May 15, 2018
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

I recently attended a meeting of my counterparts from across North America. One of the sessions was called “How the 7 Elements of Story Telling Can Grow Your Business.” The speaker began the conference by telling us people love, respond to, and remember stories. In my experience, I know this to be true. I still have former students tell me they can recall stories I told them 30 years ago when I was a teacher at Humber College. I’ll bet they don’t remember the course subject matter.

The speaker then made the point that our websites and marketing materials are so full of information that people get overwhelmed and confused. Often, the messages are not about the customer, but about the company. We need to put ourselves in their place and demonstrate empathy and understanding.

While he was talking, I logged into our website and tested his comments. I pretended to be a non-member interested in membership. What a wake-up call! It is very challenging for a non-member to understand how to become a member. Try this with your own website or marketing materials. How difficult is it for your customer to understand and hire you?

The speaker alluded to an excellent book by Donald Miller, called “Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.”

Spring is finally here, so to respect your time, I have chosen a few quotes from the book I hope will be helpful to you.

“Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand. This is the secret every phenomenally successful business understands.”

“The more simple and predictable the communication, the easier it is for the brain to digest. Story formulas put everything in order so the brain doesn’t have to work to understand what’s going on.”

“The first mistake brands make is they fail to focus on the aspects of their offer that will help people survive and thrive. The second mistake brands make is they cause their customers to burn too many calories in an effort to understand their offer.”

“The key is clarity. If you confuse, you’ll lose.”

“Here is nearly every story you see or hear in a nutshell: A CHARACTER who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE steps into their lives, gives them a PLAN, and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action helps them avoid FAILURE and ends in a SUCCESS.”

“All marketing material should answer the following questions: What do you offer? How will it make my life better? What do I need to do to buy it?”

Here are the seven principles outlined in the book:
  1. The customer is the hero, not your brand.
  2. Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems.
  3. Customers aren’t looking for another hero; they’re looking for a guide.
  4. Customers trust a guide who has a plan.
  5. Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action.
  6. Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending.
  7. Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them.

Here is how our story goes at Landscape Ontario: you are the hero. Your goal is to build a prosperous business that makes a positive difference in the lives of your family, employees and customers. As a business owner, life is a constant challenge to survive and thrive. You are responsible for enhancing the quality of life of your network, while trying to avoid the many pitfalls that lead to business failure. LO is here for you. We are your guide, coach and mentor. By engaging and collaborating with others who share your values and experiences, we develop a network that helps each other to succeed. We are your prosperity partner. We are each other’s prosperity partners.

Tony DiGiovanni may be reached at