What role does your business play in a customer’s story:

  • Your customers are not looking for a hero in their life, but a guide. And a guide is a person who participates in a costumer’s transformation, to help them become a better version of themselves. We step into our costumer’s story, rather than focusing on our own story, and that’s how we care about their internal frustrations. 

What exactly is the purpose of your business’s product?

  • “A customer is more interested not in what you sell, but what that product will give them”. With a product, you are selling much more than just a physical thing. There are internal values that you are fulfilling for a customer as you’re helping them solve a deeper problem that they have.

Do you struggle with conveying who you are and what you give?

  • Here’s the good news, you don’t have a money problem. The power is your message: What are you saying that isn’t clear? Understand your costumer, the intangible value your product holds, and clarify that for them. It will transform your marketing. 

 Show Transcription

[00:17] Welcome to The Ziglar Show, the show that exists to inspire your true performance! I’m your host Kevin Miller and today Tom Ziglar and I bring you a guy we are both massive fans of…renowned author and now business leader, Don Miller. Here is my testimony…of books written in the last decade, I’ve heard more testimony of actual life change as a result of people reading Don’s book, ‘A Million Miles In A Thousand Years’, than any other book. Period. I’ve purchased 3 cases of the book and given it away. I attended Don’s Storyline conferences, as have much of my family and friends. Now Don has brought his expertise and insight on story to the business world, with unprecedented acclaim. If you want a successful business, and life, what you’ll hear in the following interview and in Don’s just released book, “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” is a must read. Why? It flips our perspective of how to promote what we have to offer to the public. It’s not about our product or service, it’s about them…the customer. He takes us through the structure of a good story line, and how we can, and must apply it to our offerings, in this format:

[01:50] “A CHARACTER who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE steps into their lives, gives them a PLAN, and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action helps them avoid FAILURE and ends in a SUCCESS.”

[02:06] When you listen in, I predict two things:

1 – you’ll realize you are violating some of these principles

2 – you’ll have an aha moment you can take action on right away.

[02:18] You can connect with Don at storybrand.com

[03:21] Here now, Tom Ziglar and I bring you Don Miller:

[03:29] Don, we’re incredibly honoured to talk with you today. Tom Ziglar was adamant about co-hosting with me today because he read the book and it impacted his perspective for Ziglar, give us your main takeaway Tom?

[03:44] You bet, I got lucky, I got an advance copy of the new book. And dug into it. And I said to Dad, what would we sell? He would say we sell hope and encouragement. So I am reading the book and here is an exercise, where you do what I call an elevator pitch, you put it all in one using your concepts and ideas. And this literally guided me over last eight weeks, on talks I do, on one-o-one conversations, on emails. So here it is, at Ziglar we help busy people achieve true success through a one step action plan.

[04:53] The exercise you are talking about is called a one liner, it is supposed to be one sentence story, so it is one problem, a product, and a solution. So the only thing I changed is that we have busy people go through with one action plan, which you resolve it.

[07:42] Don, here’s a short story. When “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” was released, a friend said I had to read it. I did, and ended up buying cases of the books that I gave away. Then Sept 2010 I attended your first Storyline conference in a theatre in Portland with a close friend, my brother, my uncle and my dad, Dan Miller, who you know there in Franklin, TN. A few years ago my wife attended Storyline in Nashville. My oldest son did a high school project around the Storyline concept. So…I am a grateful recipient of your message and honoured to have us with you today! Thank you

[08:58] I first became a fan of yours after reading “Blue Like Jazz” and then of course A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. You were direct and respectfully irreverent. Not a “safe Christian” from my bible belt upbringing, and I loved that. Frederich Buechner is my fave author and I found similarities. Then all of the sudden, it seemed to me, here you are with a business focus? Is this a fruition or a foray?

[09:35] Well mostly a fruition. I have written about seven memoirs, they done really well. After that third memoirs, they started running out of the things you say, but publisher wanted more and so I write one more. But at some point, I thought, hey I am not doing anything different and I thought I can write about that. I created this marketing messaging framework to grow my own conference company and it works so well that we really kind of sat around staffs and say hey this is very valuable. Lots of company could learn from this. I just changed my Twitter bio to say something about being able to help companies to get their story out there, and the first client was Procter and Gamble. And then the second client was courtly and the third was the White House with Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper campaign, Chick fil A jumped in there, so all of a sudden you know the framework itself that we use grow our company was bigger than the company. And so I shut down the old Conference company and I’m actually just delighted because I feel like honestly you write your seven basic memoir is just something that’s kind of unfair about being able to get your story heard that much and this is allowing me to help other people to tell their story. And it’s proving to be as the filling if not more fulfilling than all those memoirs that I wrote. So what we do now is we help companies clarify their message most companies on their website and elevator pitches say oh scripts all those struggling that we do to explain who we are, what we’re about, and why customers need us. It is important work because people buy things based on the words they hear or the words they read and we have a framework that helps you solidify that message and use it to populate all manner of marketing and sales material and we’ve proven it’s work now for about three thousand companies, and so finally it feels like a sudden thing but it’s actually been about three years finally it’s out in book form.

