Book Summary of Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller

Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand teaches how to create effective marketing by using a story structure that portrays the customer as the hero and demonstrates how your brand can help them achieve their goals.

Miller’s formula helps create a clear and consistent marketing story that shows how your brand can help customers achieve their desired outcomes. This guide highlights common marketing mistakes and how storytelling can fix them, while also covering the seven-part story structure and implementing it in different marketing channels.

The Two Errors That Cause Marketing Material to Fail

Miller identifies two common errors that marketers tend to make while creating marketing material, primarily because they overlook how the human brain processes information.

Error #1: Brands Don’t Articulate How They Help People Stay Alive or Prosper

Miller asserts that a brand’s marketing must show how it supports human survival or prosperity, or it risks failure. The human brain prioritizes basic needs like food and shelter, and then focuses on self-esteem, purpose, and self-actualization. Therefore, customers engage only with marketing that demonstrates a brand’s ability to help them survive or prosper.

Error #2: Brands Force Customers to Waste Calories Parsing

Miller notes that a common mistake brand make is overwhelming customers with irrelevant information, leading to disengagement. This information lacks relevance to the customer’s basic needs of survival or prosperity, causing them to disregard it and focus on more critical activities.

How to Correct the Errors: Create a Story

To address the common errors brands make, Miller suggests using a story format to communicate brand information. This approach focuses on demonstrating the brand’s contribution to customers’ survival and prosperity while eliminating irrelevant information.

Create a Story Using a Marketing Outline

Miller suggests using his StoryBrand 7-Part Framework, also known as the marketing outline, to craft a compelling story. This outline is based on the traditional storytelling structure used in commercial films. By using this approach, you can develop a “BrandScript” or storyline that narrates the customer’s journey. Once you have a storyline, you can use it to create marketing content.

Three Benefits of Using the Marketing Outline

Miller argues that the marketing outline provides three key advantages: ease of use, cohesiveness, and repeatability.

  • Firstly, you can effortlessly plug your company’s details into the outline to create a storyline.
  • Secondly, the outline ensures a unified message that can be adjusted for various products, services, or departments, minimizing customer confusion and contradictions in marketing.
  • Thirdly, having a consistent message allows for easy communication across marketing platforms and to employees.

The Seven Parts of the Marketing Outline

To better understand the marketing outline, let’s examine each of its parts.

Part 1: The Customer-Protagonist Wants Something

Miller suggests starting the story by highlighting what the customer wants and the gap between their current state and fulfilling that desire. This creates a sense of urgency in the customer to fill that gap, for example, by using your design services to transform their barren backyard into a lush landscape.

The Want Must Be Related to Staying Alive or Prospering

Miller emphasizes the importance of connecting your customer’s want to staying alive or prospering. Here are six wants that achieve this goal, according to Miller: saving or acquiring money, saving time, building community, acquiring status, creating opportunities to be generous, and finding meaning.

Customers require money, time, community, status, generosity, and meaning for survival and success.

Part 2: The Customer-Protagonist Encounters a Problem

Miller advises identifying a specific problem that your product or service solves and presenting it as a villain in the story to make it relatable to customers. For example, your online grocery delivery tool can defeat the villain of waiting in line at the grocery store.

Three Levels of Problems

Miller claims there are three levels of problems to include in your storyline:

  1. External problems, such as long grocery store lines, are tangible and straightforward for brands to solve.
  2. Internal problems, such as a lack of time, are unpleasant internal states that motivate customers to take action but are harder for brands to identify.
  3. Philosophical problems are universal questions of meaning and justice, often expressed using “should” statements.

The Best Stories Address All Three Levels of Problems

To craft a compelling story, Miller suggests showcasing how your brand solves the customer’s problem on all three levels: external, internal, and philosophical. For example, a grocery delivery service resolves the problem of wasting time waiting in line (external), relieves the frustration of not having enough time (internal), and restores balance to the customer’s life (philosophical).

Part 3: The Brand-Mentor Steps In to Help

Miller suggests that a brand needs to display competence and empathy to build trust with the customer-protagonist. Competence is demonstrated by providing solutions and showcasing expertise, while empathy is shown by understanding emotions and offering support. These qualities help the brand become a trusted mentor and guide for the customer’s journey towards their goals.

Miller advises that brands should demonstrate two key qualities to earn their customers’ trust as a mentor: compassion and competence.

Compassion means understanding and acknowledging the customer’s problem and showing a willingness to help.

Competence, on the other hand, involves demonstrating that the brand has successfully mentored others before. One way to establish competence is by showcasing customer testimonials in marketing materials.

Part #4: The Brand-Mentor Offers a Plan to The Customer-Protagonist

After establishing yourself as the customer’s mentor, provide a clear and concise plan to help them overcome their problem through the use of your product or service, advises Miller. Customers may hesitate to make a purchase due to confusion and fear, but a well-presented plan can eliminate these obstacles and encourage them to take the risk.

Miller suggests two plan types to alleviate customer confusion and fear: Instructional Plans and Promise Plans.

Instructional Plans provide clear, step-by-step instructions for purchasing and using your product, while Promise Plans list the promises you make to your customers about your business practices.

Part 5: The Brand-Mentor Urges the Customer-Protagonist to Take Action

To encourage customers to make a purchase, Miller advises explicitly and repeatedly calling them to action. Boldness and repetition show confidence in your product and help customers understand what you want them to do. Don’t be afraid to appear insistent in your marketing materials, as customers tend to choose the brand that is clear about its intentions.

For a successful call to action, be clear and direct with your customer about what you want them to do, whether it’s buying or engaging with your brand, advises Miller.

Call to Action #1: A Call to Buy

Employ calls that are clear and straightforward, such as “Purchase Now!” or “Apply Now!” to encourage customers to make a purchase. Place the call to buy button prominently on your website and marketing materials and use different colors, fonts, or sizes to draw attention to it.

Call to Action #2: A Call to Engage

Offer helpful information that positions you as a competent mentor to your customers, without necessarily funneling them towards a sale. Examples of calls to engage include educational PDFs or video series, samples of your product, or test runs. This will help customers think of you when they do need your product in the future.

Part 6: The Negative Stakes of Not Taking Action

After calling your customer to action, Miller suggests highlighting the negative consequences of not acting to create a sense of urgency.

For example, explaining how bad posture can lead to back problems and how chiropractic services can help prevent this. However, it’s important to strike a balance and avoid creating too much anxiety, as it can repulse customers, or too little, as it won’t create enough of an urge to buy.

Part 7: The Happy Ending of Following the Plan

Miller stresses the need to show customers a clear and positive outcome of purchasing your product, emphasizing simplicity and specificity. Customers want to know how your product will improve their lives, so avoid vague or complex statements. For example, use a specific tagline and show people enjoying life to advertise a bone-strengthening supplement.

The Transformation: How Do You Help Your Customer Change for the Better?

Miller emphasizes the importance of a customer’s transformation in marketing. By positioning your brand as an enabler of transformation, you become more than just a brand. Consider your customer’s aspirational identity and reward their progress once they achieve it.

Implement Your Storyline

Miller suggests transferring the storyline you created to your marketing materials. By implementing the storyline in your marketing, you can attract more customers to your brand.

Miller suggests implementing the storyline in six ways:

  1. Overhaul your website: Your website should have only essential information and everything should be inspired by your storyline.
  2. Write a brand logline: Create a short and memorable phrase that answers the question: “What does your company do?” Use elements from your storyline such as the customer-protagonist, the problem, the plan, and the happy ending.
  3. Start an automated email campaign: Create an automated campaign consisting of four pre-written emails to ensure your brand remains top of mind for customers. The goal is to make customers think of you first when they need a product or service.
  4. Showcase testimonials of transformation: Share customer testimonials that describe how your product transformed their life for the better. Ask questions that prompt the reader to describe a transformation.
  5. Create a referral program: Offer rewards to customers who refer new business to you.
  6. Advertise on social media: Use social media platforms to reach your target audience and share your storyline with them.

Book Summary of The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman

The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman provides a detailed guide on business operations, identifying five critical processes that support any business: creating value, marketing, sales, delivering value, and managing finances. Kaufman also recommends strategies to optimize these processes for achieving success.

This guide covers Kaufman’s recommendations for managing the five business processes in four parts, with a focus on finance throughout:

  • Part 1: Create valuable solutions
  • Part 2: Attract attention
  • Part 3: Drive sales
  • Part 4: Deliver satisfaction

Part #1: Create Value That Satisfies Needs

Kaufman emphasizes that successful businesses must prioritize providing value in exchange for something.

In Part 1 of the guide, we’ll cover the five fundamental needs driving people’s desires, how they assess the value of products/services, and ways businesses can provide valuable solutions. Additionally, we’ll highlight the importance of researching the profitability of potential products/services before developing them.

