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Two Mistakes Most Marketers Make and the StoryBrand Solution

Most companies waste enormous amounts of money on marketing. When we see the reports, we wonder what went wrong, or worse, whether our product is really as good as we thought it was.

But what if the problem wasn’t the product? What if the problem was the way we talked about the product?

Why So Many Businesses Fail

Without us knowing it, human beings are constantly scanning their environment (even advertising) for information that is going to help them meet their primitive need to survive.

This means that when we ramble on and on about how we have the biggest manufacturing plant on the West Coast, our customers don’t care.

Why?

Because that information isn’t helping them eat, drink, find a mate, fall in love, build a tribe, experience a deeper sense of meaning, or stockpile weapons in case barbarians start coming over the hill behind our cul-de-sac.

Marketing Mistake #1: Your message should be about surviving and thriving.

The first mistake brands make is they fail to focus on the aspects of their offer that will help people survive and thrive. All great stories are about survival—either physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual. A story about anything else won’t work to captivate an audience. Nobody’s interested. This means that if we position our products and services as anything but an aid in helping people survive, thrive, be accepted, find love, achieve an aspirational identity, or bond with a tribe that will defend them physically and socially, good luck selling anything to anybody.

Marketing Mistake #2: Your message should cut straight to the point.

The second mistake brands make is they cause their customers to burn too many calories in an effort to understand their offer. When having to process too much seemingly random information, people begin to ignore the source of that useless information in an effort to conserve calories. In other words, there’s a survival mechanism within our customers’ brain that is designed to tune us out should we ever start confusing them. Imagine every time we talk about our products to potential customers, they have to start running on a treadmill. Literally, they have to jog the whole time we’re talking. How long do you think they’re going to pay attention? If we don’t say something (and say something quickly) they can use to survive or thrive, they will tune us out.

Storybrand’s Marketing Model

Whether we run a small company or a multibillion-dollar brand, confusing our customers is costing us money.

  • How many of our team members can’t explain how we help our customers survive and thrive?
  • How many people are buying from our competition because they’ve communicated more clearly than we have?
  • How long will we last if we keep talking about aspects of our products our customers don’t care about?

Things can be different.

To clarify our message we’re going to need a formula. A serious formula. This formula needs to organize our thinking, reduce our marketing effort, obliterate confusion, terrify the competition, and finally get our businesses growing again.

WATCH: Marketing Techniques Based on 2,000-Year-Old Storytelling Formulas

Donald Miller

Donald Miller has helped more than 3,000 businesses clarify their marketing messages so their companies grow. He's the CEO of StoryBrand, the cohost of the Building a StoryBrand Podcast, and the author of several books, including the bestsellers Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Betsy, and their dogs, Lucy and June Carter.

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