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StoryBrand: Putting Your Message to Work

Whether it be at a corporate function, networking event, or backyard barbecue, someone is going to ask you, what do you do? In my opinion, it’s easy to overlook how important the answer to this question can be.

In this blog, I will share how to develop a one-liner, as StoryBrand calls it. You're probably more familiar with calling this your elevator pitch. I'll also review how to get your internal employees to use this line to tell people exactly what you do and who you help.

Why is a one-liner or elevator pitch so important? 

When asked what they do, most people respond with either not enough information or way too much information. When you share too little information, a person doesn't have enough context into what you do, where the latter is what Donald Miller of StoryBrand likes to call giving someone a bowling ball to hold. The more information, the more bowling balls. Imagine trying to hold one for the length of a conversation, let alone three. That’s why communicating clearly and quickly is so important. 

How do we make sure our message is clear?

 This is where our team utilizes the StoryBrand Process. By guiding you through this process, we help you or any of your employees tell someone exactly what you do; and who you do it for. 

For example, say you are a salesperson for a manufacturer who makes custom electrical components for the medical device industry. If someone asks you what do you do, and you respond that you work in sales for a manufacturing company, you don't really give much insight into what you do or who you do it for.

 If you start telling them how you help your clients decide between the correct solenoids for their kidney dialysis machines, you are handing them a large bowling ball. Chances are, they don’t know what a solenoid is, and they don’t know the first thing about kidney dialysis other than it being a medical treatment. 

Always remember-- if you confuse, you lose. StoryBrand helps you avoid confusion. 

StoryBrand Process - One Liner Development

The StoryBrand process is based on the idea that people have told and consumed stories following the same narrative since the beginning of time. Movies such as Star Wars, The Hunger Games, and Happy Gilmore, also follow the same framework. A character (your customer) has a problem. They meet a guide (you), who gives them a plan and calls them to action. This leads them to success and helps them avoid failure.

 If you would like to read more about that process, you can check out Rob’s blog- The StoryBrand Process. This process helps your organization dial into your overall messaging as a whole. Out of this process, we can then approach developing an answer to that question: What do you do? 

 If you want to try and develop your own elevator pitch or one-liner, try describing the problem, the solution, and the reward. For my sales rep example, this is what it might look like:

“Engineers have a lot on their mind when developing new products. I guide them when deciding on custom electrical components for their projects. This helps them feel confident that they get the right parts the first time.” 

See how that response was less of a bowling ball? It told them exactly what you do, who you do it for, and why it’s effective. The person asking now has just enough context to understand that you don’t just sell custom electronic solenoids, but instead, you are the guide to engineers that need to avoid a problem. This helps position you in their mind as someone who helps those engineers, and in the best cases, they might know a new engineer you should talk to. 

What do I do with my new elevator pitch or one-liner? 

Changing what you say is hard. Changing what your organization says can be even harder. Here are three simple steps to quickly change the way you describe what you do.

Step One: Learn the StoryBrand Process

I admit, this process changes the way you think about an elevator pitch. So if time permits, invite your team to experience the StoryBrand Process first hand. Working through the entire process helps everyone understand how you landed on the brand script, one-liner, etcetera that you did. This may be hard in a large organization, but at least exposing everyone to why and how through Business Made Simple. Watching these videos by Donald Miller and learning his rationale will enable everyone to grasp the importance of clear communication. 

Step Two: Practice your new elevator pitch 

The more you practice it, the more it can become a habit. Practice it yourself, but also make it a point to practice with your team. Or set aside time for everyone to practice. The more you use this pitch or one-liner, the easier it will just roll off of your tongue when asked. 

Step Three: Use It!

You will be pleasantly surprised how different people react to it compared to your old way of answering that question. Since I have started using my improved one-liner, more people have responded with, “Hey, I know someone you should talk to.” 

This is because I’ve communicated in a clear way, and positioned what I do, and who I do it for. This process is a great way to help you or your employees communicate clearly, which enables everyone you meet to better understand your organization’s message. If you are ready to upgrade your company's message, let us know and we can get started on being your guide to the StoryBrand Process. 

John Caruso
About the Author
John is the Director of Business Development at Vendilli Digital Group. Outside of work, you can find him fishing, hunting, or canning vegetables from his garden.
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