People Want to Fulfill Their Basic Needs

Kaufman asserts that despite appearing to have diverse preferences, people buy products/services to fulfill five basic needs:

  1. To feel good about themselves by improving their well-being, appearance, status, and satisfying their sensory desires.
  2. To connect with others, romantically, platonically, and professionally, both online and offline.
  3. To learn and grow, academically/professionally, and pursue hobbies/interests.
  4. To feel safe by protecting themselves, loved ones, and possessions from potential threats.
  5. To avoid effort by eliminating tasks that consume too much time, energy, or require specialized knowledge/resources.

Schools of Thought on What Motivates Us to Want Things

Understanding the motivations and timing of consumer decisions is essential for psychologists and marketing specialists, although Kaufman’s needs discussion doesn’t cover how we prioritize them.

By combining Kaufman’s list with four theories, we can explain why we desire certain things and how we prioritize them. Alderfer’s ERG theory groups our basic needs into three categories: Existence, Relatedness, and Growth. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs categorizes our needs into five levels: Physiological, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualization.

Murray’s Psychogenic Needs

According to this theory, basic needs are divided into two categories: Primary needs, such as the need for food and water, are essential for our survival and biological demands. Secondary needs, which fall into five categories – ambition, materialism, power, affection, and information – are crucial for our psychological well-being.

Self-Determination Theory

According to this theory, there are three core needs that drive our desires: autonomy (the need for control), competence (the need for achievement), and relatedness (the need for meaningful relationships).

How People Judge the Value of Products and Services

Kaufman states that people’s needs vary based on their circumstances, and they only show interest in offers that address their discomfort. For instance, a recently divorced person may be more receptive to romantic connection services than a happily married person.

When assessing the value of an offer, people consider both objective factors like reliability and cost-effectiveness and subjective factors like how it makes them feel and how it affects their image.

Businesses Align Offers With What People Want

Kaufman suggests eight ways for businesses to meet the five basic needs that drive purchasing decisions: create or buy products, offer services for a fee, create an asset and charge for access, supply products and services through subscriptions, rent out physical property, provide brokerage services for a commission, create and monetize attention, and lend money or offer insurance.

How You Sell Depends on What You’re Selling and Who You’re Selling To

Osterwalder and Pigneur’s (Business Model Generation) provide five different markets that business ideas fit into, each requiring a specific marketing and sales approach. These markets are not fixed, and it depends on the nature of the product or service and the target audience. Once you have determined the best approach for your business, consider which market suits your offer the best. The five markets are as follows:

  1. Mass Market: Selling to a large customer base with similar needs.
  2. Niche Market: Selling to a small customer base with unique requirements.
  3. Subdivided Market: Offering slightly different products and services to meet different customer needs.
  4. Diversified Market: Offering distinctly different products and services to unrelated customer groups.
  5. Multi-Sided Market: Serving interdependent customer groups, with an approach that appeals equally to both parties.

Evaluate Potential Products and Services Before Investing in Them

Kaufman advises businesses to test the viability of products and services before investing in them. To do this, ask yourself five questions:

Question #1: How Much Will It Take to Get It Out There?

Assess the time and financial commitment needed for developing, marketing, and distributing your product or service. Determine required resources and anticipate fixed and variable costs, including research and development, rent, salaries, supplies, and utilities.

Question #2: How Will You Finance It?

Consider the need for funding and the associated risks. If you plan to borrow money or seek investors, weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully.

Loans are easy to apply for, have tax-deductible interest payments, and improve your credit score with repayments. However, they require personal assets as collateral, have to be repaid with interest even if your business fails, and can result in higher interest rates with multiple loans.

Question #3: How Much Demand Is There?

To determine market demand for your product or service, try these strategies:

  1. Analyze how many people are searching for similar products using SEO tools.
  2. Refer to public reviews and social listening tools to understand how people value existing products.
  3. Research competitors’ pricing for similar offers.
  4. Also, keep in mind that demand can fluctuate based on availability, seasonal trends, and economic/natural events.

Question #4: How Much Competition Is There?

Assess your product’s competition and strive to differentiate your offer to stand out from others and win customer loyalty in a crowded market.

How to Analyze the Competition

Experts advise entrepreneurs to identify their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in four ways:

  1. Attend professional conferences and trade shows to observe competitors’ offerings and customer interactions.
  2. Analyze competitors’ website and SEO strategies using online tools to examine keywords, site traffic, and ranking.
  3. Examine competitors’ social media presence to learn about their platforms, content, followers, and customer responsiveness.
  4. Sign up for competitors’ newsletters to gain insights into their email marketing strategies.

Use this information to improve your product or service until it matches or exceeds what’s currently available. For instance, if you discover that your competitors are slow to respond to customer concerns on social media, develop a plan to enhance your social media strategy and provide better customer service.

Question #5: How Much Potential Is There to Expand Your Offer?

Think about how you can expand your offer to increase future sales and profits. Can you modify your offer or offer complementary products to meet additional needs?

Overestimate the Risks of Proceeding With Your Idea

Kaufman advises that when you’re passionate about your product or service, it’s easy to overlook potential obstacles and underestimate risks. To avoid this, intentionally seek out reasons why your idea may not work to make more accurate plans and increase your chances of success.

Part #2: Entice Attention

The second step in a business’s journey is to attract potential customers by tailoring its marketing approach. It’s crucial to appeal to people who’ve already shown interest in the offer. This section of the guide will cover how to make your offer more appealing.

Identify People Who Might Be Interested in Your Offer

Kaufman suggests that people are busy and make quick decisions about what’s worth their time. To get noticed, successful businesses target those who’ve expressed an interest in similar offers and focus on converting them into paying customers. It’s a waste of resources to advertise to those who have no interest in what they offer. For instance, promoting a vegan recipe book to someone who bought a book on offal won’t work, but promoting it to someone who bought a raw food recipe book would.

Persuade Them to Want What You’re Offering

To make your offer attractive to potential customers, Kaufman suggests four tips.

  1. Keep your message concise and to the point.
  2. Identify when your target audience is most receptive to your content.
  3. Demonstrate the benefits of your offer to evoke positive emotions and a fear of missing out.
  4. Use endorsements from respected individuals to establish trust.

Part #3: Encourage Transactions

The third important process for businesses is to secure sales and make a profit. In this section, we’ll cover tactics used to encourage sales and strategies for determining prices.

Customers Feel No Sense of Urgency to Hand Over Their Money

To ensure successful transactions, businesses need to act fast once they have potential customers’ attention.

However, customers tend to take their time in making a purchase decision, which is why businesses should use limitations and money-back guarantees to encourage them. Limitations, such as limited availability or an expiration date for discounts, create a sense of urgency, while money-back guarantees build trust and alleviate doubts.

How to Price Your Offer

To balance fair pricing with profit, Kaufman recommends four strategies:

  1. Manufacturing cost + profit: Calculate the cost of production and add desired profit per sale.
  2. Comparative pricing: Set prices based on the average of similar offers. Lower prices attract more customers, but higher prices signal superiority.
  3. Long-term value: If selling an asset that generates ongoing income, set the price based on its projected earnings over time.
  4. Subjective value: Determine how much your offer is worth to specific customers based on their needs and set prices accordingly.

How to Increase Profits Without Raising Your Prices

To boost sales revenue, businesses often resort to raising prices. However, there are three other ways to achieve this, as suggested by Kaufman:

  1. Increase the number of customers making a single purchase.
  2. Encourage customers to spend more by purchasing additional products or services.
  3. Encourage existing customers to make more frequent purchases.

Part #4: Fulfill Expectations

Businesses need to prioritize customer satisfaction to ensure success. This involves optimizing resources and procedures to meet customer needs.

Satisfied Customers Are the Key to Long-Term Success

Kaufman believes that satisfying customer expectations after a sale is as important as attracting new customers for business success. Satisfied customers provide long-term revenue and positive reviews, while disappointed customers lead to lost revenue, negative reviews, and damage to reputation. This repels potential customers and requires additional expenses to repair the damage, hindering business success.

Optimize Systems and Procedures to Ensure Satisfaction

Kaufman advises businesses to prioritize efficient and reliable operations for customer satisfaction and success. To achieve this, businesses must understand all tasks involved in their product or service and make incremental improvements through streamlining, cost-cutting, and resource improvement.

Prioritize Improvements That Will Make the Most Impact

Kaufman advises prioritizing impactful improvements for efficient and profitable business operations. Consider the impact and possible consequences of changes on your operations before proceeding. Separating your list of improvements into priority and non-priority items can help you allocate resources effectively.

Book Summary of Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz

Copywriting expert Eugene M. Schwartz, in his bestseller Breakthrough Advertising, emphasizes the critical role of headlines and copy in creating persuasive ads that drive sales. A compelling headline grabs the reader’s attention, while strong copy amplifies the message and motivates the customer to make a purchase.

In this guide, Schwartz’s proven techniques for creating powerful headlines and copy are presented in two parts.

Part #1 outlines how to use market research to craft attention-grabbing headlines that entice customers to read on.

Part #2 delves into Schwartz’s strategies for writing persuasive copy that drives demand for your product.