[11:58] You lead off the book with an intro and make two statements I want you to explain more, “Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand,” and you end with, “May we all be richly rewarded for putting our customer’s stories above our own.” But this is more than mere “customer testimonials”, I’m assuming?

[12:56] It is a bit counterintuitive, but the reality is if we can position ourselves as the hero in the story as leaders even spouses and parents as coaches and especially as brands and marketing. If we position ourselves as the hero it actually turns customers off and here’s why, every human being self identifies as the lead protagonist in a story, meaning there’s things that we want in life, there are challenges that are keeping us from getting what we want, we have some rough or vague idea of an obligatory scene that we hope will happen, that will end all of our conflict or resolve. These are all narrative characteristics that we go into story formulas. The problem is if you identify as a hero and we’re at a cocktail party and you say down what do you do and I say well you know I’ve got this great company, we’re trying to double our revenue, trying to increase our great place of work metric and my grandfather started the company and what your brain does is your brain hears me say I’m a hero. And if you’re a hero and I’m a hero then who’s the story about right. And so you’re going to that’s an interesting story but you’re not a character in my story, you’re in your own story. As the first thing happens and also so consciously we both believe that we’re contending for a scarcity of resources, so when you’re the hero of the story there’s a subconscious contention that you have with your customer, instead there’s this other character in stories.

[17:22] In chapter 1, “The key to being seen, heard and understood”, you take us away from explaining our company, product or service and instead drive us to clarify our message. So speak to the many who are hearing this and their first thought is…my message is what my product or service does.

[18:32] That’s right and actually they should have taken some cues from you, they would do a lot more business if they said on their website we recycle stuff. They won’t even say, they weren’t even saying that. In fact, the website was blank, it had a picture of their building. And it just said you know then there are a bunch of links, contacts, Frequently Asked Questions, connect with us, but they never actually told me what they did. And so if I go to their website and I see a building, first I think they are selling a building. So now I’m confused about who you are and if you confuse your customers, they’ll never get on you. So you can never ever let them get confuse what you were watching was after going through this framework we help companies clarify their message, then they can populate their website. So we’re sort of at the end of the process of looking at websites and think how do we clear, how do we use these messages, and we were analysing those, but your website needs to pass the grunt test. And the grunt test means, if I took a laptop and handed it to a caveman and gave a caveman five seconds with your website and then close the lid on the laptop, I needed to ask the caveman three questions and he should be able to answer them in order for you to know that your website is doing good business. The first is what you offer, and the second is how will it make my life better, and the third is what do I need to do to buy. And if our websites aren’t answering those three questions within five seconds, we’re losing business. And so that’s the importance today, especially today as the average consumer isn’t countering three thousand commercial messages a day. So the idea that we can be cute or clever and stand out it is a myth, that’s just not true. You’ve got to be crystal clear.

[21:05] So the confusion, I think I know in my own history with business, I have done that a lot and didn’t realize. They don’t make sense to me and it wasn’t till somebody else told me it was it was confusing that I realized that I’m speaking, my speak, our speak and not to their speak, which is the point so much of your book here. But then the next thing that you that I read in there that goes along with it to me that really did resonate just from a user standpoint, is calorie burning. And I think you talked about that on the show that people are going your website, they see what you got, and they’re burning calories, trying to figure it out. Because I have probably despite myself missed out on great products or services, because I go there, I’m so impatient, my attention span is so little, and I know that I can find something else. Cause too many offerings out there that calorie burning really resonated with me and I think that’s the one that when I think about the audience is listening to this they will realize because we’ve all done it. We go look for something, and we go to a website, we don’t know what it is, we go big, let’s go to the next search engine hit, that one yet seems powerful.

[22:10] Yeah and that explain how the brain works in the very first chapter of the book. There are two things that the brain is trying to do at all times. First is surviving through, the brain is tasked with keeping you alive, that’s its main job. And that’s doesn’t mean just physically alive, it means I also connected with others in relationships, gaining status, being spiritually nurtured, you know all things that have to do with being alive and thriving. And the second thing the brain is trying to do actually contend with the first thing and that is trying to conserve calories. It takes a lot of calories for us to process information. Now if I go to your website or I’m talking to you at a party or something like that and you’re giving me a bunch of data that I don’t need in order to survive or that I can’t figure out if house and help me survive. The survival mechanism my brain will say, hey let’s stop listening to this, let’s actually shut down, let’s start the daydream, so that we can conserve calories because tonight barbarians might come over the hill and I’ve got to be ready. My goal is that and so that’s actually have a brain works with that means is we have to on our Web sites, in our market lateral, in as we talk about what we do in a very succinct easy way state, how we can help our customers and do so in such a simple way, they don’t have to burn any calories to understand it and that’s the only way to get your message into the human subconscious.

