How Puppies Help Us Communicate

How Puppies Help Us Communicate

My wife and I just got a puppy.

He’s cute and floppy and wants to play and have fun all the time.

And he has no idea what we’re saying.

Katie and I have had dogs our entire lives. After you’ve had a dog for awhile, you kind of figure each other out. One of our dogs, Sami, is 13 years old and I’m convinced she knows English. We’ll ask her to do something we never taught her and she’ll get right to it. Or she’ll come in and give Katie a look (she’s had her since she was eight weeks old) and they’ll have an entire conversation through their eye contact. I’ll watch and try to guess, but have no clue what was just said.

“She needs to use the bathroom,” Katie will translate.

“I just let her out,” I respond.

“She didn’t go. She just sat by the door and waited for you to let her back in.”

“Oh. Sneaky bugger.”

Getting this puppy reminded us that it hasn’t always been this way. Even simple commands like, “Come here” don’t work. We keep running off without him, expecting him to follow like our other dogs. 

It reminds me of what so many of us do to our customers.

We talk to people in our circles so much we begin to understand each other well. We come up with words or phrases that make sense to us, even more sense than what those “other guys” are saying. It’s not a code or a secret handshake. To us, it simply feels more clear.

It’s like that look Sami gives my wife. It makes sense to them, but the outside world doesn’t get it.

And then we try to market our products or services using that language that only makes sense to us. No wonder people don’t buy your products!

In some ways, it’s the same as Katie taking a picture of Sami’s face and saying, “Can you pick this up from the store?” Uh, no. I don’t know what that means.

So what are you supposed to do?

First, go get a puppy. Everyone needs a puppy.

Then, communicate with your customers the same way you communicate with that puppy: get on their level.

You can’t expect your puppy to learn commands overnight and you can’t expect your customers to figure out what you’re trying to say to them.

Instead, put yourself in their shoes. How do they communicate with each other? What are they feeling? What is it like to be them?

Our puppy keeps chewing on our hands. At first, we tried saying, “No,” but he kept chewing. Apparently, he wasn’t born speaking English. How inconvenient.

So we watched what happens when one dog hurts another. They yelp. Immediately, the other dog backs off.

Next time Puppy came over to chew my hand I gave a quick yelp. I tried to make it sound as much like his yelp as I could.

He let go. It worked!

I didn’t ask him to learn English; I spoke his language. And we have to do the same thing with our customers.

If you’ve been in your industry for a long time, this can be especially hard. You’ve spoken insider-speak for so long it’s difficult to remember what you were thinking and feeling before you were an insider.

But it’s worth it.

One great way to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, is to go through the StoryBrand Framework. Donald Miller asks brilliant questions to find out how they see the world so you can learn to connect with them better.

You can also do something revolutionary: talk to your customers. Ask them why they’re in your store. What problem are they experiencing? What did a friend tell them? Or, if it’s a repeat customer, what would they tell a friend about your products or services? 

However you do it, get in their heads. Figure out how they think, why they do what they do. Even if you disagree, even if it’s not why you would buy your product. There is no judgment here, only understanding.

When you spend the time to get in your customers’ heads, it will change the way you communicate with them. And when you speak your customers’ language, more people will understand you and buy your products.

Imagine what you could do with that extra revenue. 

Go get ‘em, Tiger.

Many business leaders find it difficult to put themselves in their customers’ shoes. I use the StoryBrand Marketing Framework to help you recognize what story your customers are living and communicate in a way they understand. I’d love to jump on a call with you and see how I can help. Click here to schedule a call.

People Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Emotions

People Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Emotions

Many people aren’t sure why people buy their product.

They know it’s good, it’s worth buying, but talking about it in a way people understand is difficult.People often figure out what they’re selling and stop there. Socks, laptops, tea, you name it. Common sense dictates that if we list off all the features of our products, then slap the word “best” in front of them people will buy them. But that’s not what happens.As a business owner, you’ve probably experienced this.It reminds me of those lemonade stands kids set up on hot days in the middle of summer. I’ll be honest, there’s almost nothing that would compel me to pull over on a hot day and dig through my pockets for two quarters.Except for a lemonade stand.One hot day, pulled over and ordering my lemonade, I asked the group of kids who they made the lemonade for. “Everyone!” was their excited reply, “Everyone loves lemonade!” Of course it was for everyone. Everyone needs lemonade on a hot day, right?But they were wrong.