Part #1: Write a Captivating Headline

The first part of this guide outlines the purpose of impactful headlines: to grab attention, connect with customers, and set the stage for your copy. We’ll also cover three crucial areas of customer research that enable you to identify their key needs, tap into their level of awareness, and differentiate your product from competitors.

Headlines Serve Three Purposes

Schwartz emphasizes that the headline is the foremost and vital element of an advertisement. Its three functions are:

1) To grab attention by making a dramatic statement or sparking curiosity, such as “Lose $1,000 a year by not reading this” or “The secret to saving money on fuel that fuel companies don’t want you to know.”

2) To resonate with customers’ desires and promise to fulfill a specific need, as customers rely on headlines to determine if the ad’s copy is relevant to them. The headline ” Get your gas filled for half price” would appeal to drivers who are budget-conscious, but not to those who don’t drive.

3) It sets the expectation for the rest of the copy. For instance, using the “half-price gas” headline, readers can anticipate the copy to cover the drawbacks of expensive gas and present a solution to obtain a cheaper deal.

Schwartz believes that to craft a headline that grabs attention, resonates with customers, and sets expectations for the copy, you need to research three customer aspects:

  • Their desires
  • Their awareness of your product
  • Their awareness of your competitors’ products
  • Now, let’s delve into each of these areas of research.

Research Area #1: What Customers Want

To craft an attention-grabbing headline, you need to grasp customers’ desires. Schwartz asserts that it’s impractical to make customers want something, so instead, you should discern their existing wants and present your product as the sole solution to satisfy their needs.

Schwartz suggests a two-step approach to position your product effectively:

  • Evaluate your product.
  • Connect your product with the primary customer need.
  • Now, let’s examine each of these steps closely.

Step #1: Analyze Your Product

Schwartz suggests that comprehending your product can facilitate creating positive connections between customer desires and what your product provides. He advises noting the materials used, technical specifications, aesthetic details, and possible uses of the product.

For instance, if you have a dating app to market, you can assess its features like profile viewing, chat function, membership size, ad-free interface, and subscription fees. Additionally, you can consider how members might use the app to develop both romantic and friendly relationships.

Step #2: Align Your Product With the Predominant Customer Need

To connect your product to specific customer needs, group each item on your list and consider two categories of needs: primal needs (such as feeling loved) and shifting needs (such as expecting an ad-free interface). Then, choose the customer need that applies to the largest potential market and target it in your headline.

Research Area #2: Customer Awareness of Your Product

To craft an effective headline, you must determine the level of awareness your customers have about your product.

Schwartz identifies five levels of awareness and recommends tailoring your headline to the level your customers are at. Here’s how to create headlines for each level of awareness.

Awareness #1: Customers Don’t Feel Like They Need Your Product

Level one of product awareness represents customers who are unaware of or indifferent to the need that your product fulfills. Schwartz advises creating a headline that resonates with an emotion or attitude they can identify with and then using your copy to educate them on why they need your product.

For instance, for a dating app, you could use the headline “Do you miss being in love?”

Awareness #2: Customers Feel a Need-But Don’t Know How to Fulfill It

Level two of product awareness includes customers who recognize the need for a product that fulfills their specific need but aren’t aware of any solutions yet. Schwartz recommends that the headline clearly defines the need, conveys a sense of urgency, and presents your product as the inevitable solution. For instance, “Feeling alone and unwanted? Our app can solve that for you!”

Awareness #3: Customers Know How They Want to Fulfill the Need Your Product Satisfies

For customers who know what they want but not that your product can help, Schwartz advises a headline with three components: defining the need, demonstrating its possibility, and illustrating how your product fulfills it. For example, “Find all the good dates with [app name] – fulfilling your dating needs.”

Awareness #4: Customers Aren’t Sure About Your Product

Schwartz recommends targeting customers at the fourth awareness level by focusing on one of five objectives in your headline: reinforcing their need for your product, emphasizing the benefits of your product, proving your product’s effectiveness, clarifying how your product works, or addressing common objections.

For example, “Don’t settle for mediocre dates” reinforces the need for a better dating experience.

For customers who are unsure if your product can meet their needs, Schwartz recommends five approaches for crafting an effective headline: reinforcing their need for your product, emphasizing the benefits of your product, proving your product’s effectiveness, clarifying how your product works, and addressing concerns.

For customers who are already aware of your product and just need a push to make a purchase, Schwartz suggests incentivizing them with a discount or promotion in your headline.

Research Area #3: Customer Awareness of Your Competitors’ Products

After identifying customer needs and product awareness, evaluate their knowledge of competing products to gauge how to differentiate your product. According to Schwartz, two types of customers require different strategies for product differentiation:

  • Those who are unaware of competing products
  • Those who are aware of competing products.

Customer Group #1: Unaware of Competitive Products

Schwartz advises that if customers are unaware of similar products, your headline should be simple and direct. For instance, “Effortlessly find love!”

Customer Group #2: Aware of Competitive Products

Schwartz advises that if customers are unaware of similar products, use a simple and direct headline such as “Effortlessly find love!” If customers are aware of a few competitors, expand on their headline and explain why your product is better.

For example, “The fastest and easiest way to find love.” For customers aware of many options, your headline should either emphasize a new benefit, like “Guaranteed perfect match in under 60 seconds!” or appeal to emotions, like “For those who know life should be better.”

Part #2: Write Persuasive Copy

To create an effective advertisement, Schwartz suggests four strategies for writing copy that reinforces the message in your headline.

Copy Strategy #1: Evoke Customers’ Aspirations

Schwartz advises targeting customers’ aspirations by highlighting how they are missing something and showing how your product can help them become their ideal self. This creates dissatisfaction and primes customers to seek a solution. For example, phrases like “Tired of being single?” and “Make your friends jealous with our app!” can be effective.

Copy Strategy #2: Explain Exactly How Your Product Fulfills Their Need

Schwartz advises explaining how product features fulfill customer needs by referencing product analysis such as materials used, technical specs, and aesthetic details. Use these features to showcase how your product effortlessly fulfills customer needs, such as “Our unique algorithm ensures that every match is compatible.”

Copy Strategy #3: Use Endorsements to Prove Your Product’s Effectiveness

Schwartz advises including expert recommendations, customer testimonials, or celebrity endorsements to serve as social proof that your product can fulfill customers’ needs. For instance, “Our app helped [Celebrity] find true love!”

Copy Strategy #4: Emphasize Your Product’s Superiority

Schwartz advises highlighting competitors’ weaknesses and promoting your product’s superiority to establish it as the top choice. This works well because informed customers require assistance in distinguishing between similar products. By emphasizing your product’s advantages over competitors, customers can judge it as the best option. For instance, “We ensure user profiles are accurate, unlike other apps, so you always know who you’re meeting.”

Book Summary of Business Made Simple by Donald Miller

Donald Miller believes that the reason you may not be making enough progress in your business career is that you’re not adding enough value to your company. Miller suggests 11 methods to become a good investment for your company, from acquiring value-adding personal attributes to successfully carrying out a strategy.

By following his advice, you can learn how to add value to your company no matter what your role. Creating a StoryBrand is a book by Miller, the owner of StoryBrand, a firm that assists businesses with story-based marketing message.

In this manual, we’ll add psychological knowledge and advise from other business experts to Miller’s suggestions.

Your Goal in Business: To Be a Good Investment for Your Company

Adding value to a company by generating profits is key to succeeding in business, according to Miller. This ability can lead to career advancement or entrepreneurial success, as leaders and investors prioritize it. For example, creating a successful marketing campaign that brings in new prospects and revenue is more likely to get you noticed and promoted compared to simply fulfilling job requirements.

11 Ways to Investing Well for Your Business

Miller provides 11 sequential steps to become a valuable investment for your company.

Trait 1:

Successful professionals recognize themselves as valuable economic assets to their companies, quantifying and explaining their value in terms of revenue generated or sales made. They aim to earn back at least five times their salary, resulting in a modest profit for the company.

Trait 2:

To succeed and be a valuable asset to your company, you must see yourself as an active agent in your life. Making excuses and playing the victim will hinder your growth and success. By pursuing new goals actively, you can learn and develop.

Trait 3:

Reacting calmly to problems is a valuable trait that can earn you respect and help you accomplish more. By handling problems gracefully, you can conserve mental energy for yourself and others.

Trait 4:

Being open to feedback is a key trait for success. Seeking regular feedback from mentors and friends can help you improve and excel, even if it’s initially challenging to hear.

Trait 5:

Successfully managing conflict is crucial for progress. To navigate conflict productively, Miller recommends accepting it as a part of moving forward, avoiding intense negative emotions, showing respect for the person involved, and prioritizing resolution over being right.

Trait 6:

As a manager, prioritizing respect over being liked is crucial for the success of your team and company. You can earn trust by setting clear goals, clarifying individual responsibilities, and rewarding achievements.

Trait 7:

Being action-oriented is key to completing projects. Merely intending or planning to do something isn’t enough; you must follow through with action.

