, in case they’re not ready for the main action.

📣 Examples:
Direct – buy now, start your free trial, book a demo, etc.
Transitional – follow us on Twitter, read our free e-book, join the webinar, etc.
Go from transitional to direct to transitional again until you hear YES.

⬜ That ends in success and helps them avoid failure — people want to avoid pain. To have them take action, they should be aware of the risks of not taking action.
Example: The cost of not having business with us.

➕ List the positive changes your customers will experience if they use your product or service      ➖ List all the negative consequences customers will experience if they don’t use your product

⬜ Show them how great a transformation their life can have with your product — most stories have a happy ending. We see how the status quo has changed, and the hero is not transformed into a new reality. Define the customer’s inspirational identity: who does the customer want to transform into?

🦋 Examples of transformation:

  • The character acquires a position of power. Their social status improves.
    • Example: buying Balenciaga shoes
  • The character reunifies with something or someone that makes him whole.
    • Example: buying flight tickets to go him and visit your family
  • Experience self-realization that makes them whole.
    • Example: going on a yoga retreat

📚 The three crucial questions of a story

  1. What does the hero want?
  2. Who or what is opposing the hero from getting it?
  3. How will the hero’s life change if he gets or doesn’t get what he wants?

Websites and brands should have one sentence that sums them up with four elements

  • Include these four elements:
    The character
    The problem
    The plan
    The success

retired couples
a second mortgage
a timeshare house
spend winters in Florida, escape the winter

More tips:
  • Almost every company can benefit from having an affiliate or referral program.
  • Three questions that should be answered within five seconds of looking at your website The caveman test:

What do you offer?

How will it change my life?

What do I have to do to get it?

🌴 We help retired couples who want to escape the harsh cold and avoid the hassle of a second mortgage while still enjoying the warm beautiful weather of Florida in the winter.

  • How to get better testimonials? Ask the right questions:
    1. What was the problem before you discovered our product?
    2. How frustrating was it to try to solve the problem?
    3. What was different about our product?
    4. Take us to the moment when you realized our product actually works to solve your problem.
    5. Tell us what life looks like now that you have solved the problem.

Learn how to write copy that sticks

Hey, it’s Shlomo. Thanks for reading my book summary 🙂 

I’m building the world’s largest collection of techniques and tools for copywriters,marketers, and other creative creatures.

Currently, the website includes:
💡35+ step-by-step guides
🛠 150+ online tools

❤️ All for free

Click here to check it out here.