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How to Grow Your Business Using Storytelling

Did your last marketing or advertising effort fail to deliver what you hoped? Are you losing business to the competition when you know you have a better product? 

It may be time to take a look at your brand messaging. Are you providing a clear message about who you are and what you do? Do your customers understand how you can help them?

In Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, The New York Times best-selling author Donald Miller explains the secret to success is knowing your customer needs to be the hero of the story—not your brand. He advises brands to place themselves in the middle of the customer’s story when they talk about their product.

His book also shares the seven ingredients for a powerful story so readers can clarify their brand’s messaging and connect with customers to grow their businesses. Check out the seven components of a powerful story below.


1. A Character

Every story begins with a character who wants something, and most companies do not clearly explain what they offer. To understand the customer, aka your hero, answer this question: What do my customers want? 

2. Has a Problem

If you haven’t clearly defined the problem your business solves, you’ll fail to draw customers in. As a company, you sell a solution—but in your branding, you need to focus on the customers’ problem. When you define the problem you solve for your customers, you will have their attention. To define the customer’s problem, answer this question: What is the customer’s problem, and what do you offer as a solution?

3. And Meets a Guide

According to Building a Storybrand, customers aren’t looking for a hero (they’re the hero!). They are looking for a (helpful) guide. Present your product as the tool they need to save the day. To position yourself as a guide, answer this question: How am I guiding customers through their problem and to a solution?

4. Who Gives Them a Plan

Make it easy for your customers to choose you and your product. Help them overcome any barriers toward buying from you—don’t forget to tell them how easy it is to work with you and how they can buy from you. When creating a plan, answer this question: Do you have a simple plan that makes it easy for customers to do business with you?

5. And Calls Them to Action

To make the sale, don’t forget to include a call to action (CTA). This CTA must be clear—don’t let it get lost in your other messaging or among the many elements on your website. Answer this: Do you have a clear call to action across your marketing and advertising materials?

6. That Helps Them Avoid Failure

Do you know your customer’s pain points? What is at stake if they do not buy your product? Help your customers understand the negative consequences if they miss out on your product or go with someone else. To demonstrate what’s at stake, answer this question: What happens if the customer does not do business with you?

7. And Ends in a Success

Show customers how your product can positively impact them! Your brand images and story should show their problems being solved with your product—and a happy ending for all. 

To ensure your messaging ends with a win, answer this question: How are you showing a successful ending for your customer and product?

The seven storytelling elements from the book Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen will get you on the road toward communicating a clear message that customers can engage with. We’ve all heard about the power of storytelling, so are you ready to share your story? Hardware Retailing is a hub for engaging industry news and stories, and we offer a range of advertising options to help you get your compelling message to the right audience.


Hardware Retailing, published by the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA) offers nearly 34,000 readers with how-to management and new product advice every month. Hardware Retailing offers a range of digital and print advertising options to help you get your message to key buyers in both the retail and wholesale markets. And, the revenue generated from advertising is reinvested to produce education and research for the independent home improvement channel. Download our media kit for more information.

Author avatar

Julie Leinwand

Julie Leinwand is the corporate communications manager and editor for NHPA. She graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism. In her spare time, she enjoys baking fanciful desserts and spending time with her puppies and husband.

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