Trait 8:

Trusting in your knowledge and taking action leads to faster progress than procrastinating or avoiding difficult decisions.

Trait 9:

Maintaining a positive outlook on the outcome of your actions leads to taking more risks, resulting in greater long-term rewards.

Trait 10:

Believing in your ability to improve means failures are viewed as growth opportunities. You can take on greater challenges and rise to meet them, leading to growth, improved skills, more responsibility, and higher pay.

Step 2: Become an Effective Leader by Creating a Company Story

Miller’s second step for becoming a valuable asset involves creating a company story to become a successful leader. A company story explains the reason for the company’s existence and why people should engage with it.

Without a clear story or mission that includes every employee, the company will lack direction and fail. To create a company story, start by writing a mission statement that inspires action, using a template such as “We will accomplish [goal] by [date/year] because of [why achieving the goal is important].”

Then, define the traits employees must possess to fulfill the mission and determine three repeatable actions they should take daily to achieve it.

Step 3: Enhance Productivity by Focusing Only on Critical Tasks

Miller’s third step towards becoming a valuable company investment is to manage time effectively by prioritizing tasks that offer the highest return on energy investment. Miller recommends creating two task lists: one with three crucial tasks to complete each day and another with less important tasks to delegate or eliminate. It’s important to complete the top three tasks first, even if only partially done, to increase productivity.

Step 4: Visualize Your Business as an Aircraft to Become an Experienced Marketer

Step four in Miller’s guide to becoming a valuable employee involves learning to strategize effectively. He suggests visualizing the company as an airplane with five parts – body (overhead), wings (products/services), right engine (marketing), left engine (sales), and fuel (capital and cash flow). Balancing these divisions is essential for maximizing success.

For instance, if the body of the plane becomes heavier, the marketing and sales engines must be powerful enough to keep it aloft. Miller advises keeping overhead low, ensuring profitable and popular products, testing marketing with a website, building a sales funnel, and monitoring cash flow to stay airborne.

Step 5: Base Your Messaging on a Story the Customer Can Star In

Step 5 in adding value to your organization is crafting effective marketing messaging. Miller recommends creating a story where the customer is the hero with a goal that your product helps them achieve. The hero faces an obstacle, which is the problem your product solves. You position yourself as the guide who can help the hero overcome the obstacle with a plan and challenge the hero to take action. Lastly, you explain the benefits the hero gains by taking action and the consequences of not taking action.

Step 6: Create A Three-Step Sales Funnel That Fosters Customer Trust in The Sixth Step.

To become a valuable team member, it’s important to learn marketing mechanics. Miller emphasizes the significance of a robust sales funnel in marketing strategy.

A sales funnel helps to improve sales by leading buyers through the three stages of inquiry, comprehension, and purchase. To spark curiosity in potential customers, create a concise sentence that outlines a problem, your product as the solution, and the result of using your product to solve the problem.

Step 7: Communicate in a Story Format so Others Listen

To add value to your company, you must excel in basic communication, particularly presentations, according to Miller. In sales presentations, follow the story structure and focus on the problem you’ll solve, your solution, and how it will change the customer’s life.

Connect every subpoint to your main point, and limit the number of subpoints to three or four. For a unique and memorable presentation, consider weaving in other stories and keeping it short. Gallo suggests a maximum of 18 minutes, as anything longer will cause the audience to tune out, regardless of the presentation’s quality.

Step 8: Making the Sale Involving Qualifying Leads, Sharing A Narrative, And Sending Proposals

To add value through sales, Miller recommends qualifying leads to avoid wasting time and money. Ask if they have a problem your product solves, if it’s within their budget, and if they have the authority to buy.

Miller also suggests pitching in a story format, highlighting the customer’s problem and proposing a solution with references to past success. Lastly, provide a document or video summarizing your pitch for prospects to reference.

Step 9: Negotiate Effectively by Determining the Other Party’s Negotiating Style

Step 9 is about developing negotiation skills to add value to your company. According to Miller, there are two types of negotiation: cooperative and adversarial. In a cooperative negotiation, both parties aim for a win-win outcome, while in an adversarial negotiation, one or both parties want to win at the other’s expense.

To negotiate successfully, identify the type of negotiation and adjust your approach accordingly. Find out what factors influence the other party’s decision-making process and appeal to their emotional needs. For instance, when selling a used car, highlight its sleek leather interior to appeal to the buyer’s desire for a stylish ride. Finally, to end a negotiation, pretend to be dissatisfied with the outcome, which signals to the other party that they’ve won.

Step 10: Successfully Manage Groups With Metrics

To effectively manage people, Miller advises relying on input and output metrics. Input metrics measure the work put in to produce an output, while output metrics measure the actual output produced. For example, posting three times a week on social media (input) could lead to 300 new followers (output).

Step 11: Execute Well Using a Plan

To execute a project successfully, Miller recommends three steps: hold a launch meeting to determine the project’s success criteria, participants, resources, and timeline; check in with the team weekly to ensure everyone knows their next step; and publicly track input metrics to encourage the team’s progress.

In “A World Without Email,” Cal Newport suggests using task boards to manage communication and check-ins effectively. Task boards are physical or digital boards with columns representing project stages and cards representing tasks. Newport also advises delegating the scheduling of large meetings to an administrator or scheduling service.

Book Summary of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries

Successful companies don’t solely rely on high-quality products and large marketing budgets. In their book published in 1993, marketing experts Al Ries and Jack Trout identified 22 laws that determine marketing success. The authors studied well-known and lesser-known brands for over 25 years to discover the strategies that lead to success and failure. These common principles have been condensed into the 22 immutable laws of marketing.

Convince Consumers That You’re the Only Viable Option

The initial four laws of marketing aim to make your brand the preferred choice in your market. Within every significant product category, there’s a single brand that consumers immediately associate with it, such as Hershey’s for chocolate or Scotch tape for cellophane tape. The most successful brands are the ones that are perceived as the defaults in their respective categories. Follow these laws to ensure that your product is the top choice among consumers.

Law #1 of marketing stresses the importance of being the first in your field, as first entrants are more successful and tend to remain market leaders over time.

Law #2 suggests creating a new category if you can’t be the first in your field, like Charles Schwab did by launching the first discount brokerage firm.

Law #3 emphasizes being the first brand in consumers’ minds, as this is crucial for success.

Law #4 states that perception is more important than fact in marketing. Consumers’ perception of your product is your most potent weapon, so it’s essential to build your marketing plan around how people form perceptions, using laws like #8 and #15. Marketing can manipulate people’s perceptions and realities.

Focus Your Message

The second set of marketing laws emphasizes the need to have a clear and unique marketing message that sets you apart from your competitors. By targeting a specific audience and focusing on a concise message, you can get the most traction in your marketing efforts. Use these laws to define your product in a way that is appealing to customers.

Law #5: Define Your Brand with One Word. Choose a simple, specific, and loaded word that sets you apart from competitors and implies desirable qualities. For example, Mercedes used ‘engineering’ to showcase innovations.

Law #6: Avoid competitors’ words. Using a word already associated with a competitor undermines creating a unique association between the word and your brand.

Law #7: Select the most valued attribute for your product, such as fighting cavities in toothpaste. If your competitor already claimed it, choose the next-best opposite attribute, like “whitening” or “fresh breath.” Avoid similar attributes to prevent being overshadowed.

Leverage Your Market Position

The following marketing laws explain how markets behave and how you can use this knowledge to improve your marketing strategy. Understanding your position in the market is key to crafting a successful message to consumers. These laws provide insights on how to leverage your market position for more effective marketing.

Law #8: Acknowledge your position in the market and use it to inform your advertising. Be honest with consumers about where you stand in the hierarchy of brands. Avis succeeded when it changed its campaign to say, “We’re No. 2, but we try harder.” This approach gave consumers a reason to choose Avis over the market leader.

Law #9: Over time, every market becomes a two-company race, with competitors fighting for the top two spots. It’s crucial to secure and maintain one of these spots to succeed.

Law #10: If you can’t be the market leader, embody the opposite of what they do best. Consumers are naturally drawn to the most popular brand or repelled by it. Stake your claim on the market share that wants something different by highlighting how your product is unique and better. For example, while Coca-Cola dominated the established cola market, Pepsi positioned itself as the fresh alternative for younger consumers.

Be Consistent

Consistency in product offerings is crucial for consumer trust. By focusing on positioning your product as the best and building a marketing campaign around it, customers will know what to expect from your brand. Changing your strategy or offerings will only confuse your customers and lead them to look for more familiar alternatives. Use the following laws to maintain consistency.

Law #11: As markets evolve, they tend to split into more specific categories. If a market leader wants to enter one of these new categories, they should use a new brand name to avoid confusing customers who associate the existing brand name with a specific attribute.

Law #12: Marketers must resist the temptation of short-term benefits and consider the long-term effects of their actions. For example, Miller High Life’s sales grew until they introduced Miller Lite. Although sales of Miller Lite tripled, sales of Miller High Life fell for 13 years, dropping below pre-Lite levels.

