3 Marketing Shifts That Changed My Year

As 2017 comes to an end, I’ve been taking stock of all I’ve learned and deciding what I want to carry with me into 2018. As I look back over this year of change and growth, I believe my journey with a company called StoryBrand taught me one of the most important business lessons I have learned.

“Marketing” is a concept that confuses a lot of companies. Some see good “marketing” as the calendar with the flashy logo they hand out during the holiday season, while others believe “marketing” is their creative corporate manifesto. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching marketing in general and digital marketing as well to better serve the clients at Squirrel Works, and I was lucky when a friend recommended I check out the company StoryBrand.

StoryBrand’s philosophy is that most companies waste “marketing” money trying to be cute, creative, and hip. Most of the time, this flashy content is a bundle of confusing noise. I began my journey with StoryBrand by reading Donald Miller’s brilliant and easy-to-understand book, Building a Story Brand, and then listening to their wonderful podcasts. Ultimately, I decided I wanted to learn more, and I was fortunate enough to attend the live workshop in Nashville a few weeks ago.

The StoryBrand framework shifts marketing paradigms. Here are three of the most eye-opening and dynamic shifts!

  1. Your brand is not the hero in your company story, your customer is. The shift here is to position your company as the guide and your customer as the hero. This means you are like Haymitch in Hunger Games, Yoda in Star Wars, or Peter Brand in Moneyball. Your job is to empathize with the needs of your customers and provide a solution to their problems.


  1. Customers buy solutions to their internal needs more than external ones. While most companies sell solutions to external problems, most customers are looking for solutions to how those problems make them feel. The StoryBrand framework explores the internal concerns your customers face and how you can address those concerns in marketing materials.


  1. Marketing material often exploits “insider” language on the assumption that customers know more than they do. StoryBrand calls this the “curse of knowledge.” Time and again during the workshop, StoryBrand facilitators showed us where our materials lacked clarity. They asked us–Do you want your customer to attend a workshop, buy a candle, or call you for an appointment? The answer to this question should be stated clearly and plainly on your website. If you want your customer to buy a candle, you need a big bold button that says, “Buy a candle now!”


Like all really good conferences, one of the best aspects of the StoryBrand Workshop was the community. We ate together, laughed together, and brainstormed about our businesses together.  It was refreshing to venture outside the transportation industry to network with smart, funny, and talented people about our different value propositions and customer goals.

After three full days at StoryBrand, I came home fired up with a specific BrandScript for a freight brokerage but also with loads of knowledge that informs my work to help transportation companies clarify their message and connect with target customers.

I highly recommend the StoryBrand framework. It is easily digestible and offers concrete steps for implementation.  Please feel free to reach out to me directly. I would love to share my experience or start a project to clarify your company’s  message!