I’ve never stopped at a lemonade stand for the lemonade. And I don’t think anyone else has either.

That’s why you never see lemonade stands run by a bunch of college kids or 40-year-old men. Imagine that: driving down the road, thinking about how badly you’d like a nice glass of lemonade. Then, as if in answer to your prayers, you see a group of balding men crowded behind a foldable table with a handmade sign that says, “Nice, cold lemonade! It’s the BEST lemonade you’ll ever have!”Good thing it’s not about the lemonade.So why pull over and spend valuable time and money?It’s for the kids.You see, I believe in empowering the next generation—teaching them to stick their necks out and try something hard, something that might get ignored. I stopped and gave them money to encourage them to keep it up. I imagined them becoming entrepreneurs or bold risk-takers. Maybe they’d just learn how to work hard.

Unknowingly, what the kids at the lemonade stand were selling me was a feeling.

In this case, one of altruism. And selling feelings is much more effective than selling products. Look at Patagonia. Or Pact. Or Starbucks.There are other companies that provide gear, clothing, and coffee. But Patagonia makes me feel like I’m caring for the earth, Pact makes me feel like I’m taking care of the factory workers who stitched my clothes together, and Starbucks makes me feel proud as I walk into work with their Venti fashion statement.StoryBrand calls this the Internal Problem. It’s not about the features or details of your product; it’s about the feelings and emotions your product gives people, and the way they feel when they don’t have it.I’ll let you in on a secret: People don’t make decisions with their brains. They make most decisions with their emotions, then justify those decisions with their brains.So, when you tell a potential customer all the features of your product, you’re not communicating with the decision-making center of their brain. To reach the part of their brain that makes decisions, you have to tell them how your product will make them feel. It is only after that that telling them about features is valuable because it is then that their rational brain jumps in and tries to make sense of the decision their emotions just made.Most people want to feel rational, so they believe the story their rational brain tells them about the features of your product and ignore the emotions that drove the decision.But you can’t believe that rational-brain-story. Not if you want to grow your business.

So here’s what you need to do:

1. Think through the emotions people experience before and after they buy your product or service. What emotional problem does your product solve? (A couple of examples: If your product simplifies a process, people might feel frustrated beforehand and relieved afterward. Or, if your product helps them reach a new level of performance, people might feel inferior beforehand and confident afterward.)2. Integrate those emotions into your marketing. For example, tell people you know what it’s like to feel inferior and you want to help them feel confident.But only tell them something that’s true. If you make up stories or emotions to try to manipulate people into buying your product or service you’ll degrade your humanity for the sake of marketing. Plus, they’ll eventually figure it out, and you’ll lose business.Let’s look at Patagonia again. If you’re Patagonia, your customers might not have outdoor gear, or they need new outdoor gear.Now, press into that a little more. How do they feel when they don’t have outdoor gear? What is it causing them to miss out on? Maybe they can’t go camping or backpacking, or it’s too cold for them to go outside. Maybe they feel constrained when they can’t do these things. What they truly want is to feel free.Suddenly, Patagonia no longer sells outdoor gear; it sells freedom. No wonder people pay so much for their products. When you communicate with your customers’ emotions and paint a picture of how your product or service will make them feel, more people will buy, and your business will grow.If you want help clarifying your Internal Problem, or working through the other two problems you help your customers solve, click here to schedule a call. I would love to help your business reach its next level.
How to Speak Your Customers’ Language

How to Speak Your Customers’ Language

A person’s decision to buy your product is not based on how well it solves their problem. 

Thousands of fantastic products that solve consumers’ problems go overlooked every day. They sit on shelves and look beautiful on websites. But people walk past and grab something else, something that doesn’t solve their problem as well that thing does.