Law #13: Don’t launch new products in different categories under the same brand name. This can confuse customers and weaken your brand strength. For example, 7-Up’s market share more than halved when it introduced new flavors and diet versions of the drink.

Law #14: Running a successful marketing campaign requires discipline and sacrifice, as demonstrated by these laws.

To maintain a narrow, targeted focus, it’s essential to sacrifice certain products, messages, and ideas in three areas: product line, target market, and constant change.

Offering more products and services dilutes customers’ association with your brand. Targeted messages are more successful in expanding your customer base, and constantly changing your marketing strategy weakens your brand association. Stick to a strategy that has been serving you well for success.

Be Strategic About Your Overall Marketing Plan

Be strategic with your marketing plan by considering the big picture and your overarching tone and approach. Use these laws as a guide.

Law #15: Acknowledge negatives and turn them into positives. Denying them damages credibility. For example, Listerine embraced its awful taste with “The taste you hate twice a day,” implying it’s a powerful germ killer.

Law #16: Focus on bold moves and capitalize on weak spots of competitors. Top managers should be involved in marketing and ready to seize opportunities.

Law #17: Competitors can introduce unexpected changes, making it difficult to predict the future. Create a short-term plan focused on a unique word or concept, and pair it with a long-term direction that builds upon it to guide future plans. This reduces the risk of disruption from unpredictability.

Get on Top and Stay There

The final laws offer general business advice.

Law #18 emphasizes the importance of funding in successful marketing, even for established companies.

Law #19 advises embracing failure as an inevitable part of the journey to success.

Law #20 warns against believing hype, as media attention may not necessarily indicate a company’s success.

Finally, Law #21 urges businesses to follow trends rather than fads, as trends lead to long-term success while fads can be short-lived and harmful.

Law #22: Beware of Success

Success can lead to downfall in several ways:

  1. It inflates egos and can lead to decisions that harm the company.
  2. Growth creates demands on executives’ time, making it harder to stay involved in marketing decisions.
  3. As CEOs become more distant from the front lines, they may lose touch with important issues and challenges.

Book Summary of Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown

“Hacking Growth” is a book by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown that offers a unique approach to growing your business. Dubbed “growth hacking,” it involves rapid experimentation to continuously optimize your business for growth.

By tailoring your product and presentation to meet customer needs, you can increase revenue and grow your business. According to the authors, growth hacking is the only growth strategy that remains effective in today’s competitive marketplace. The book is a playbook for this approach and is written by two leading proponents of growth hacking, Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown.

Our guide to the authors’ method is divided into three parts: preparation, execution, and implementation. Their strategies are primarily applicable to online businesses such as ecommerce, software-as-a-service, retail, and others.

Part 1: Setting Up Your Growth Hacking Basics

Before driving your company’s growth, you need an indispensable product, a growth team, and data analytics. However, having a great product alone is not enough to attract and retain customers. Creative efforts are necessary to grow your business.

Step 1: Ensure Customers Can’t Go Without Your Product

Your product should be essential and provide an “aha” moment for your target market. Determine its indispensability by asking users how they would feel without it, with at least 40% indicating “very disappointed” for an indispensable product.

Step 2: Build Your Growth Team

To grow your business, the authors recommend building a dedicated growth team. This team should focus on finding and capitalizing on growth opportunities, as growth is critical to success in today’s competitive and fast-paced business environment. The authors suggest identifying key roles for your team, determining its focus, and identifying key growth metrics.

Growth Teams Are Interdisciplinary

The authors suggest that growth hacking involves modifying various aspects of your business, and therefore requires an interdisciplinary growth team consisting of multiple departmental members. The team should include a growth lead, an analyst for data-based insights, a product manager to align with product and branding, a marketer for consumer psychology and messaging, and an engineer for technical implementation.

Each role offers unique skills and perspectives to drive innovation and deliver an exceptional user experience.

Step 3: Set Up Your Data and Analytics

Data analysis is key to growth hacking success, helping you understand user preferences, acquisition channels, and sign-up rates. To avoid wasting resources on ineffective strategies, the authors advise making small, data-driven changes and iterating quickly. They stress that advertising campaigns should be supported by empirical data, as traditional big-budget advertising is no longer effective.

Set Up Your Instrumentation

To utilize data, set up instrumentation and track user behavior throughout their product experience. Collect both quantitative and qualitative data on a continuous basis to make informed decisions. Combining data analysis with customer outreach can help improve your product and boost growth. For instance, reaching out to users who don’t use a feature can help improve engagement and lead to growth.

Pick Your Key Metrics

After setting up your data instrumentation, focus on measuring the few metrics that impact your business the most. These are your core “growth levers,” which can be identified by looking at what correlates best with your product’s core value.

For example, if your SaaS product’s core value comes from providing excellent recommendations, your key metric could be the open rate for weekly recommendation emails, and secondary growth levers might include click-through rates and social media sharing.

Part 2: Growth Hacking in Practice

Now that you have set up your product, growth team, and data, it’s time to start growth hacking. The core practice of growth hacking is high-tempo testing in a continuous cycle. This involves finding insights in your data, generating potential hacks, selecting the best ones, and testing them. In this section, we will guide you through this process and show you how to repeat the cycle to keep moving forward.

The Growth Hacking Cycle

Growth hacking involves analyzing your product, generating growth hack ideas, experimenting with the best ideas, and repeating the process. This allows you to quickly learn about your product and users, find changes that work, and stay flexible.

The process thrives on creative solutions to tough problems, encouraging you to think outside the box. By testing rapidly, you can compound small wins into huge successes, much like compound interest. To start, aim for at least two tests per week and gradually increase the tempo over time. The growth hacking cycle consists of several phases, which we will explain below.

Step #1: Generate Insights

The growth lead and data analyst should analyze user patterns to gain insights and find opportunities for product tweaks that drive growth. Look at where you lose customers in your sales funnel, page duration, and marketing email open rates. Meanwhile, conduct user surveys to gather demographic and behavioral information, which can help you target tests on specific user segments.

Step #2: Gather Ideas

The authors recommend a constant flow of unconventional ideas for successful growth hacking. A project management tool can be used to gather ideas from the interdisciplinary team, with each idea following a template and targeting a key metric. Encouraging brainstorming and considering all ideas can lead to creative and resourceful solutions, like Dollar Shave Club’s viral video.

Step #3: Determine the Best Ideas

Team members should evaluate their ideas using the ICE criteria (Impact, Confidence, Ease) before submitting them. Impact measures the potential for significant change, Confidence gauges the team member’s certainty of success, and Ease evaluates the difficulty of implementation. The scores should be seen as a general guide rather than a definitive score. Each week, team members should nominate three ideas for discussion, and the growth lead should adjust the ratings based on their judgment during meetings.

Step #4: Run the Experiment

Assign the chosen idea to relevant team members and start working on the experiment. Collaborate with other specialties to make necessary product changes, and notify the company before implementing changes. If test results are unclear or inconclusive, assume it didn’t work well enough to pursue further and avoid wasting time on unpromising ideas.

Repeat the Cycle

Analyze the test results to identify successes and areas for improvement. The growth lead and data analyst should create a report on the test’s details, impact on key metrics, and hypothesis accuracy. Keep a team knowledge base to record and retain test results to avoid repeating mistakes.

How to Run Weekly Meetings

Growth team meetings are crucial for checking progress and strategizing for growth. Before the meeting, review completed tests and gather takeaways to discuss. The growth lead should also assess the team’s performance and bring relevant data to the meeting.

Part 3: Apply Growth Hacking to Four Areas of Growth

Growth team meetings are crucial for checking progress and strategizing for growth. Before the meeting, review completed tests and gather takeaways to discuss. The growth lead should also assess the team’s performance and bring relevant data to the meeting.

Signing Up: Hack Your Marketing

The initial step in company growth hacking is to focus on customer acquisition. This comprises of two steps:

  1. Determine your language and market fit by creating compelling marketing material that entices people to try your product.
  2. Determine your channel and product fit by identifying the most effective marketing channel for your product and optimizing it for growth.

Language and Market Fit

Craft concise, compelling language that immediately communicates how your product improves the user’s life since users’ attention spans are only eight seconds. A/B testing is a simple way to refine your language to appeal to your target market. Create two versions of a page component, such as the header, to test language, fonts, colors, graphics, and page design. Use these tests throughout your product and marketing materials to optimize your language/market fit.

Channel and Product Fit

A channel is a method (or location) of reaching consumers with your goods, such as trade exhibitions, Facebook adverts, Google search results, and YouTube sponsorships. The authors recommend selecting one channel that’s most relevant to your business. To do this, decide which marketing channels are appropriate for your company and select just one. For instance, a SaaS business should think about paid Google search advertisements, Facebook ads, email marketing, and content marketing if it wants to attract youthful, online clients. Conversely, a B2B hardware company may prioritize conferences and trade shows.

