The Power of Stories in Marketing

AUG 21, 2020
Sean Campbell

What makes a great movie?

Is it the actors? The special effects? The sets and locations? The director?

Well, yeah.

All of that matters. But that’s usually not what makes a great movie.

The story makes the movie.

Stories captivate.

Stories bring you on a journey.

Stories create dissonance and then relief.

Stories draw you in and evoke emotions and suspense.

Telling a great story is everything in movie making. The plot has to have a good guy, a guide, a bad guy, a problem to overcome, a great battle, and eventually a happy ending. The same is true in marketing.


Telling a great story is more important than you might think. If you want your customers to engage, storytelling must be a huge part of your brand.

A great quote about stories comes from Donald Miller, a marketing guru who operates the company StoryBrand: “A story is based on what people think is important, so when we live a story, we are telling people around us what we think is important.

Stories highlight what is important. Stories communicate our values. Stories tell others who we are and what we do.

Hmmm. Let’s think about that for a second.

What’s the most important story your business should tell?

It’s telling the story of how you help your customers win.

If your customers aren’t convinced they will win by buying your brand, services or product, then they won’t engage.

Random example: A consumer buys toilet paper and soap, two entirely different products, for the same reason. Why? They want to win over dirt and um…. poop? YES. They want to be clean! They want to win!

THIS is the story you tell.

Your story has to clearly say, “We help you solve this problem” or “Our services will help meet these needs that you have” or “We help you win by doing…”

You have to be extremely clear about what your brand does to HELP the customer.


There are ideally 7 parts to every great story. This has been around for thousands of years and it’s often known as the Hero Plot.

  1. First there’s a hero.
  1. Then the hero discovers they have a problem or a bad guy that needs to be defeated.
  1. Then there appears a guide (mentor/friend) to help them overcome the problem/bad guy.
  1. The guide helps the hero to discover a way to fix the problem on their own.
  1. The hero has to decide whether to fix the problem or fight the bad guy.
  1. Then the hero take’s action… there’s a great battle where the hero, with the guide’s help, goes to war to defeat the problem/bad guy.
  1. Finally, there’s the end result where there is a resolve. The good guy always wins.

Let’s simplify and say it again.

Good guy. Has problem. Meets guide. Guide helps. Makes decision. Fights problem. Good guy wins.

Pretty simple right?

Now let’s apply this to your marketing, SEO, advertising campaigns, social media, video, and more….

Your customer is the hero.

Your customer discovers they need a product or service.

You present yourself as a guide that can help the hero win.

You make a compelling case and present your services or product to the hero.

Your customer makes their decision based on what you presented.

Your customer takes action by giving you money for your product or services.

Your customer then wins over the problem.


Customers disengage with ads. Commercials and ads are everywhere. BUT, they engage with stories. If you marketing tells a great story… that’s an entirely different kind of engagement.

Your marketing has to speak very clearly and it has to tell the story of how you help the customer win.

It has to be so simple that anyone with any education can understand and articulate exactly what your mission is.

It has to have a message that clearly says, “we can help you.”

It has to be spoken in their native tongue using the keywords they would use.

It has to identify the specific problems and pains that your customers have and are constantly thinking about.

It has to simply present your brand as the solution by saying, “here’s how we can help you.”

It has to clearly tell how your product or service helps make the customer’s life better by saying, “this is why you need our services or product.”

It has to paint a picture of a finish line or a life-after using your product or services, where they win and all their problems are now solved.

Here’s what that means in your marketing…

With your messaging, it’s making sure that you’re incredibly clear about who you are and what you do. Make sure your language speaks to your customer. Don’t oversell or make it about how great you are.

On a website, it’s a simple as a single statement at the top of your header that clearly says, “this is what we do to help you."

For social media, it’s simply sharing testimonials or stories of your past customers who started winning after the engaged with your brand and bought into you product or service.

On SEO, it’s as simple as making sure you have the keywords that your customers will be typing into Google to find a solution to their problem.

On video, it’s having a compelling story and showing visual examples of your customer winning or your product or service making a difference in the lives of others.

For graphic design, it’s making sure that every graphic or piece of content looks and feels like the same message… we can help you, here’s how, and here is why this is going to help you.

On ads and campaigns, it’s simply just keeping your message and mission stupidly simple! Don’t oversell! Just make your copy speak right to the customer’s mind, emotions, and feelings.

For testimonials, it’s advertising stories of customers that you’ve helped and have defeated their bad guy! This sells your products and services like nothing else… someone else telling about how you helped them.

For public relations, it’s making sure that your message is loud and clear. We’re here to help. Everything we do is about helping the customer win.

For photography, it’s making sure your images are clearly telling the story of success. Smiling. Documenting a customer winning at life because they bought your product or services through photos.


Too many brands try to make themselves the hero instead of being the guide.

They try to own the spotlight and brag about all they’ve done… their years of service… family owned… awards…. THE REALITY IS THAT MOST CUSTOMERS DON’T CARE.

They are looking for a guide to help them win. They want to be the hero! That means they need a partner, a sidekick or someone who has a plan and can help them win.

Be the guide. Don’t try to be the hero.

The average customer is making their decisions purely on if you can help them. If your message and marketing stays simple, you’ll always appear to answer this and your brand engagement, sales, clicks, and revenue will go up!

That’s it! Now you know how to write a best selling book, direct a killer movie or craft an awesome marketing campaign.

Keep it simple. Speak directly to the customers problems. Don’t make about it you. Be the guide. Serve the hero. Make your messaging and marketing about helping your customers win so they can defeat their bad guy.