It’s a business owner’s worst nightmare. Years spent in development, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on buying the facility and equipment, creating inventory, stocking shelves. All with the hope that people will show up and want what they’re selling.

But no one buys.

Often, it’s not a product problem. It’s a communication problem.

Most business leaders have been in the industry so long they know all the insider language. When asked what problem their product solves, they give a technical, industry-specific answer full of industry-leading jargon.

To these business leaders, it feels like they’re demonstrating how much they know. But there’s a problem: their customers haven’t been in the industry as long as them. They don’t know what all those words mean. Instead of impressing people with their wealth of knowledge and vocabulary, they’re confusing people. It feels like they’re speaking a different language.

If this sounds like you, there’s something you should know: no one understands you.

You’re asking your potential customers to work to try to figure out what you’re saying. But that’s not how people operate. They don’t want to work to understand you. They don’t want to burn any calories they don’t have to, so instead, they check out. 

People don’t buy the best products, they buy the products they can understand the fastest.

If you want people to start buying, you have to communicate in a way they understand. And it has to be easy. No one will spend 15 minutes on your website sifting through your information trying to piece things together.

In fact, they won’t even spend 10 seconds on your website if it doesn’t immediately make sense.

So what are you to do? How do you bridge this gap and connect with your customers?

Listen to them.

Ask them questions. Write down what they say and start talking about your product with their words instead of yours. Learn the language they use instead of forcing them to learn the language you use.

To get you started, here are some questions to discover how your customers talk about the problems they’re experiencing and the reason they want your product in the first place.

1. What is the biggest challenge you’re experiencing, as it relates to my product?

People are on your website because they have a problem. They’re not wandering around with wads of money looking for someone to give it to. They have a problem, and they need help solving it. If you want to connect with them in a way that makes them want to buy, you have to start with the problem your product or service solves.

This question helps you discover the way your customers talk about their problem. But if their response is vague, it’s not helpful. Imagine selling running shoes. If someone tells you her problem is that her shoes, “aren’t good enough,” how does that help you? It doesn’t. You’re not going to run an ad that says, “Buy our shoes because they’re good enough.”

No, instead, ask follow up questions. Keep asking, “Why?” or “How come?” until you understand the depth and breadth of the problem. Maybe she has a marathon coming up and wants shoes that she knows will make it through training and will still have enough cushion to be comfortable for 26.2 miles. Now you know what your customer is experiencing and can provide a specific solution to her problem.

2. How is that impacting your life?

A problem isn’t a problem unless it obstructs a basic need or want.  If you don’t talk about the way your customers’ lives are affected by the problem they’re experiencing, they won’t buy your product. There’s no reason to do business with you if you don’t help improve their lives.

Our friend looking for running shoes might own a pair that doesn’t have enough cushion, so she’s in pain whenever she runs. Wow, now you have an even better way to connect with her and offer a solution to her problem. “That sounds awful,” you might say, “No one wants to be in pain while they run.”

3. How does that make you feel?

People buy solutions to their problems, right? Wrong! This is a common myth that leads to low sales. In reality, the problem a person is experiencing makes them feel something. A marathon runner might feel afraid or anxious about running a marathon with below average shoes. She’s not only in your running store to buy shoes; she’s there to buy a way to get rid of these negative emotions.

If you don’t understand what your customers are feeling because of their problem, you’re missing out on sales.

To boost your browsers’ engagement, mention these emotions on your website. Remember, you’re not inventing this. Your customers are already experiencing these emotions. They’re looking for a way to get rid of them, and this is an opportunity for you to offer your product as the solution.


Your sales don’t have to suffer from poor communication that doesn’t connect.

Use these questions to find out how your customers talk about their problem and the way your product solves it.

When you use words your customers understand, they will listen. You’ll see engagement go up, get better responses, and increase your revenue. Yes, it’s true, communication is often the only thing standing between you and more sales.

Learn your customers’ language and start communicating in a way they understand.


P.S. I help companies learn to communicate in a way their customers understand all the time. If you have any questions, or if you want to bring me in to help you clarify your message, click here to schedule a call. I’d love to help you grow your business!