Sticking Around: Hack Your User Experience

To retain customers, the authors suggest making it easy for them to experience your product’s core value. Follow these three steps: 1) map the steps to the click moment, 2) measure how far people get toward that moment, and 3) survey your users. You may ease friction and make the procedure more straightforward to help more consumers get to the core value of your product by studying the data and survey replies.

The authors suggest two key strategies to improve user engagement:

Strategy #1: Optimize your new user experience (NUX) by running growth hack experiments to eliminate friction and improve landing page, language, aesthetics, and sign-up process. Try single sign-on and free trials that highlight core product value.

Strategy #2: Use triggers like push notifications, emails, and calls to action to keep users engaged and remind them of the product’s value. Use triggers to form a habit of using the product, but be careful not to overdo it and come off as annoying or sleazy.

Staying Loyal: Hack Your Retention

To keep your business profitable, the authors advise focusing on customer retention. To retain users, you should analyze the factors that cause them to leave and optimize accordingly. To start, break down users into cohorts based on shared traits, such as the month they joined. This allows you to track retention patterns and identify behaviors that cause users to leave.

There are three areas of retention to focus on: initial, middle, and ongoing retention. By improving retention, you can save money compared to the cost of acquiring new customers.

#1: Initial retention – Use triggers like emails and notifications to prompt users to return immediately after your NUX. Apply growth hacking tactics to optimize language and presentation.

#2: Middle retention – Use strategies like customer loyalty, product ambassador programs, and in-app rewards to keep customers interested. Reward customers that use your product frequently to create a habit.

#3: Ongoing retention – Continually introduce new features to keep your product competitive and valuable. Talk to customers for feedback and use cohort analysis to find popular features to improve. Test changes at a steady pace that won’t bother existing users.

Investing: Modify Your Prices

To maximize long-term profitability, the authors suggest optimizing revenue per customer through growth hacking. First, set up a “customer journey” funnel to track user behavior and find areas where customers drop off.

Use surveys to correlate customer behavior with sales process steps. With this data, generate ideas to adjust the sales funnel and test them incrementally to reduce friction. To optimize pricing, analyze user behavior and surveys to determine the price range customers are willing to pay. Test different prices within this range on different user segments and use pricing psychology tricks, such as .99 or .95 prices and dummy prices to bundle products and encourage spending.

Book Summary of Superfans by Pat Flynn

Superfans by Pat Flynn teaches how to build a dedicated fan base for your brand, drawing from Flynn’s personal experience as a successful podcaster, blogger, and entrepreneur. He emphasizes the importance of cultivating emotional investment in your customers, rather than solely focusing on quantity. Throughout the book, he shares the strategies he used to build his own devoted following and how they contributed to his business success.

Our guide summarizes these ideas in two parts.

Part 1, “What Are Superfans?”, defines superfans according to Pat Flynn, explains their advantages for your business, and explores how individuals become superfans.

Part 2, “Strategies for Cultivating Superfans”, delves into Flynn’s five main strategies: adding value, establishing personal connections, building a community, creating unforgettable experiences, and involving fans in your company.

Additionally, we supplement Flynn’s methods with practical advice and psychological insights from experts.

Part 1: What Are Superfans?

According to Flynn, superfans are vital for your business. In this section, we’ll explain the definition of superfans, their advantages for your company, the process of becoming a superfan, and the different stages of fandom that individuals go through.

Superfans and Their Benefits

Flynn defines a superfan as someone who deeply identifies with a brand and incorporates it into their daily life. They attend live events, purchase large amounts of merchandise, keep up with online updates, and engage in a community of like-minded enthusiasts.

Flynn emphasizes that companies like Apple, LEGO, and Harley-Davidson can have superfans too and that they are a crucial asset for your business. Just 100 loyal superfans can bring long-term success to your brand by serving as brand ambassadors, providing valuable feedback, standing up for your brand, and contributing to the company’s longevity.

Benefit #1: Superfans Ensure Your Company’s Longevity

Superfans don’t just make one-time purchases; they continue to support your business year after year, even during difficult economic times or when products don’t perform well.

By cultivating a loyal fan base, you can safeguard your revenue against the fluctuations of the business cycle. Thus, investing in superfans is an investment in the long-term success of your company.

Benefit #2: Superfans Are Your Greatest Brand Ambassadors

Superfans go beyond making purchases and actively promote your brand to their social circles with genuine enthusiasm. Their word-of-mouth advocacy has the potential to attract new customers who may not have otherwise known about your brand or trusted it based solely on advertising.

Benefit #3: Superfans Will Stand Up for Your Brand

Superfans are known for being protective of their favorite brands. They can be relied upon to defend your company’s reputation against negative comments or criticism from outsiders. In online forums and social media channels where your fan community interacts, superfans will also step in to counter harmful or offensive content. This helps to maintain a positive brand image and creates a welcoming environment for potential new fans.

Benefit #4: Superfans Deliver Valuable Feedback

Your most dedicated fans are often the ones who provide the most genuine feedback. They are more likely to participate in surveys and engage with your social media, and they are quick to bring any issues to your attention because they deeply care about your brand.

As we’ll delve into later, they may also eventually join your company and become your top-performing employees, as they are already committed to your company’s mission.

How People Become Superfans

According to Flynn, superfans are not created overnight. Fans gradually move through different levels of connection with a brand as they repeatedly have positive experiences. In this section, we’ll discuss these levels: discovering customers, interested customers, connected customers, and superfans.

We’ll also explore the kinds of repeat experiences that encourage fans to progress through these levels.

Level #1: Discovering Customers

This group of customers is your largest and they are at the initial stage of discovering your brand. They might have just stumbled upon your company through a search engine or heard of it from someone. Although they are interested in your products or services, they lack personal investment or trust in your brand.

Level #2: Interested Customers

These customers are aware of your brand and have made a purchase, but they are not yet loyal. They are willing to consider new products and services but may not necessarily buy from your brand again.

Level #3. Connected Customers

These customers are loyal to your brand and make frequent purchases. They have a strong preference for your brand over competitors and actively engage with other fans on social media and online forums. They are also likely to attend your live events and contribute to building a thriving community around your brand.

Level #4: Superfans

Superfans are the top tier, a small group of highly devoted customers who make up less than 5% of your customer base. They buy everything you offer and eagerly seek out new products and updates. Superfans attend live events, serve as brand advocates, and take on leadership roles within the fan community, such as organizing events, networking, or leading social media conversations.

How To Turn Customers Into Superfans

According to Flynn, customers progress from discovery to superfandom through repeated positive experiences with the brand. It’s not enough for customers to simply buy and like the products; becoming a superfan requires more. While some customers may start off skeptical or disengaged, a series of meaningful experiences can lead them towards increased engagement and loyalty.

Part 2: Strategies for Cultivating Superfans

Let’s explore Flynn’s five strategies for building a devoted base of superfans: create value, offer personal connections, build community, provide memorable experiences, and involve your fans in your company.

Strategy #1: Create Value

According to Flynn, the initial step in providing positive experiences for your customers is by offering genuine value through your product or service. Your marketing and social media presence won’t matter if customers don’t find value in what you are selling. Flynn suggests four ways to create value for your fans: solving real problems, aligning with their long-term goals, delivering fast results, and providing great customer service.

Value Add #1: Solve People’s Problems

To create a positive first experience with your brand, Flynn suggests identifying the problem your product or service can solve. Look for online discussions about challenges and difficulties that your target audience faces and design your offering as a solution. For instance, if you want to start a landscaping company, search for forums where people complain about lawn care problems and create a service that addresses their needs.

Value Add #2: Align Your Business With Your Fans’ Long-Term Goals

To create long-term value for customers, Flynn suggests highlighting how investing in your business can lead to a better future for them. Show customers the potential future with and without your product/service to demonstrate the value you can provide. For example, if you’re selling dental insurance, show how your product can lead to healthy teeth in old age, versus the alternative of uncomfortable dentures.

Value Add #3: Provide Fast Results

Flynn suggests that offering quick and easy wins can provide immediate value to customers and create a sense of excitement and success. For instance, instead of pitching a long-term budget strategy, a financial advice company can help customers save money by identifying common areas where people tend to overpay. This quick win can be promoted through accessible communication channels like newsletters or blog posts to attract new customers.

Strategy #2: Provide a Personal Connection

Flynn believes that fans will have a better experience with your brand when they feel a personal connection. This means that they feel understood, welcomed, and appreciated as individuals. By creating a more personal relationship, fans are more likely to return and have positive experiences. To achieve this, Flynn suggests four strategies: learning their language, sharing authentically, reciprocating when people reach out, and getting to know your regulars.

Connection Creator #1: Learn Their Language

Flynn’s first tip for building a personal connection with customers is to use their language and word choice. By researching and using the same terminology your potential customers use to describe their problems, you show that you understand and relate to them.

This helps create a more personal connection, making it easier to market your product or service. Look for patterns in the language people use online when discussing the problem your brand solves, and try to use their terms to signal that your brand understands and cares about their concerns.

