HubSpot/StoryBrand Series #1: The Valuable Connection Between StoryBrand and HubSpot

Posted by: Steve Brown

Bad news: if you think of your website as “a website” in the traditional sense, you’re dead wrong. I don’t mean any disrespect––it’s just true.

Your website is actually a Content Management System (or CMS as we call it).

It’s a place for your customers and prospects to have a seamless experience between the three stages of their buying cycle:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision

To get the best results from your CMS, it needs to be set up in a way that easily guides people to the right resources using a very specific framework. That framework is called StoryBrand, and it’s based on decades of psychological research and insights into the top brands on the planet.

The best way to implement the StoryBrand framework for your CMS (or “website”) is to use the tools and systems available from a marketing software company called HubSpot.

In short, using the StoryBrand Framework with HubSpot’s tools is the best way to reach your potential customers.

That’s why I’ve created this 5-part series to explain the valuable connection between StoryBrand and HubSpot.

But incorporating the storytelling mindset behind StoryBrand with the functionality of HubSpot can be daunting, especially if you don’t see the need for both pieces of the puzzle.

Can’t I have a perfectly clear website without HubSpot or a fully functional sales funnel without StoryBrand?

To explain why you need both of these tools in your website toolbox, we need to breakdown how your customers think. Let’s start with something called the old brain.

The Old Brain

We don’t make decisions logically. You could be the most pragmatic person on earth and you still make choices with something called the old brain, a spot at the base of your skull that serves as the final filter for any decision you make.

[For more on this topic, check out Brain Rules by John Medina.]

That old brain’s job is to keep you safe from predators and ensure your survival. Sure, back in the day it kept you from getting bit by poisonous snakes and swallowed whole by sabertooth tigers, but now it has an equally formidable foe:


Cue lightning bolt and scary music.

Even as you search the web, that old part of your brain is constantly judging your environment to determine if you’re wasting our time, getting the best deal, or in some kind of physical or emotional danger.

Done correctly, clear messaging gets approval from the old brain and guides customers to make decisions that are good for them and us.

But here’s the secret: there’s a method to get past that old brain.

That method isn’t logic, numbers, facts, or figures.

It’s stories.

And the StoryBrand Framework, when applied to the messaging in the content of your Content Management System (CMS), is designed specifically to comfort your customers’ old brains, their desire to keep themselves safe, and ease their fears as they consider purchasing your products or services.

[Learn more about the StoryBrand framework in Donald Miller’s book, Building a StoryBrand.]

When your potential customer finds your website, you want things to be easy for them. If they have questions, you have resources––such as a chatbot––available to answer those questions. If they want to learn more about your services, you have a library of content available to give them more information.

When you apply the right technology correctly, you can satisfy the brain’s safety-first imperative in the exact same way story is designed to. You can cut through the defense mechanisms of your customer’s “Old Brain,” so you can reach customers when and where they are.

Good Pizza, Good CMS

Here’s how the old brain works in action. Say you’re dying for some pizza––just starving. You’ve already been to every pizza joint in town, so you pick a new spot in a nearby city.

From the second you park your car to the moment you sit down, everything is so seamless you don’t even notice.

When you step out of your car, it’s obvious where the front door of the restaurant is, so there’s no fear that you’ll accidentally step in the back entrance to the kitchen and hear a dozen curse words you never knew existed.

You walk through the front door––the smell of fresh pizza wafting through the air––and there’s a hostess standing there, immediately ready to seat you.

The moment you sit down, she puts a menu in your hand and tells you that a server will be around to help you.

When the server arrives, they offer to answer any questions about the menu and give you any extra information you might want about the food or the restaurant in general.

There’s no confusion, it’s all easy, and you feel taken care of every step of the way.

Bad Pizza, Bad CMS

Now imagine you walked into the restaurant expecting pizza, but all you smelled was the unmistakable scent of french fries and burgers. You love burgers, but you were expecting something different. After all, this is a pizza joint. What gives?

There’s a sign at the front that says “Please wait to be seated,” but there’s no hostess to be found. And once you do get seated they don’t even have menus; the server just tells you to reach out to him if you need to order something. Don’t worry, he’ll tell you if they don’t have what you’re looking for!

They might have the best pizza in the world, but you’ll either never find out (because you’ll leave first) or your experience of the product will be tainted by the anxiety of the experience.

That’s the difference between a good Content Management System and a “website”:

A good CMS is like a great restaurant that has a consistent message––you’re gonna get good pizza here––that makes you feel so comfortable you don’t even notice they’re doing anything at all. The atmosphere and ambiance all deliver an experience that unconsciously puts you at ease.

A bad website is like a restaurant that makes you so uncomfortable that it doesn’t matter how good their food is, you’re still never coming back.

Using StoryBrand helps you stay congruent, so when people come to your website and see your menu, it’s in line with what they expect.