3 Ways Confusion is Killing Your Team (and how to fight it)

3 Ways Confusion is Killing Your Team (and how to fight it)

We had been working for weeks, and I kept confronting the same problem:

My team wasn’t on the same page.

At the outset of the project, I was put in charge. It was my idea, why not have me lead it? I got to pick my team, so I chose people who I knew would “get it.” At first, I didn’t spend much time telling everyone why the project was worthwhile. I assumed they would all know; it was a great idea after all.

But they didn’t get it. Each time we got together I found myself more confused at how far off track people were getting. Had they forgotten why we were here? Did they not care? Were they not invested? Confusion turned into frustration as I wrestled with these questions and repeated the same “Why We’re Here” conversations over and over.

In the midst of my frustration, I didn’t take the time to step back and evaluate the root of the problem. Looking back, I can see what I did wrong. The problem was not with the vision I had cast or the project we were working on; it was much simpler.

I was confusing my team.

I assumed my idea was so good everyone would jump on board, so I didn’t tell them why we were there or what their roles were. Even when I tried, I didn’t communicate in a way they could understand.

And while I was running around putting out fires of misalignment and confusion, I didn’t notice the full extent of the damage. Here are three ways my poorly aligned team was accidentally working against me.

1. Wasting time on unnecessary tasks

Good people work like dogs to do what they think you want. Unfortunately, when they aren’t sure what you want, they do all that work on the wrong things. That’s time and money spent on unhelpful tasks that you can’t get back.

2. Low staff morale

Nobody likes feeling confused. It’s one of those emotions that’s uncomfortable, and people quickly cover it up with another emotion, often anger or resentment. They blame you for feeling confused then let it morph into anger.

Your team goes from being motivated to frustrated before you know what’s happened. No one wants to show up for work, they don’t bring their best ideas to the table, and you are the one who has to pick up all the pieces.

3. High turnover

People want to win. I know, in this day and age, it’s not politically correct to talk about winning vs. losing. But that doesn’t make it less true. So let me repeat myself: People want to win. They want to be on winning teams.

Your staff is devoting 40+ hours every week to you and your business, and they want it to matter. When you don’t communicate well you drag your team down. They aren’t able to accomplish as much, and they know it. Your best staff members won’t put up with poor performance; they’ll leave. 

You’ll end up with a complacent team with folks who don’t care about winning and don’t want to be there.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

At this point, you know how the StoryBrand Framework can help you clarify your message and increase conversions on your website. But did you also know that it can solve your communication problems?

When you clarify your message by creating a BrandScript, you can use it for more than just your website. You can take your clear message and turn it into a one-liner that reminds your staff why they’re on your team. In fact, you can have each department and each team create a BrandScript to help clarify their mission.

Creating your BrandScript is easy.

1. Create a free account at
2. Watch the intro video and answer the questions for each section
3. Post your BrandScript where your team can see and walk them through it

Confusion eliminated!

With a clear BrandScript, your team can double-check that each task they’re working on directly contributes to your goals. You won’t deal with confusion dragging down staff morale. And with this laser-focus, you’ll get more done every day.

Imagine how different your business would be if every team in your organization were united and laser-focused.

  • Whole teams united around a common goal
  • Every hour devoted to mission-critical and business-building tasks
  • Clearly defined goals leading to better teamwork and increased morale

Unity and alignment like this are possible. Create your free account at and make it happen!

If you need help clarifying your message, call me. Having a set of expert eyes on your BrandScript can be the difference between mediocre and laser-focused.

How Apple Transforms Their Customers Into Heroes

How Apple Transforms Their Customers Into Heroes

“This is going to change the world,” I thought.

I’ll never forget unboxing my first iPhone. I was excited. I’d waited for this moment for months. I’d visualized ripping open the box and diving into the new technology headfirst, occasionally coming up to breathe or to get snacks, but only as necessary.

When I finally got my hands on the box, I paused. It was beautiful. The texture was smooth, perfect. Not like other boxes. I turned it over in my hands and pulled the top off, feeling the suction releasing, then gently set the lid on the table. My eyes landed on the phone. But I was no longer a ravenous consumer. The thoughtful, beautiful packaging transformed me into a curious explorer.