Connection Creator #2: Share Authentically

Flynn suggests that sharing your genuine self and interests online can build a strong personal connection with your customers. By sharing personal information, even if it’s unrelated to your brand, customers are more likely to find commonalities and view their relationship with your brand as a personal one.

Examples of personal details to share include your hometown, high school extracurriculars, or favorite childhood movie.

Connection Creator #3: Reciprocate When People Reach Out

Flynn emphasizes the importance of acknowledging customers who reach out to your brand. Responding to them shows that you value their attention and fosters a personal connection.

This can be as simple as a handshake, an email response, or a social media “like” or comment. As your brand grows, you may need to hire staff to help manage the load, but it’s important that they don’t pretend to be you as this can betray your fans’ trust.

Connection Creator #4: Get To Know Your Regulars

Flynn advises identifying and learning about repeat customers to strengthen their connection with the brand. Remembering and recognizing loyal customers can make them feel valued and create a positive personal connection, potentially leading to higher levels of fandom.

Whether running a physical store or an online business, paying attention to frequent engagers and finding ways to remember regular customers can make a difference.

Strategy #3: Foster Community

Flynn suggests creating a vibrant fan community to foster personal connections among fans, which he believes can be more important than their connections with the brand itself. Such communities provide a sense of belonging and meaningful relationships based on shared interests.

Building a strong community also draws customers into deeper engagement with the brand. Flynn recommends two strategies for building communities: hosting a live event and giving your fan base a name.

Community Builder #1: Coordinate a Live Event

Flynn recommends using live events to connect your fans with each other, providing an opportunity for them to meet, share common interests, and bond over your brand.

These events generate excitement and stimulation, making them a positive experience. Whether it’s a conference, Q&A session, concert, or festival, the type of event should align with your brand.

Community Builder #2: Give the Fan Base a Name

Flynn recommends giving your fan base a name to deepen their sense of community and make them feel like they’re part of a team. This creates a shared sense of identity and belonging and gives fans a reason to root for the company’s success. For example, Flynn calls his fan base “Team Flynn.”

Strategy #4: Create Memorable Experiences

Flynn suggests that creating memorable experiences can instill positive emotions in your fans, leading to a stronger connection with your brand. To achieve this, he suggests breaking up routines, providing challenges, and offering exclusive perks. By doing so, fans will have fond memories of engaging with your brand, making their investment feel more meaningful and incentivizing continued investment.

Experience Creator #1: Break Up the Routine

Flynn advises to add variety to your fan engagement strategies. Without variation, even the most effective strategies can become boring. To shake up the routine, try new things and be spontaneous.

Examples include hosting a fan art contest, incorporating humor, letting customers vote on a new product, or testing a new content format. Even unsuccessful trials save concepts from growing stale via repeated repetition.

Experience Creator #2: Give Fans a Challenge

Flynn suggests that challenging your fans can create a memorable experience that they will find rewarding. When people have to push themselves to overcome a difficult challenge, it can activate their motivation and create a feeling of success that they will remember.

For instance, a bookstore could start a book club where customers have to read a new book every week, or a gym could create a rigorous training challenge.

Experience Creator #3: Offer Exclusive Perks

Flynn suggests that offering exclusive perks to your most invested fans can create positive and memorable experiences. This makes fans feel special and important, and elevates their status.

Exclusive access to spaces or personal meetings with celebrities are some examples. Such occasions not only leave a lasting impression but also inspire followers to develop a stronger bond with the company and spend more money thereupon.

Strategy #5: Get Your Fans Involved

Flynn recommends involving fans to deepen their attachment to your brand. Four ways to do this are: letting them make decisions, offering a behind-the-scenes look, sharing the spotlight, and hiring superfans.

  • By letting fans make decisions, they feel a sense of ownership and valued.
  • Sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses creates an emotional connection with the company.
  • Showcasing fans on websites, ads, and social media makes them feel like part of the team.
  • Hiring superfans can result in committed employees and demonstrates the importance of fan contributions.

Book Summary of How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes

Learn practical techniques to overcome social discomfort and make new connections with confidence! Discover the secret to getting people to want to talk to you, and explore three parts of Lowndes’s approach:

  1. Nonverbal cues to make a good first impression,
  2. Verbal cues to establish rapport right away, and
  3. Nonverbal cues to promote meaningful talks and establish trust.

Introduction: People Need to Know You Like Them

Lowndes suggests that the key to approaching and talking to anyone is making them feel liked. This is because everyone wants to feel appreciated and good about themselves. When people are unsure if you like them, they feel uncomfortable and struggle to engage with you.

Conversely, when they feel at ease around you, they enjoy your company and like you. However, many people struggle with this because of discomfort and a fear of rejection, which can lead to unconsciously emitting negative signals that push people away.

Lowndes proposes a straightforward way to combat discomfort and signal your openness to those you wish to converse with: shift your attention from your own feelings to theirs. This means being aware of the nonverbal and verbal cues you’re giving off, which we’ll cover in the rest of the guide.

Part 1: Nonverbal Signals-Make a Positive First Impression

To excel at conversing with anyone, paying attention to your body language and nonverbal signals is crucial. Lowndes emphasizes their importance because they form over 80% of people’s initial impressions of you and affect their reactions.

In this guide’s first part, we’ll explore how body language impacts people’s perceptions of you and provide nonverbal techniques to help you appear more approachable and appealing.

Your Body Language Communicates Everything About You

Lowndes asserts that people instinctively form opinions about others within the first few seconds of seeing them. Even before speaking, assumptions are made about their personality, emotions, confidence, and social/professional status, influencing the desire to spend time with them.

Similarly, people form opinions about you upon seeing you, with body language being the basis for these judgments. Your posture, comfort level, smile, and eye contact all emit signals about your emotions, whether consciously or unconsciously.

How to Appear Approachable and Likable

Lowndes contends that in Western society, people are adept at distinguishing between nonverbal signals of liking and rejection. Given that people are drawn to those who like them, being mindful of the signals you emit can increase approachability by conveying positive sentiments. Lowndes provides five techniques to decode this nonverbal language and create a favorable impression.

Technique #1: Stand Tall

Lowndes suggests that poor posture can be interpreted as unwelcoming, while good posture can be seen as a welcoming signal. Slumping may imply insecurity or shame, while standing tall and confident can make others see you as accomplished and worthy of their attention.

Technique #2: Relax and Remove Physical Barriers

Lowndes suggests that fidgeting and guarded movements can make you appear insincere and suspicious, while a relaxed and open stance signals honesty and approachability. Keeping your arms loosely by your sides with your palms facing upwards and turning your body towards people you want to talk to can show them that they have your full attention and make them feel at ease.

Technique #3: Delay Your Smiles and Maintain Eye Contact

Lowndes suggests that quick, instinctive smiles come off as impersonal, leading to a distant response. Additionally, lack of eye contact makes it difficult for people to connect with you emotionally. Instead, to create a warm response, pause briefly and make eye contact before flashing a big, warm smile. Maintaining comfortable eye contact during conversation will signal your interest in what they have to say.

Technique #4: Pretend You’re Already Close Friends

Lowndes suggests a technique to send positive signals through your body language: Pretend you are already friends with the person you want to talk to. By doing so, you can remove the uncertainty of how they will respond to you and automatically feel more relaxed and comfortable. According to Lowndes, this pretending eventually leads to genuine affection as you send signals that put the other person at ease, encouraging them to like you and respond warmly. This creates a comfortable and enjoyable interaction.

Technique #5: Hold Their Gaze to Encourage Attraction

Lowndes advises that holding someone’s gaze for an extended period can increase the chances of a positive response from them as it makes them feel captivated. This can trigger a biological response similar to falling in love, increasing their heartbeat and adrenaline.

However, it should be used with caution as it may come across as arrogance if the other person is not attracted to you. To maintain attraction, continue eye contact, and only look away slowly and reluctantly. But, it’s important to avoid too much intensity as it may give off a negative impression.

Tune Into Their Body Language

We’ve covered how to use your body language to signal positive and welcoming messages to those you want to engage with. However, it’s also important to take initiative and approach others. With knowledge of nonverbal cues, you have an advantage in social situations.

You can identify who is approachable by their relaxed and open stance, and who is not by their guarded and fidgety behavior. Additionally, you can interpret how people feel about you during interactions by their level of engagement or avoidance, such as turning towards or away from you, or maintaining or avoiding eye contact.

Lowndes offers three ways to influence unapproachable or inattentive people to respond positively to you:

  1. Approach them anyway using the techniques discussed above and maintain a little distance to keep them at ease.
  2. Mirror their movements while maintaining an open posture and eye contact to show similarity in nature and put them at ease.
  3. Experiment with changing your tone or topic of conversation to trigger their interest and put them at ease, which will be reflected in their body language.

Part 2: Verbal Signals-Create Instant Rapport

To make your conversations more enjoyable, it’s essential to use the right verbal signals. Lowndes recommends four techniques to put your conversation partners at ease and make them feel liked.

