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The Vision
Written by Laura Brandaos
About the Author >>>
Building a Story Brand
by Donald Miller
Review by Peter Wietmarschen
Over the past three years, I have become ever more ingrained in the mortgage and real estate industry. Before working with the 20/20 Magazine team, the most I knew about mortgages or real estate was what I learned in my high school government class about the crash in ‘08. At the time, we were all still feeling the effects of the housing crisis, and while we knew, more or less, the major causes, there were still consequences and changes the industry would sustain.
While I know more about the industry today, I will not pretend to know the intricacies of mortgage rates or housing inventory like you, the people on the frontline of the industry. Even still, I am sure I am joined by many of you who might be somewhat concerned with the recent state of the housing market. The crash of ‘08 happened in a quite formidable period of my life, so when I heard about the current market, my mind immediately turned towards ’08, and I wondered if we could be heading in that direction.
I have become more knowledgeable about the industry working alongside the great team at 20/20, and while I am the last person you should come to for marketing advice, after listening to Christine talk and reading more articles to educate myself on the current market affairs, I know the industry is in a much healthier place than it was 15 years ago.
Over the last few months, I have had the privilege of being able to work with the new VisionMark team as well. During this time, I was not too shocked to hear two things:
  1. Digital marketing holds lots of potential.
  2. People are not effectively using their social media.
This leads me to the book review this month: Building a StoryBrand. I wanted to find a book to reach every one of you to use and better your marketing in this market. After all, if you could make a better connection with your potential clients and create stronger leads, wouldn’t you do that?
Let’s start with a quick disclaimer. This book was written to generate clicks to a website and potential clients for the author. I have no connection to this author, and I haven’t gone to the website to look at the worksheets and exercises suggested in the book. All I was interested in for this book review was what was between the cover (or after the cover page for the E-book, I guess).
I know this book was used as a marketing tool because the first chapter basically comes out and tells you it was the book’s goal. At first, it comes off a little heavy-handed, and you may want to adjust your mind to recognize this is not your typical non-fiction book. In all honesty, this is my biggest gripe with the book. While I might suggest skipping the first chapter, I do suggest you wade through it because the author does lay out the basic underpinnings of the StoryBrand approach in between the salesy writing.
The basic idea of the StoryBrand approach is you will make more sales if you take a page from the art of storytelling when you create your marketing. The author never directly mentions this but if you have ever heard of Joseph Campbell and his The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the StoryBrand approach is more or less a direct take-off of the hero’s journey. As a quick aside, I have read Campbell’s book and though he lays out the foundation for nearly every story ever told, I find it to be a bit too scholarly for what I would call general reading.
I am not going to directly lay out the approach offered up by Miller in this book (because I want you to read it!) but I do want to highlight what I found to be the most important lesson, a lesson which actually flipped some of my thinking on how to write better marketing copy.
The lesson: you must treat your customer as if they are the hero in the story! It’s true, each of us is the hero in our own lives. I am the main character of my life, you are the lead actor in your life, and we are but side characters or extras in each other’s lives. The major mistake many marketers who are not marketing professionals by trade make is they tend to treat their own company as the hero of the story. As soon as you begin to treat your customer as the main character and your company as their guide in their journey, you are going to see your marketing pay dividends.
This leads me to my only other criticism of the book: the author tends to overly use pop culture references in his writing. I understand, to a degree. His whole premise is we should be treating our marketing as if we are writing an Oscar award-winning screenplay or the next New York Times Bestseller. You can tell the Star Wars franchise must be his favorite movie series as it seems every example has some parallel to Star Wars. Don’t get me wrong, I love Star Wars and watch the original trilogy (which is the best), at least once a year but it feels a bit overused throughout this book.
Back to the StoryBrand approach itself. After you switch your internal thinking to treat your customer as the main character of their own journey, then the rest of the StoryBrand approach falls in quite nicely. The first section of the book lays out the actual StoryBrand approach, beginning with the most important step mentioned above. What I do appreciate is at the end of each chapter, the author tells you to sit down and complete a few exercises before moving on to the next section. I like this approach as it keeps your thoughts and attention on the topic at hand.
After he introduces the approach, the last section of the book focuses on ways you can best implement these different steps within the StoryBrand approach. Again, I’ll leave the details to you for when you read the book but I enjoy how the author gives simple examples and explanations so you can see the value. While these examples are not going to be an exact match for your company, you should be able to follow this formula to create a StoryBrand to bring in better client leads.
All-in-all, when you dig through the sales-like copy and sometimes cringe-worthy pop culture references, there is a gold mine of information in this book. As the industry continues to move through this downturn, I highly suggest you rethink your marketing approach. The motivating factors, both internal and external, have changed for your client. The problems you solve for them today are different from the problems you solved last year.

I would give this book a 4.25 out of 5-star review.
Written by Ray Befus
About the Author >>>
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