[30:18] You say, “Business has an enemy” and its noise. And you tell the story of a guy with a website that was very noisy and how you gave it an easy fix. It reminded me of the most excellent scene in the movie, “The Notebook” where the main character in beautiful frustration keeps asking the girl, “What do you want? What do you want?!” Do you find that you are that guy for businesses? What do you do?

[31:00] Yeah and you know when you hand your business card to somebody we think they file that business card away in their brain alphabetically under the name of our company. That’s actually not how it works. The only reason people want your business card or want to retain that information is because they know you solve a problem. It is the only reason somebody goes to your websites, the only reason somebody calls you, it’s the only reason people walk through the door of the retail staff because you solve a problem, and people remember you based on the problem that you saw, right. And so you want to own a problem, you want to say we’re the people who’s fix leaky gutters or we’re the people who get the weeds out of your lawn, we are the people who you know do whatever and if you have a muddled message and you have to clearly explain to people what problem you solve, they take that business card. They can figure out what problem you solve, they go in the junk drawer, in the trash can and then when they do have the problem that you do solve, they don’t remember and so we want to be very clear. It’s just branding.

[33:37] You talk about movies and their tried and true formulas to captivate us, and I’ve always been curious, with this info being out there, how do some of the biggest, most successful production companies spend 100 million on a movie and totally bombs? They never endear us to the hero or the end achievement has no redemption?

[34:50] Yeah absolutely, they broke some rules. And it’s easier, it’s harder to do than you think and a lot of times you’re halfway into production and you realize, you’ve broken some rules and you’re trying to fix it. And you can kind of tell those movies where they’re trying to make it work but they just couldn’t do it, and so either the character wasn’t clearly defined what they wanted or we just didn’t like the character or the challenge that faced the character wasn’t powerful enough. You could make a mistake if you humanize the villain, the villain needs to be very one dimensional and trying to stop the hero, if you show a kind side to the villain and there’s some redeemable aspect in their character in a room, in the movie. And so they’re just these rules that are timeless rules that it’s amazing to me, I’m with you. I don’t know how you spend one hundred million dollars and you just didn’t you got that one piece wrong and that’s what’s going to cost you a lot of money here, or you know the movie was just to develop fast or they a lot of times have too many characters who want too many things at that point they’re asking the audience to burn too many calories. And again what’s really happening in the brains of a dissatisfied audience, is the audience says; this is too complicated, I’m not interested, I can’t give any more calories to processing this information, I’m going to shut down and start the day dream as a survival mechanism. It is exactly what happens when you sell an unclear story in a movie script and it’s exactly what happens in each element unclear story and you’re branded.

[37:44] Well so I am asking questions and folks I’m also going to shamelessly plug it that go get the book, because it is so much of… I appreciate that it’s a workbook, and so is Tom talked about I am working through it as a workbook with a business that I’m working on right now, but at face value when people first hear this I felt like I was on one hand you’re saying ok what you got not to make it all about a website, but you know what’s the headline above the fold simple people have to understand it in five seconds or less. And yet we’re also talking about story and it kind of gave me a little tension and I go holy smokes I gotta get folks attention in five seconds but I had to tell the story. And I’m going to get into your seven pieces of the framework here bit by bit but if you could just, I guess comment on that that yes we have to grab people’s attention and then it is through that they’ll give us permission to take them to the next step in the story.

 [38:42] Well you really don’t want to tell your story what you want to do is invite people into a story. The way you do that is the seven parts of the framework I’ll summarize it for you.

  1. CHARACTER
  2. PROBLEM
  3. GUIDE
  4. PLAN
  5. CALLS TO ACTION
  6. avoid FAILURE
  7. ends in a SUCCESS
  • The first thing is a Character: you have to know who the character is so that’s your customer, and we need to invite them to want something. We have to agitate a desire in their lives you know they want to be a better dad or they want to be a better mom or they want hope and inspiration, they want to live an inspired life, we need to find something but there are some mistakes that screenwriters make and so the brands. They’ll find too many things that the character wants. You’re going to lose the audience that says it’s too many calories that you’re asking him to burn.
  • The next thing you have to have actually to find a character once is a Problem, and we need to talk about our customers problems all the time and how our products resolve those problems. Because I’ve said earlier the only thing, the only reason the customers coming to us is to resolve the problem, and then we position ourselves as the guide which we’ve already talked about Kevin on podcast. Where we are, we exist to help the customer win to become the person that they’re looking for. And then we give them a plan.
  • And then fifth we call them to action you’ve got to ask your customer to buy something and there’s some right ways to do that but we have to challenge our customers to step into the story.
  • And then six and seven are the stakes, so things can either end in the happy ending or they can end in a tragic. And which means we have to tell our customers what life will look like if they do business with us and of course it’s going to look great, but we also have to tell them what life will look like if they don’t do business with us.

