1.) A Character
Every story is about someone. This is the main character. But a story isn’t interesting if it just follows some random guy around for two hours. The character has to want something. The story has to clearly demonstrate what the character wants in the first few moments or it’ll lose the audience.
The same is true of your marketing. The first thing you should do is tell your customer that you have what they want. Ask yourself these questions:
All of these questions are important because your customer has to know what you sell. But she doesn’t only want the thing you sell, she also wants the life that having this thing will help her have. Imagining how her life will be better is part of what’s driving her to look for your product.
If she’s ready to buy now, you don’t want her having to look around to figure out how to do that. If your “Buy Now” button isn’t clear, you risk losing customers.
2.) The Character Has a Problem
Have you ever seen a movie that didn’t have some kind of conflict? They don’t exist. Screenwriters and storytellers know an important fact about stories: the story is the problem. Without a problem, there is no story.
This is true of your customers as well. They wouldn’t be on your website if they didn’t have a problem they were hoping to solve.
Don’t miss this. It’s incredibly important.
Your customers are on your website because they have a problem. If you’re not talking about the problem you solve, your customers have no reason to be there.
Remember: the story is the problem. So talk about it. When your customers see you talking about the problem they have, they lean in. They get interested.
When you talk about the problem your customers are experiencing, they connect your product with their survival.
People buy solutions to their negative emotions, i.e. their internal problems—not their external problems.
Yes, you sell a product that solves the external problem your customers are experiencing. But that’s not why they buy. They buy because they don’t like the way that external problem makes them feel. They buy to solve their internal problem.
3.) The Character Meets a Guide
In a story, if the character can solve their own problem, it’s not really a problem. It feels like a waste of time. So storytellers created another character who comes alongside the main character to help them solve their problem. This character is called the Guide.
In Star Wars, the guide is Yoda. The role of the guide is to help the main character win.
In business, you are the guide. Your company is the guide. And your job is to help your customers win.
When you position yourself as the guide, your customers connect your company with their survival. They want to do business with you because they know you want to help them solve their problem and succeed.
To be the guide, there are only two ways you can talk about yourself. If you go outside of these two categories in your marketing or on your website, you risk entering into competition with your customers for the role of hero in the story. We don’t want that.
Here are the two questions to answer to position yourself as the guide in your customers’ stories:
Notice that there is nothing there about how hard it’s been to start your business. There’s nothing there about how you want to be a great leader to your staff.
It’s not about you.
Even here, when you finally get to talk about yourself, the story is still about your customers. Keep it that way.
They don’t need to know how cool you are or how hard you’ve worked. They want you to express empathy (the first question) and authority (the second question). That’s it.
This can be a couple of sentences on your website, a bio, or you can work empathy and authority into other elements of your website.
4.) Who Gives Them a Plan
As the guide to your customers, you have two responsibilities. First, give them a plan to solve their problem.
Your product or service is part of the plan, but it’s not the whole thing. Having “Buy Now” buttons all over the place is good, but for many people, they may not be ready to click. They might have questions or concerns they need to have answered first. Or they don’t understand how to use it.
Break down the process into 3-5 bite-size steps that make your customers say, “I can do that!”
Your plan can be about the process to purchase, how to use the product, your onboarding process, or something else.
Having a simple plan is more important than what your plan is.
Take 60 seconds on this simple exercise. Ask:
After this “Process Plan” there’s another plan. The Agreement Plan.
The Agreement Plan is the perfect place to build trust with your customer. Many companies use it as “Our Promise to You” others list off benefits of working with them. Your main goal with this section is to increase trust with your customers. There are two ways I recommend doing this.
1. Respond to objections. Sometimes, people have a tough time getting over the hump and clicking the ‘buy now’ button. What are some of the questions or objections they have? On your note-taking paper, write these down. Now, next to each one, write down how you’d respond if you were talking to a customer face to face.
Are they concerned you won’t have their size? Your response might be: “Our one-size-fits-all fits every size!”
Are they concerned it will break? You can state: “We guarantee it won’t break, or we’ll replace it for free!”
Are they worried it won’t work for them? Give them other’s endorsements as a response to their concern: “Over 10,000 five star reviews on Amazon!”
Write down your response to their concern. Don’t write down their objection, only your positive response.
2. Make a list of the benefits of working with you or the positive characteristics of your company. Maybe your customers don’t have objections, but they want to know why they can trust you over your competition. Make a list of why they can trust you. Then choose your top 4-6 reasons and put them below.
5.) Call Them to Action
People don’t act unless they’re told to act. Say it with me. People don’t act unless they’re told to act. This is the second responsibility of the guide in a story, to call the hero to action.
This fact of life kills so many businesses.
Nice business owners, who don’t want to “be too pushy” fail to ask for the sale either go out of business or limp along for years barely making it, paying themselves half of what they should.
When you ask for the sale, people don’t think you’re pushy—they think you’re confident.
The main way to call your customers to action and ask for the sale is to have a clear “Buy Now” button (or “Schedule a Call” or “Add to Cart” or whatever your first action step is). I like to put these all over the website so that the moment a viewer is ready to purchase, they don’t have to search for the button.
Often, people want to see exactly what they’re getting before they buy. It is valuable to include a section called the “Offer” or “What You Get” section. This one’s simple:
List off everything your customers get when they buy your product.
Brainstorm and put your best ideas below.
6.) Help Them Avoid Failure
At this point on your website, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the solution to your customers’ problem. It can be easy for them to forget why they’re here. They’re imagining themselves with your solution and aren’t thinking about their problem anymore.
This is mostly good. We want people thinking about how their life will be better with your product or service.
But if there aren’t stakes—if there isn’t a possible failure—there’s no reason to buy from you.
We must remind people why they came to your website in the first place. They have a problem and if they don’t purchase your solution, they will continue living with that problem. And it might even get worse.
We don’t have to go over the top with this one. Failure is like salt. Too much ruin a meal, but a little dash adds the perfect zing.
7.) End With Their Success
Success is the most exciting section for me. It’s a happy ending! The hero accomplishes her mission, the couple ends up together. The character gets what he wants.
It’s what your customers are hoping they’ll experience.
We want your customers to imagine the life they’ll have after they buy your product or service and solve their problem. What will their life look like? Get specific. Imagine all the ways your customers’ lives will be better, then write down your favorites.
In this section, you can use images or bullet points. Maybe even testimonials. Pick the clearest way to show your customers how great their life will be.
Finish with success.