Welcome to Episode 16 of the Sustainable Ecommerce Podcast
In today’s show we discuss the importance of brand story, and to help unpick how important this is, I’m thrilled to be joined by Bethany Westwood, former journalist, Certified Storybrand Guide and newest Member of the Sustainable eCommerce team!
Currently, 70% + of consumers indicate they are seeking to make more sustainable choices, but the reality is that only 30% of people actually put that desire into action.
Just because your brand is doing things more sustainably or making more sustainable products, doesn’t mean your target customers will actually buy from you!
One thing that all the most successful sustainable brands are doing to attract customers and enrol them into their mission is developing a really clear and compelling story, and weaving that into all points of their marketing.
A brilliant system to help you do that is the Strorybrand framework, and so in todays show, we take some time out to explain what that is, and how you can use it to grow your own brand.
Once you’ve listened to the show, you can scroll to the bottom of the page to find the links are resources I mentioned to help you get started.
Giles Smith: Tell us a little bit about your background, how did you become this amazing Certified Storybrand Guide?
Bethany Westwood: My background is actually in journalism. My first full-time job was working as a copywriter for a charity. One of the things that you learn quite quickly working as a copywriter for a charity is you need to work extra hard to be able to convince people to give. Although the cause is really great, unlike just working in any other kind of marketing, you know, asking people to buy something in exchange for a product or something, you’re asking people to give you something basically with nothing in exchange.
So, I learned the ropes of copywriting in a charity, got to travel around, interviewed all sorts of people all over the world. Really fell in love with the art of storytelling and the ability to tell a good story. From there I found out about Storybrand. We were looking to rebrand this charity, just before COVID actually. We came across this framework that we’re going to talk about today. StoryBrand by a guy called Donald Miller and the rest, I guess, is history.
I just saw it work so well across such a vast range of industries that I decided to step out on my own and become a certified StoryBrand guide.
Giles Smith: Thanks for sharing that with us! Let’s talk Storybranding! What is the StoryBrand framework? And how is it different from just a brand story? What’s the difference between the two?
Bethany Westwood: Really good question. StoryBrand is a framework that helps you communicate clearly about what you do. So, as I mentioned before, Donald Miller is a guy from the U.S. who wrote “Building a StoryBrand” and this frameworks helped thousands of Businesses stand out in their field.
For years I saw so many entrepreneurs see their side-hustle really become more of a side-struggle simply because they didn’t know how to communicate about what it is that they do. They lost business because they confused people and no one knew what they did.
How it differentiates from just normal marketing is that most brands really want to talk about themselves, which I think makes sense, because you’re promoting yourself, you’re promoting your business, your product, and you’re trying to push that out into the world.
But I think one of the biggest ways that StoryBrand is different is it’s actually all about your customer. So, you first need to be able to communicate who your customer is, what do they want? Who do they aspire to be? And then the next thing is it’s all about honing in on that customer’s problem and not just externally what their problem is, but how does that problem make them feel?
What are they wrestling with and why is it just plain wrong that they have to encounter that problem? Often, this is probably the biggest thing that I found different about StoryBrand was after you’ve identified and spoken to who that customer is, what they want, and what’s getting in the way of what they want. Then you talk about yourself as a brand, so it’s quite different.
Giles Smith: The customer only cares about your brand once they’ve worked out how you can help them solve their problems. Let’s say a brand using the StoryBrand framework has successfully managed to communicate how they can fix the customer’s problem. What else does the StoryBrand do for that brand to really engage and connect with that customer?
Bethany Westwood: Once you’ve communicated that you’ve understood the customer’s problem, the next step is being really, really clear in what that process looks like and also positioning yourself as their guide.
So you talk to that customer with empathy, you understand where they’ve been, you understand their struggles, but you also talk to them with authority. You need to show that you are a great guide for them. Once you’ve connected with them emotionally and proven you’re a good guide for them (so they can trust you), that’s when we give them like a really strong call to action and we lay out what success might look like for them. What failure looks like as well.
So you’re constantly reminding people of the stakes of not doing business with you, because if somebody is going to look at your brand but you haven’t painted a picture of what success looks like, the customer is probably not going to be as motivated to engage with that brand because they don’t know what a win looks like.
Giles Smith: I love that notion of the guide that you just mentioned there. From the point of view of being a coach and a mentor and a facilitator, you can kind of get that instantly, but e-commerce brand owners often don’t think of themselves that way.
