How to write copy that sells using Donald Miller's StoryBrand Framework

I had written earlier about how to use research to understand pains and problems of your customers.

Following that exercise, we need to piece together the messaging for websites and landing pages. 

The caveat for messaging is that it needs to sell to the audience. Sell needs to transform the customer's experience of pain.

The question: Is there a tried and tested, proven framework for selling online?

I recently came across Donald Miller’s StoryBrand technique for creating and clarifying the sell message on websites.

Donald Miller has studied several hundreds of Hollywood Blockbusters. He has then essenced the success framework of the hit movies into a story telling framework.

He uses the success formula to sell brands on the web. The goal is better clarity in messaging and all the ingredients needed for persuading the customer to buy immediately.

The 7-point StoryBrand framework by Donald Miller

  1. A Character usually the hero/ your customer

  2. With a problem/pain/ need

  3. Meets a Guide [the brand]

  4. Who gives the hero a plan [precise steps to achieve a goal]

  5. That calls them to action 

  6. That results in Tragedy [failure]

  7. or Comedy [success]

This is absolutely fascinating.

You can view the brandscript framework on the StoryBrand website

Donald Miller's StoryBrand Framework for Message Clarity

Once you understand the pains and problems of your audience you can use the StoryBrand framework to write the brandscript.

There are few nuances to the StoryBrand script.

The character's problem has 3 levels: Internal, External, and Philosophical. You need to understand and address all three levels to have a winning message.

The Guide has two qualities that need to be demonstrated to the customer to be credible: Empathy [I have been in your shoes], and Authority [I have solved that and more].

The Plan needs to be precise [the number of steps] and graspable [as in 3 easy steps to financial freedom, not 17 steps].

There are two aspects to the Call to Action: It can be direct [buy now, schedule an appointment, dwonload free trial] or transitional [Download this eBook, View this Video].

Success is the transformation of the pain experience for the customer. If you can get into the customer's head and weave vivid imagery around how he/she will be tranformed with the use of the product or service, you'll be home.

Tragedy is about the stakes in the game for the customer. Don says that without the stakes, there is no story. Stakes provide the contrast with success and gives the mind something to chew on were you not to buy the service or product.

The template for writing the StoryBrand brandscript is publicly available here.

Remember to write to the StoryBrand principles for each audience that you wish to target, separately. 

Michael Lukaszewski shares with us what he learnt at the StoryBrand Workshop with Donald Miller. This offers some great insights into how the StoryBrand works.

Search for the StoryBrand Brandscript on Google

A simple search on Google Images for “StoryBrand brandscript” gives us some more details.

  1. The framework for writing the StoryBrand brandscript

  2. Several fleshed out brandscripts written for some brands

Prior to using the brandscript framework, one of the techniques we used for writing web copy, was Ray Edward’s PASTOR rule. 

In fact, what we learnt is that if you mix some of the elements of PASTOR with Donald Miller’s StoryBrand brandscript, you will end up with compelling copy.

By the way, Donald Miller and Ray Edwards are collaborators in videos and podcasts.

Ray Edward's PASTOR Principles of Copywriting

P - your customer’s pain/ problem/ need

A - amplify the pain. You need to amplify to contrast and register the pain.

S - your story/ solution to the pain

T - transformation and testimony, social proof that reinforces the credibility of your communications

O - offer that could be a price offer

R - the response that you want from he customer

We have written several websites that follow the PASTOR framework and can swear that it works.

  1. Writer Relocations

  2. Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa

  3. Writer Information

Are websites using the StoryBrand different from those using the PASTOR framework?

The key difference between the two is in the tragedy of the story.

Donald Miller tells us that the tragedy creates the tension in the story. Without tragedy, there is no story. So tragedy is an integral part of story telling.

In terms of telling a story for a brand, the tragedy translates into:

  1. what would happen if you did not buy this brand?
  2. “what would happen if you put up with status quo?”.

If you see the examples of the StoryBrand website you will notice this:

  1. Story Brand

  2. Choose Exit Realty 

  3. Fly By Photo Booth 

  4. Nu Spine Chiropractic

  5. Life Water

  6. Beacon Wealth

  7. Schultz Photo School

  8. Pigtail Pundits

Where can you use the StoryBrand?

Use the StoryBrand framework as guides for creating:

  1. Website messaging for your money pages

  2. Landing Pages for PPC, or FB Ads

  3. Messaging for Marketing Collaterals 

  4. Writing Blog Posts that follow a clear structure

  5. Social Media Posts

How to build the StoryBrand message

The first bit here is to fill up the brandscript template as best as you can. Use the insights you have on your customers for this.

The second, is to write the brandstory using the brandscript and some logic. Check the example websites above that use the StoryBrand framework to get an idea of how copy transforms the insights and uses a logic for telling the story.

With a few tries you can do this too.

But remember, the experts will be able to do it faster and with better sell.

If you need help with writing using the StoryBrand framework for your web, landing page, or marketing collateral messages, write to Pigtail Pundits.

Are there proven storytelling frameworks that you use for web copy?

We’re always looking to hone our craft. We would love to hear what your experiences with writing web copy are. Use the comments below to tell us.

May your garden teem and throng with customers

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