Okay, so this is written by the same author as Building a Story Brand, which is a wildly popular book that focuses on the consumer/client being the hero of the story. Donald Miller says that all too often businesses position themselves as the hero, instead of allowing their customer play that role. Instead, the business’s job is to be the “guide” and, therefore, making itself the expert on the topic that has the solution to the hero’s problem. This is an extremely simplified synopsis of this large 7-part framework for marketing, but it gives a basic idea of the rationale behind it.
Thankfully, Building a Story Brand is not required reading for Marketing Made Simple to make sense. It can stand on its own and is a very quick read (only 184 pages, but with lots of photos and examples).
Let me first give you an overview of Marketing Made Simple. Miller must really love “frameworks” because he splits this book into an actionable framework as well. I am going to list the general pieces of the framework, along with a brief description of each piece here:
One-liner. According to Miller, a one-liner is “a concise statement you can use to clearly explain what you offer.” He gives the example of a movie one-liner in Hollywood. That’s the one shot you get with a customer to pique that curiosity.
Website wireframe. The website wireframe is an entire layout for a one-page website. It has nine sub-sections: header, stakes, value proposition, guide, plan, explanatory paragraph, video, price choices, and junk drawer. For an in-depth description of each of these sub-sections, you will have to read the book (I can’t give it all away!). As someone who is in a service-based industry with multiple “niches,” as I am sure many of you are as well, this didn’t seem as helpful. Instead, it seemed more like a stand alone sales page for a single product and/or service. However, overall, the book and its strategy made me feel like it was geared towards product-based businesses as opposed to service-based businesses, like photography.
Lead Generator. This is a document or some sort of other valuable resource that you can give in exchange for a potential client’s email address. There are many different types of lead generators ranging from a video to a PDF to a challenge or a quiz. The main goals for a lead generator is to prove yourself/business as an expert/authority and solve a problem for your client. In my experience, it is best for the problem you solve to have a clear solution that can show quick results.
Nurture sequence. A nurture sequence is a sequence of emails that gains the trust of the client/potential client. The intention is not to sale, but to establish yourself/business as an authority.
Sales Campaign. A sales campaign is a sequence of emails intended to sell your product/service. Miller gives a specific sequence with prompts to create a sales campaign for your business.
Finally, he gives a quick plan to implement this marketing framework into your business. This is mainly geared toward larger businesses, but he does translate what that process might look like as a solopreneur as well.
So now that we have the content covered, let me tell you some of my main takeaways. I love that Miller gives very specific, actionable tasks to quickly increase your marketing power.
- Focus on the lead generator. He says that he spends more time creating lead magnets than he does large offers! This surprised me because you would think that the large offers (like an exclusive service or large online course) would consume more time to create. Instead, he constantly tests lead generators to see which ones work best. He tests the medium in which they are delivered (PDF, video, challenge, quiz, etc.) and the content of the lead magnet. Surprisingly enough, he said he only ends up keeping about 60% of those lead generators; 40% are duds and he disposes of them rather quickly once he realizes they don’t convert.
- Ask for the sale. Phew, this one is hard for me! Miller encourages all business owners to ask for the sale. Don’t beat around the bush. Consumers like straightforward. This may look different depending on the product/service you offer, but generally people like to be told what to do. So tell them to buy your product/service.
- Prime real estate of a website is the top right corner. List a very clear call to action there. For me, as a wedding photographer, I could have a “Schedule Consultation Now” button there in the top right corner. That is a version of “asking for the sale,” giving my potential client a very clear path to enter into a business relationship with me.
- It takes an average of EIGHT touch points prior to making a sale. EIGHT!!! So whenever you think you are being overwhelming or shoving your offer down a potential client’s throat…chances are they haven’t even processed the offer the first few times you present it to them. This is tough for me because I don’t want to be pushy or too salesy. But let’s face it…my job is to sell. So this gave me a little inspiration to continue to reiterate my offer over and over.
Each time I read a new book, I do my best to pick out three small actionable tasks to implement immediately. This book was full of those, and I loved that part of it! But now to my critiques…
This was a quick read that had some really actionable takeaway tasks…but overall, it was not my favorite, and there are a few reasons why that is:
- First, it felt geared a bit more toward product-based businesses, even if that product was an online course or digital product. It can definitely be tweaked to support service-based businesses, but it would take a bit more time to make a service-based business fit the framework presented in the book.
- Back in 2020, I took a course from Amy Porterfield titled “Digital Course Academy.” The purpose of this course was to teach how to create and sell an online course. The framework presented in Marketing Made Simple was really closely related to the framework presented in that course. I did not do the research to see which course/book came first, but it felt repetitive because I had consumed that course prior to reading this book. Some of the clearest similarities were the website wireframe and the sales campaign email sequence.
- Finally, it felt like the entire book was a sales pitch. It’s a little ironic (or purposeful) that I felt I was being sold to while reading a book on how to sell…but there were very frequent reminders of how to take the next step with the StoryBrand team. He was really trying to hit those eight touch points, which kind of felt like overkill considering I was reading his book.
If you are looking for a quick marketing read as a product-based business owner, this book is going to be great for you, especially if you’re struggling to create a consistent funnel to your business. I would recommend this book for anyone that fits that description and is in the first 1-3 years of their business.
The actionable tasks are great and I would recommend doing some of those listed above if you’re a service-based business. Overall, however, this was not my favorite business marketing read.
If you liked this review, check out a few others:
So Good They Can’t Ignore You
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