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4 Things I Learned from Talking with J.J. Peterson of StoryBrand


JJ Peterson post 2 copy

When someone mentions StoryBrand, the first name that comes to mind is usually Donald Miller. That makes sense—he is the creator of the Framework, after all. But there’s another name that represents the StoryBrand values, and that’s Dr. J.J. Peterson. He’s currently the head of StoryBrand, as well as the co-host on the StoryBrand “Marketing Made Simple” podcast. Most of all, he’s one of our key StoryBrand mentors here at Hughes Integrated.

We were fortunate enough to spend a couple of hours chatting with J.J. about the StoryBrand Framework and how it influences marketing strategy. We learned a lot about the technique we truly believe in, but also a lot about how his approach to marketing and how adopting his enthusiasm and authenticity can help us all succeed.

From our call, we noted four lessons that can help every business effectively position themselves to help their clients.

1) In StoryBrand terms, every person is the hero of their own story.

Story telling book image

StoryBrand focuses heavily on the hero’s journey, especially on the fact that we’re all heroes in our own stories. Each day, every one of us wakes up as the main character in our day. We’re the person the camera is following, the one facing adversity, the one who eventually beats the bad guy and saves the world.

J.J. reiterated how important it is for businesses to remember this in their marketing. If your business is positioning itself as the hero, then the messaging will clash with how potential customers see themselves. It’s like Superman flying to Gotham and telling Batman he’s the best superhero. Wrong story, Clark! 

Your brand’s marketing should focus on your client as the hero and you as their guide. This appeals to how they already see themselves while making your brand an integral part of the plot. 

2) Sales Is a Service Industry

Young sales woman on sales call

We all know the stigmas associated with the sales industry. As soon as you say “sales,” people think of the used car salesman using slimy or manipulative tactics to convince you to buy a lemon. But this unflattering picture doesn’t represent the majority of salespeople.

J.J. Peterson did an excellent job of disarming these common misconceptions by explaining that sales is a service. Salespeople exist to help their clients improve their lives or solve a problem. To explain this idea, he said the StoryBrand sales funnel is really a relationship funnel. You have to get to know someone to learn their needs and how you can best meet them.

Similar to the three basic stages of a sales funnel, J.J. proposed three stages of a relationship funnel:

  • Curiosity: Pique clients’ curiosity in a genuine way with clear messaging that addresses their problems.
  • Enlightenment: Offer value and enlightenment so they know exactly how you can solve their issue and benefit their life.
  • Commitment: Provide a clear point of action so they know the next step to working with you.

Through this model, searching for and helping the right type of prospect isn’t selling. It’s offering buying opportunities so people can be the hero of their own stories. Real sales is a service when you do it with the right heart and mindset.

3) Be clear and focused.

Word Clarity alphabet on wooden background.

Building a StoryBrand is all about creating a good story. Story is the bedrock of effective marketing, so it should always be at the center of your brand looking out. It’s easy to opt for catchy one-liners or spend tons of money on lead generators and digital marketing because they don’t take nearly as much work as crafting a StoryBrand Framework. But they also don’t yield nearly as great results.

If your current marketing strategies aren’t working, then take a minute to go back to your brand’s story. Does it address the customer’s journey and pain points? Does it make you the guide? Is your messaging clear and focused on helping your client as the hero? These are all critical elements to effective StoryBrand messaging.

A good story is the first domino for success. Whether you’re creating one for the first time or tweaking a story you’ve been using for years, it’s the number one way to position your brand messaging so people lean in and listen. If you can nail a great story, then everything else will fall into place.

4) Bring energy to every meeting

Fun meeting between people who are laughing

Perhaps the most influential point in our call with Dr. J.J. Peterson was his energy. He was excited and enthusiastic about every topic we discussed and brought such an exuberance to his approach. It was contagious!

For us, this excitement showed he truly cares about what he’s doing and who he’s helping. The benefits of StoryBrand and watching business owners succeed as they implement it fuels him to keep moving forward and doing his best. We can say, as a certified agency, we also experience the same joy and excitement every time one of our clients succeeds.

Beyond his energy was also recognition. Our CEO, Rob, met J.J. for the first time in 2015 and has seen him several times since, including at a StoryBrand conference in Nashville. He joined the Zoom call feeling certain that he would need to re-introduce himself and the business to J.J., but he immediately remembered who Rob was and what they’d discussed in the past. It made Rob feel important and valued. He wasn’t just another brand ambassador, he was J.J.’s friend.

These qualities can foster the same reactions in your clients. The desire to see others win and show them they’re important will help you build a great relationship with clients and cement a strong bond of trust. So bring energy to every meeting you have and show them you’re ready to dedicate that excitement to growing their business.

We had such a great time speaking to J.J., and his personality and insights made me proud to be a certified StoryBrand agency. It also got us excited to help other businesses succeed with this framework. So if you’re interested in learning more about StoryBrand or using it in your business, give us a call! We’d be glad to guide you through it.

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