Have you ever wondered whether you’re telling your prospects the right marketing story about yourself and the service you provide?

If you’re like most financial professionals, you already understand the importance of a story in marketing, but you haven’t taken much time (if any) to study how to tell the right story to resonate with your target audience.

Recently, I interviewed Donald Miller, the CEO of StoryBrand. He’s consulted with hundreds of companies to help them clarify their marketing messages, including Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Chick-fil-A, Charity Water and Intel Corp., to name a few. Donald (Don) Miller has also published seven books.

At StoryBrand, Don and his team coach clients on a seven-step framework to successfully tell a story that clarifies their clients’ messaging to create better websites, elevator pitches and marketing materials.

Don says every effective story follows the same seven steps. They are:

1. Starts with a character

Every good story starts with a character, usually one the reader can identify with in some way. One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to be the hero of their own story. Your customer should be the hero of your marketing story, not you.

2. Has a problem

Every effective story centers around a character who has some sort of problem or challenge. You need to understand the problem your customer has that you can help solve. This is the problem that needs to be featured in your marketing story.

3. Meets a guide

In step three, our main character meets a guide who can help him solve his problem. Guess what? You are not the main character of the story, but you are the guide. Your marketing story needs to make this clear.

4. Has a plan

In the fourth step, the guide gives the main character a plan for solving his problem. Remember, you’re the guide, so this is your plan. (You do have a plan, right?) Ultimately, your story needs to get your prospect imagining what your plan is going to do for him.

5. Call to action

Finally, the main character comes to the point in his story where he has to take action. The guide encourages him to make a decision to act and follow through. It’s make-it-or-break-it time.

6. Success

Last but not least, the main character either uses the plan to find success — which is the outcome you want — or he encounters

7. Failure

Failure does happen in some stories, but it should not be a prominent feature of your marketing story — unless it’s about the failure somebody experienced by not following your plan.

So does your current marketing story follow these seven basic steps? If not, it might be time to update your messaging.

Story is woven into just about everything we do, even financial services.

This post originally appeared on InvestmentNews.com.

Neither Brad Johnson or Advisors Excel is affiliated with the products or services mentioned in this article, nor do they guarantee the accuracy or quality of their services. Financial professionals are ultimately responsible for the use of any materials or services and agree to comply with the compliance requirements of their broker-dealer and Registered Investment Advisor, (if applicable) and the insurance carriers they represent.

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