10 Storytelling Takeaways from Donald Miller and StoryBrand


Chances are, you’re getting your business story—and marketing copy—all wrong. Don’t worry; you’ve got plenty of company, myself included.

Listening to a presentation by Donald Miller, author of the best-selling book “StoryBrand,” I was laughing—and cringing. The focus of Miller’s talk was clarity around how we present our offerings (products and services) to prospects.


Here are 10 gems from Miller’s keynote at the EntreLeadership Summit. The final one is a video clip (above) from my follow-up interview with Miller.

  1. On knowing your place: “Your brand is not the hero. Your customer is the hero.”
  1. On helping your customers survive: “Everything humans think about is about survival. Associate your products and services with your customer’s survival, or they’ll tune out.”
  1. On competitors: “Take down the competition by being clear. Don’t be vague or define too many offerings.”
  1. On customer confusion: “If you confuse, you’ll lose. Never confuse your customers. If they’re in a fog, they’ll walk away; they won’t go through it.”
  1. On clarity: “Clarity beats creativity. Everyone’s creating. What stands out is clarity.”
  1. On what people want from you: “First, talk about empathy and why you care about your customer. The second is authority. The one-two punch is: I feel your pain, and I care about you.”
  1. On cutting to the chase: “Highlight what the problem is and how people can get out of it quickly.”
  1. On being the guide, not the hero: “Show people that you’re the guide: ‘This is how we work together.’ Light the path for them to follow and let them be the hero of the story.”
  1. On buy buttons: “People aren’t going to websites to read…we must simplify what we offer. Stand in the confidence that this is what I can do for you. Give people something to accept or reject fast. Don’t use passive language. What words do you use to encourage people to buy from you?”
  1. On why business owners must step out of the spotlight: (See video clip above)Transcript: “Most companies feel like they have to tell their story in order for business to explode, and they don’t have to. They need to invite customers into a story. It sounds like a subtle difference, but it’s actually pretty big. What I mean is nobody cares that your grandfather started the company or that you’re trying to increase your ‘Great Places to Work’ metric. What they care about is their survival, their winning in the end and their feeling of a resolution of pain or problem. Those are the things they are thinking about. We need to invite them into a story where their problem is resolved, and they win in the end. Then they are much more likely to do business with us.”

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