The Elements of Good Messaging

A good CMS will have very clear messaging using the StoryBrand framework, which consists of the following elements:

Calls to action (both direct and transitional, which we’ll discuss)

Aspirational imagery

Very few words

A plan

At the risk of sounding self-promotional (Who am I kidding? I love it), I’m going to use our very own ROI Online website as an example.

The ROI Online homepage website

1. Calls to Action

As mentioned above, everyone is at a different stage of the buyer’s journey. They may just want to poke around your content to get a feel for your business, or they may already know they want to buy.

You want to accommodate them wherever they are with two different types of calls to action:

  1. Transitional calls to action
  2. Direct calls to action

Transitional CTAs are buttons visitors can click when they’re interested in your topics but aren’t ready to meet with your team yet. Right there at the top of our home page, we have a transitional CTA: “Grow your business in [the current year] with these 5 marketing tools. Get your free guide.”

If the transitional CTA sounds familiar to you, it’s no surprise. Transitional CTAs happen to be a critical part of the StoryBrand methodology. Metaphorically, the transitional call to action is for people who aren’t ready to get married but still want to date and get to know more about what you have to offer.

Free guides, videos, and other beneficial downloadable offers are perfect for transitional CTAs. It’s important to note, however, that if that free guide isn’t quality content, it won’t help you get more “dates” or more “spouses” from your clients.

Now, part of your system will require the potential client to give up some information, such as their company name, website URL, and email address (HubSpot will help you categorize that information, which we’ll discuss in articles #2 and #3 of this series).

You may give away your content from the transitional call to action for free, but if they’re willing to click on the direct call to action, you’ll want to ask for more information. Why? Because they’re more committed, and therefore more likely to give you their info.

Some people prefer to get married right here and now. That’s why you have direct calls to action. On our site, “Get a Free Strategy Session” acts as our direct CTA. It’s right there in a clearly colored, clearly-worded button.

2. Aspirational Imagery

Notice that the images and colors create a certain atmosphere on the landing page. The images portray a playful professionalism, which is exactly how we operate (with a nutjob like me as CEO, how could we not?).

For your own CMS, you’ll want to use images––even if they’re stock photos and not custom graphics––that create an atmosphere that not only expresses who you are, but also puts your customers at ease.

If you run a serious marketing firm, you’ll want more serious images (you know the drill: guys with suits and ties, people in offices, etc.). If you own a sporting goods company that caters to kids, you’ll want to make the images playful, colorful, and kid-friendly (even if it’s the parents who will be going to the website).

3. Very Few Words

Rather than cluttering up our page with words that assume we know where potential clients are in the buyer’s journey, we let our customers’ specific needs guide the way.

We do that by keeping the word count on the landing page down and by implementing a chatbot.

Look at the bottom right corner of the page: there’s a little message symbol that you can click on to interact with our chatbot. (You can get your own chatbot through HubSpot and preload it with messages.) It says:

Welcome to ROI Online! Growing your business can be tricky. We have a team of pros ready to help your business grow.

What can we help you with today?”

Then it gives options:

I need help clarifying my message.

My marketing & website aren’t reaching the audience I want.

Schedule a conversation.

I don’t see what I’m looking for.

Rather than assuming that the prospect will find their way on their own, we help guide them to where they need to go. So depending on which selection you make, the HubSpot chatbot sends you toward the correct resources to help you.

4. The Plan

Now scroll down to the bottom of the landing page. It says…

4 Steps To Boost Your Marketing ROI.

Fine-Tune Your Message

Through StoryBrand, we’ll help you develop a clear and compelling brand message that connects with customers.

Build A Strong Framework

We’ll create a professional brand style guide and a beautiful, mobile-friendly website that converts visitors into customers.

Automate Your Marketing & Sales

We’ll set up your website, automate your marketing, and streamline your sales processes in HubSpot so you can save time and stay organized.

Grow Your Business

You’ll have everything you need to nurture leads and drive sales, and become empowered to grow your business better.

Giving your potential customer a simple plan of action and what their process with your company will look like puts their fears at rest and helps them see what working with you will feel like.

Without a plan in place, the guests visiting your CMS will wonder if you can execute on your promises. But clear messaging using the StoryBrand framework puts them at ease.

Are You at the Right Place at the Right Time?

You don’t care about logic and facts as much as you think you do. First and foremost, we need clarity and safety. That’s the best way to get past the old part of your brain. That’s why creating a clear message with StoryBrand and HubSpot’s automation tools go so well together:

You communicate to your customers that they’re in the right place at the right time, and that their lives will be easier if they let you guide them through the process.

If you’re interested in learning more about StoryBrand or HubSpot, ROI Online is a platinum-level HubSpot agency and the original StoryBrand Certified Agency. Our team can help you clarify your message, automate your marketing and sales, and convert more leads into customers. Schedule a strategy session today to talk to one of our experts.

Schedule a Strategy Session with ROI Online