By David Martin, co-founder at Heed Public Relations
What problem does your company’s product or service solve? How does a company better connect with the ideal customer? These are the questions at the heart of many marketers’ efforts. Or at least it was for one agency leader, and finding answers to those questions drove him to start one of the nation’s handful of StoryBrand Certified Agencies, 8Bend Marketing.
Josh Davis has worked in marketing and communications for more than a decade and has watched business and marketing leaders waste their time, energy and resources on ineffective initiatives. As vice president of marketing at InfoSystems, an IT and cybersecurity firm based in Chattanooga, Davis knows the tools of the trade. When he was launching a new cybersecurity division of InfoSystems last year, InfoSystems Protect, he uncovered StoryBrand, a storytelling marketing methodology and framework to better engage with customers.
“When we decided to launch a cybersecurity services division of InfoSystems I knew we had to get it right,” Davis says. “What I found through StoryBrand was fantastic. After working through brand messaging and how to launch our new division, I was blown away. The method worked incredibly well for us. Better than we even hoped for.”
That workshop and initiative led Davis and InfoSystems CEO and President Clay Hales to found 8Bend Marketing, an agency the duo initially created to serve other IT firms. But they uncovered so much more.
Davis first pursued StoryBrand Guide Certification, enabling him to lead marketing clients through the unique framework. As he began working with contractors for web, video and social media marketing efforts, he realized it would be beneficial for each member of the 8Bend Marketing team to undergo StoryBrand training. By spring 2020, less than a year from 8Bend Marketing’s start, they became one of fewer than 20 StoryBrand Certified Agencies in the nation.
A Hero’s Journey
StoryBrand, founded by bestselling author Donald Miller, employs a strategic framework and process for a company’s brand messaging. More specifically, StoryBrand uses story to better evoke a customer’s emotional response — and to drive marketing. StoryBrand and its BrandScript messaging position a potential customer at the center of the story — as the hero of the story – and the business as a guide to help them on their journey.
StoryBrand workshops enable businesses to find a better understanding of their customer’s external problem, like filling a need or finding a service, and connecting that external problem to the underlying internal problem — like a feeling or emotion. For example, a travel company might sell reasonably priced getaways to European locations. But the story and emotion behind that company could be the feeling of freedom and adventure from traveling to worldly destinations. When a company can understand how their products and services can meet a customer’s internal and external needs through marketing messages, they can be more effective with their resources.
“Effective marketing has to speak to people on a human level,” Davis says. “Marketing messages need to build trust and empathy. Without that trust and connection, a business will never reach its potential. I started 8Bend Marketing because of the success I saw with InfoSystems’ use of StoryBrand. In just a few months’ time, I’ve worked with more than a dozen other companies to create powerful stories that have transformed the way they do marketing.”
Reaching Marketing Professionals
As a leader at 8Bend, Davis is eager to help clients find their voices — and better listen to their customers’ needs by positioning the target audience in a brand’s story as the hero.
“At many companies, the biggest marketing misstep is to talk about the available products and services and position your company as the hero,” Davis says. “Using StoryBrand frameworks, we guide companies to position themselves to not just understand their customers’ needs and feelings but to demonstrate how they can make their lives better.”
Buying is an emotional process. Customers may not necessarily buy the best product but make a buying decision based on a gut feeling, instinct or emotion. By tapping into the core, underlying feelings and emotions through specific storytelling, StoryBrand Certified Agencies like 8Bend Marketing help marketers craft messaging across multiple platforms, ensuring a consistent story and appeal at every point of the process from pitching to customer-facing materials.
“Creative marketing professionals in cities like Chattanooga are often underappreciated and underpaid. One big reason is that small businesses don’t understand how to best utilize their creative skills,” Davis says. “Business owners see things in terms of profit sheets and cash flow statements. Creatives typically aren’t wired that way and can struggle to show tangible returns on their work in the form of new customers and revenue. As a StoryBrand Certified Agency, 8Bend Marketing helps businesses create a story using simple, natural language that people remember. Marketing campaigns and sales materials that use this type of story lead to much greater returns. When we can help companies grow their sales and marketing efforts in a meaningful way, everybody benefits.”
Davis, Hales and the 8Bend Marketing team look forward to supporting small and medium-sized businesses with dynamic marketing solutions backed by the StoryBrand certification. Team leaders are available as StoryBrand Guides and to work with clients through the StoryBrand platform.
“I invested in StoryBrand certification because I believe small and mid-sized businesses deserve more for the money they spend on marketing,” Davis says. “We are doing whatever it takes to ensure the 8Bend team is trained to deliver incredible, meaningful results to clients.”