They think of their brand as the best at doing something, has a unique positioning somehow, or is a standout in the marketplace. And in fact, the majority of marketing that you see these days talks about their unique position.
But the reality is that doesn’t recognize the fact that the customer wants to be the hero in their own story as well. They want to actually solve their own problems and they don’t really care, ultimately whether you’re the best or the biggest or the smartest or the first or, or whatever it, whatever it is until they clearly understand how your brand can help them transform in some way.
Most Ecommerce marketing falls on deaf ears because it is all this feature-based. If you can take that away and show how the customer is the hero, that’s now an emotional journey. Much more powerful!
What are some of the key takeouts you’ve seen?
Bethany Westwood: I’ve seen StoryBrand across a whole range of industries really help businesses grow. I think when you get clear on your messaging and what you’re asking people for you often see more business, just walk in the door. For example, an e-commerce brand used Storybrand to help with their Facebook ads. They started doing Facebook ads in 2020. In the first 12 months they grew from like $36,000 to 190 K in revenue!
Giles Smith: That’s a great example regards Facebook Ads. With the modern day funnel of Facebook through to a landing page, or even to directly to your product page if you’re telling the story well, in the ad copy and in the ad imagery, that’s relating to your customer and showing them how the product is going to solve their problem. Then they’re going to stop the scroll more and click more, which will send the right data signals back to the AI.
Once they click through, they have a pre-conceived emotional attachment to your products. By the time they get through to your landing page they may just be looking for the fact to fill in and confirm what they already believe.
When your web page is converting better because the customer understands how your product solves the problem, that’s a win no matter what traffic source the potential customer came from.
Bethany Westwood: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, all our brains are doing is trying to figure out whether your brand is going to help me survive and thrive.
Once you get people engaged in that emotion, in that transformation and actually thrive and become the person that I want to be, its so much more engaging.
Giles Smith: Fundamentally, it’s about connecting the human elements of story into what your brand’s about and therefore engaging people in how you can help them. Whether that’s a customer, employee, influencer or supplier. Everybody wants to be seen as being part of a story.
The concept of StoryBrand can work for any business, but why is it so particularly good for sustainable brands?
Bethany Westwood: Yeah, I think StoryBrand is such a great formula for sustainable purpose-driven brands because of the fact that it’s customer centric. In order for you as a business to achieve your mission, your brand’s mission, you need to have customers that are all-in. They need to get the vision. They need to want to be part of that mission. And I think StoryBrand is just one of the clearest ways of communicating that vision with clarity, but also encouraging the customer to become part of it. You’re actually inviting the customer to be part of your mission.
Giles Smith: That’s so powerful! With a storybrand, you’re showing them as the guide, how they can solve their problems, but you’re actually inviting them in and giving them the opportunity to become a hero in your grand mission. You’re actually saying, ‘yes, we’re solving a massive problem that humanity needs to deal with, and in buying my product, this is how you’ll be helping with that”
Bethany Westwood: Yeah, absolutely. I think so. I feel like I buy out of that that sort of place.
Giles Smith: Can anybody actually get story branding for their own business and how would they start?
Bethany Westwood: Well, first of all, you can buy the book Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller from Amazon or your local book store. But you can also work with Storybrand Guides or businesses like Sustainable eCommerce who have StoryBrand guides and coaches are working within them.
You can get people to have a look at your brand’s messaging, have a look at the way that you’ve positioned yourself and to be able to coach your marketing team as well.
It might seem daunting at first, whether you’re getting started or you’re looking at a brand refresh or, you know, anything along those lines. Like the art of storytelling is just built into all of us. Uh, we’re so familiar with it, with the books that we read, the movies that we watch. And so being able to create a story brand feel business, it’s actually a lot simpler than you might think. It’s incredibly powerful and it’s a, it’s a really fun framework.
Giles Smith: Yes, I encourage all the people I work with in our coaching business to buy and read the book. Click to get a copy on Amazon.
I’m excited for the listeners to get started, so one great way to start is to really understand your customer first by mapping out your avatar. Here’s a link to our FREE avatar definition sheet that will help you get started.
For sustainable brands in particular, I’m excited because we have taken a look at what some of the fastest growing ecommerce brands are doing, and whether or not they are using the actual Storybrand framework, they are casting the customer as the hero in their mission. To help you kind of replicate their approach we are hosting a FREE masterclass on the 23rd of June where we’ll walk you through Storybranding for sustainable brands. You can register for the masterclass here.