[49:57] Well on this we are talking about too many focal points, too many characters who desire, too many things. I saw and actually remember was this on the Facebook, a lot of us are made might have been out of the book, Scholtz photo school. I thought was a great option because you know being involved in self employment endeavors and helping people pursue self employment for so many years, photography is often one that’s at the top of the list of I want to be a photographer, everybody digs that, so many people do and you had this guy go from I don’t look at the before story of what all he was offering but then you brought him in. I went there yesterday and looked at in the right above the fold, we help parents take better better pics but and it hit me right because what I’m doing that constantly and unfortunately I’m not taking good pictures. I’m taking what was it you called it just a scrapbook shots or something like that.

[51:13] You’re referring to a business owner in college Schultz and he lives in Ohio and he was a fireman, but he was an Amateur photographer and he loved teaching people take photos. They start a little photo school. He launched that photo school and made 2800 dollars which is great money but not enough to quit your job as a fireman. And you know, not enough to quit your job. He actually you know went through the story ran framework, it’s in the book building, a story brand. It went through certain framework stayed up all night, cut 90% of the Tax on the website and re launched his course to the exact same people who had rejected it. Now you’re going to much business that they’ve already rejected it right, but the next day or the next time you open the course which was the next day, he made one hundred thirteen thousand dollars. You should have a less because these people are already rejected but the truth is the first time last quarter they weren’t listening, because he was speaking over their heads. They didn’t fully understand what it was that he offered but he got ninety percent of the tax, stopped making them burn so many calories, stopped handing them slippery bowling balls, it was a great example.

[55:45] Give us some example especially from the companies that you know most of our folks are going to know, who are doing a good job of this. Is there a company out there right now that you feel is doing a good job of not just hidden the external problem but they’re nailing this right there that internal one?

[56:08] Well I’ll pick one that we all know and don’t have a lot of time but I think I can get through it. Steve Jobs work at Apple computer, he co-founded Apple Computers and he knew the company was going bankrupt or they were going bankrupt they were going south pretty quickly, see release of a computer called Lisa and leave those in the late eighty’s early ninety’s and that company era, that computer bomb, well he released that with a nine pages ad in The New York Times going out all the technical details and features of that computer. Now based on everything we’ve talked about this podcast, actually know that I’m going to do it and then and then he of course you know that never was fired from Apple but he was put in a building by himself. So the writings on the wall, he sells all of those stock out of bitterness, which you you know he should’ve done that also a hundred million dollars, goes off and starts to go up next and heavily invested I mean Pixar. Pixar was not a movie making company, they were owned by George George Lucas, but George just one of the hardware and he hoped some way that hardware would be robust enough to do some C.G.I. work. It wasn’t and but it did develop while wanted to own Pixar. It was just one of the hardware too, he didn’t have any interest in stories or animation, it was actually pretty listerine that first came to Pixar and said can you animate a commercial. And they said actually we think the hardware might be robust enough now to do it and save you lots of animators and lots of time and money. They do that commercial and it made money. And Steve Jobs said, hey this is the first thing I’ve done that’s made money in twenty years. Can you atleast ten years, keep doing it. So they make more commercials, then finally Disney came to this company Pixar and said can you animate the script it’s called Toy Story. Well that made a hundred million dollars and suddenly Steve Jobs is surrounded by the best storytellers in the world and he begins to understand that the story is about a character, that wants something he gives understand the power clarity and he comes back to Apple. They bring him back and he defines something that he’s used people wants customer want, it’s an aspirational identity. He thinks they see themselves as missed this but what they really are our secret geniuses that just have been recognized and unseen.

[1:06:29] Absolutely, well in the point of this is folks to go get the book. I get it, I love it. It’s not just a theory literally a workbook that Tom and I first got.

[1:07:54] All right, well so glad to have you. Thank you friends I hope you will stop your business efforts now and reorient them around Don’s story strategy. You can get the book again building a story brand, clarify your message to customers will listen wherever you buy books and connect with Don at story brand.com When you get value from the show please leave a positive review in iTunes. We need your support. Thanks for being here where we inspire our true performance together.

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