In recent years, Apple has used the word “magic” frequently. Their products do not exist to fill a technology void. Instead, they are the manifestation of their creators’ desire to bring magic to every customer’s life.

In our technology-centric, consumer-oriented society, it is easy to approach every new piece of technology like candy on Halloween. Tear off the packaging as tunnel vision sets in, and the world fades. Devour the contents then collapse into a daze of gluttonous euphoria.

But that’s no way to approach magic.

Magic should be awe-inspiring. An enhancement to the world, not an escape from it. Reverence and respect must abound–as if you are hefting Excalibur from its stone. A tool worthy of a hero.

When I unboxed my first iPhone, I became something I wasn’t before. I held an artifact in my hand that made me capable of accomplishing things I couldn’t previously.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” I heard as I weighed my new tool in my hands.

As business owners and leaders, if we want to be truly successful we must consider how each moment of our customer’s experience helps transform them into the hero they want to be. From the first encounter to the last.

Your marketing is often the first place your customer experiences your brand. Does it begin their heroic journey? Is it a step toward helping them become a better version of themselves?

What about when your customer actually interacts with your product or service? Think of Apple’s packaging. They are leaders in beautiful design and intentional packaging that makes their customer proud of their purchase, before they’ve even used it. Consider ways you can use each moment to further your customer on their journey to becoming a hero.

Our responsibility to each customer is to help them transform into the hero they dream of. When that is your focus, you will see more people respond, and your business will grow.

As a StoryBrand Certified Guide, I know how to engage in your customer’s journey and help them become the hero. If you need help, schedule a call today. I’d love to hear about your goals and discuss how to get you there.

How Distractions Are Sabotaging Your Business

How Distractions Are Sabotaging Your Business

You have the best product on the market, but your sales don’t go up as you hope. Want to know why?

You know your products or services are high quality. In fact, you’ve done the research. You’ve looked at your competition, tried out their products, and you know it’s true—you are the best at what you do (even if you don’t say it out loud).

But your sales aren’t as high as theirs.

You’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into growing your business. Spent and lost money. Risked your livelihood to get the business off the ground. People should be buying your products!

It’s frustrating to hear the “other guys” boast about hitting their goals. Or to talk to someone who just bought from them instead of from you. If your products are better then why are people buying from them?

I’ll tell you why:

People understand your competition better than you.

Your customers’ brains have so much going on. They are going a million miles an hour figuring out how they can improve their lives, get a promotion, or have more fun.

The “other guys” aren’t your only competition. Your competition also includes all the noise and distractions in your customers’ lives. In fact, when someone encounters your brand, products, or services, their brain is desperately trying to conserve energy.

There are already so many things knocking on that brain, seeking attention, it doesn’t want to think about your product. It just wants to keep that person living well.

Because of all this, people don’t buy the best products. Most of the time, they don’t even want to figure out which one is best. People buy the products they can understand the fastest.

You see, with all the distractions and thoughts buzzing around in your customers’ brains, you must communicate your product clearly and simply to get a response. If your customers’ brains can understand what you do and how it helps them live better without having to think about it, you win.

Clarity cuts through the noise and makes it easy for them to understand you.

You don’t need to make things up about your business or turn into a salesperson; you just need to be clear. 

Chances are you already solve the problem your customers are experiencing. They just don’t know you solve it because they haven’t taken the time to figure out what you do or what you’re trying to tell them.

Look at your website for three seconds. Can you answer these three questions:

1. What do you do?
2. How does it make your customers’ lives better?
3. How do they buy?

If you can’t answer those three questions when you first land on your website you have some room to increase your clarity and grow your sales.

Click here to download our free PDF: 3 Simple Steps to a Website that Sells. It will walk you through the first steps toward clarity and help you cut through the distractions in your customers’ lives so they understand what you’re saying and why they should buy.

If you are interested in clarifying your marketing material, feel free to give us a call. We would love to help you communicate clearly. Click here to schedule a call.

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