Technique #1: Use and Take Notice of Visual Gimmicks

Lowndes recommends using something unique or interesting, such as a piece of jewelry or a colorful shirt, as a conversation starter. This will give others an excuse to approach you and give you something to discuss. It’s also helpful to pay attention to what others are wearing or carrying, so you can start a conversation by complimenting them and showing your interest in them.

Technique #2: Ask for Introductions

Lowndes recommends using mutual acquaintances to make introductions as an effective way to approach new people. Before the introduction, ask for some details about the person’s hobbies or interests to show your interest and start a conversation.

Get information from your contacts to identify a mutual interest as an icebreaker if they are too busy to introduce you. Then you can easily approach someone new by saying something like, “Hey, I was just talking to … and she told me that you …”

Technique #3: Prepare Stimulating Responses to Common Questions

Lowndes advises against giving simple fact-based responses to common questions like “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” as it may not lead to engaging conversations. Instead, she suggests adding interesting facts, jokes, or observations to your responses that will stimulate a response from your conversation partner.

The type of response you give should depend on the social context and the person you’re talking to. For example, for casual conversations, keep your responses fun and general, while for networking purposes, highlight your work and relevant interests.

Technique #4: Research Interesting Things to Say in Advance

Lowndes provides four ways to prepare for interesting conversations:

  1. Know who will be there before accepting an invitation, so you can anticipate the topics of conversation.
  2. Keep up with the news to have common topics to discuss.
  3. Try new activities to broaden your interests and ability to connect with people.
  4. Expand your vocabulary by finding words that reflect your personality and make you sound more interesting.

Part 3: Verbal Signals-Encourage Meaningful Conversations

Lowndes suggests that building an emotional connection is key to moving beyond superficial conversations. An emotional connection is when people trust each other enough to reveal more about themselves, which can lead to more meaningful conversations.

Lowndes proposes four techniques to develop trust and establish an emotional connection.

Technique #1: Make Your Interest in Them Clear

Lowndes recommends two techniques to build trust and develop an emotional connection with your conversation partner. First, ask them questions about their interests and give them space to talk about themselves. Then, relate your own interests to theirs to show your genuine interest. Second, remember details about the person for future conversations, as it demonstrates that you’ve been paying attention to them and care enough to remember little details.

Technique #2: Present a Positive Image of Yourself

Lowndes suggests being cautious about revealing your flaws because it can have different effects depending on your status.

Technique #3: Maintain a Positive Image of Them

To make others feel comfortable and accepted, focus only on their positive qualities and avoid making jokes at their expense or pointing out their faults. This approach, according to Lowndes, shows that you appreciate and value them for who they are.

To build a deeper connection, focus on their positive qualities and avoid criticizing or joking at their expense. Compliment them sincerely by acknowledging their interests and qualities, which will make them feel valued and encourage them to open up further. For instance, you can say, “Your children are lucky to have you” when discussing parenthood with someone.

Technique #4: Foster Empathy Through Mirroring Techniques

According to Lowndes, people are more likely to reveal the truth about themselves to those who share similar traits, interests, and values. To encourage people to see you as similar to them, Lowndes recommends four tactics.

  • First, match their mood and tone to show empathy.
  • Second, echo their specific words to show shared values.
  • Third, use short empathetic statements that match their senses to show understanding.
  • Finally, use “we,” “us,” and “our” to imply friendship and create a feeling of connection and intimacy.

Studies show that using “we” and “us” can make you feel happier and calmer and help you express positive emotions.

Book Summary of the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Power is a game everyone plays – you’re either a player or a pawn. Robert Greene’s book, The 48 Laws of Power, provides rules and strategies for mastering the game, based on examples from history. The laws increase your power when followed, and decrease it when not.

Deception is essential to the game, and requires an understanding of human behavior, self-control, charm, adaptability, strategic thinking, and deviousness. The 48 laws are listed in brief, and Greene warns that power can be consuming and change your perception of human behavior.

Adopt a Power Mindset

The key takeaway is to be strategic and not emotional, to pursue your goals relentlessly. One instance of this is how the Chinese Emperor Sung used strategic maneuvers to turn an adversary into an ally.

The passage also highlights several laws to follow, such as being wary of friends and using enemies, avoiding miserable people, focusing your efforts, planning through the end, getting the timing right, ignoring small problems, charting your own course, and being elusive.

These laws emphasize the importance of being aware of your surroundings, knowing your opponents, and being flexible and unpredictable to succeed.

Communicate Powerfully

These are the key takeaways and examples from Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power”. The book provides advice on how to become more powerful and influential in various situations.

The laws discussed include showing rather than telling, attuning to others’ emotions, attracting attention, disarming others by being nice, and creating a cult following. One example given is Michelangelo’s handling of criticism of his statue of David.

Other laws discussed include saying as little as possible, demonstrating your point rather than arguing, showing others what’s in it for them, and mirroring others’ emotions. The book suggests that by following these laws, one can become more successful in various endeavors.

Adopt Behaviors that Enhance Your Power

These laws of power focus on the importance of concealing your intentions and benefiting yourself while ingratiating yourself to others. The examples provided illustrate how this can be done through cunning and manipulation.

Key takeaways:

  • Always hide your true intentions and keep people off balance to prevent them from countering your efforts.
  • Protect and cultivate your reputation as it is a crucial component of your power.
  • Use others to do your work for you and take credit for their efforts.
  • Don’t wear out your welcome and make difficult feats seem effortless.
  • Act like royalty and project supreme confidence.
  • Learn the rules of the society you’re playing in and follow them to avoid attracting unfavorable attention.
  • Make your intended victims feel smarter than you are to avoid suspicion.
  • Go along to get along and avoid making a show of being different.

Examples provided include the con artist Victor Lustig, who pretended to be a count and distracted people with his odd behavior to rob them, and Catherine de Medici, a French regent who manipulated ambitious men by appealing to their passion for women.

Take Decisive Action

The key takeaway of this passage is to be ruthless and exploit others’ weaknesses to achieve your goals. The example given is of Catherine de Medici, who controlled ambitious men by using skilled mistresses to seduce them and report their plans back to her. The following laws are discussed:

  • Law 8: Bait Your Enemy
  • Law 11: Be Needed
  • Law 15: Annihilate Your Enemy
  • Law 22: Surrender to Win
  • Law 28: Act Boldly
  • Law 31: Set Up Phony Choices
  • Law 33: Use Others’ Weaknesses
  • Law 39: Rattle Your Opponents
  • Law 40: Use Money as a Tool
  • Law 42: Squelch the Troublemaker

These laws emphasize tactics such as making your opponent come to you, making your superior dependent on you, crushing your enemy completely, surrendering when weaker, acting boldly, using phony choices, exploiting weaknesses, staying calm while making your enemies angry, using money strategically, and stopping troublemakers.

Avoid These Potential Pitfalls

These laws of power teach us how to maintain control under pressure without taking things to the extreme. Isabella, a ruler of a small Italian city-state, managed to maintain independence by appearing open to other powers without committing to any side.

To remain in control, don’t isolate yourself, don’t take sides, and don’t get your hands dirty. Enact changes slowly, watch for envy, and know when to stop once you’ve achieved your goal. Be cautious of counter-reactions to your success, and don’t let emotions push you past your victory.

Book Summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

To grasp the essence of How to Win Friends and Influence People, focus on its fundamental principles. Additionally, use the provided checklist for dealing with two typical scenarios: 1) handling arguments and 2) modifying others’ behavior with feedback.

The principles from How to Win Friends and Influence People:

  • Making someone feel important will make them like you, while diminishing their importance will make them resent you.
  • To appeal to someone, focus on their interests rather than your own.
  • To connect with someone, try to understand what they want and need.
  • Everyone has something to teach you, so show genuine interest in others.
  • Sympathizing with angry people can soften their anger.
  • Approaching people with a positive demeanor, including a smile, can make a good impression.
  • Using a person’s name and being a good listener are effective ways to show respect and build rapport.
  • Praising and showing appreciation is more effective than criticizing or complaining when trying to influence someone’s behavior.

How to Approach Arguments

Instead of losing your temper, approach disagreements with an open mind and a willingness to be wrong. Praise the other person for traits that will help resolve the argument and try to understand their perspective. Express sympathy for their situation and listen to what they have to say without interrupting.

Ask lots of questions to find areas of agreement and build understanding. When ready, ask questions that will lead them to your conclusion while emphasizing how your position serves their interests. Finally, thank them sincerely for their interest and willingness to help.

How to Give Feedback

To neutralize the sting of future feedback, praise and appreciate the person constantly beforehand. When giving feedback, start with specific praise before introducing the point of improvement. Relate to the person’s struggles by sharing your own mistakes.

Ask questions and encourage their suggestions to get them invested in the solution. Give them a fine reputation to live up to and make the improvement seem easy to correct. Connect it to something they have already done and emphasize how it will benefit their own interests.