StoryBrand Guide Alex Schauer On Applying Good Marketing Principles to Family Business

welcome back everybody to the roi online podcast and today i’m proud to introduce you to alex shower as in taking a shower that’s right alex is a story brand guide and her company is shower branding co and i’ve seen i’ve seen alex contribute to the story brand guide community on slack and i watch her stuff and so this is someone i think that everyone that’s listening should get to meet alex welcome to the roi online podcast well thank you so much for inviting me steve i’m happy to be here yeah you know one of the things that i was attracted to about what you’re doing i think that you have experienced or recognize that there’s there’s a big segment of the folks that we serve who are family based businesses that’s right and and so i was reading some of your messaging kind of give us the back story and walk us into how you got to where you are sure but let’s let’s talk about that family business flavor there absolutely yeah absolutely so my background is in manufacturing family business manufacturing i’m married into a family business um nine years ago and uh so right out of the gate i learned that when you’re a family member you have a job to do at the family business so which was a really great thing for me so they um allowed me to come in and um be a part of the family business and so there was a gap um that at that time in the marketing department and so alex was there to fill that role although my education was in business management so i had never taken a marketing class before but here i am in the marketing department for the business right right and so people get pushed into the marketing role a because they’re just going to do whatever they need to do to bring it but it’s so typical to hear that they’re not prepared but yet someone’s gotta run with the ball there yeah oh absolutely so it became you know i just kind of come out of college where i was in learning mode but then i went right back into learning mode again and started reading and doing everything that i could to figure out uh what we needed to do what i needed to do to contribute to the family business and um so um you know as a i kind of joke sometimes that we my husband and i that first year we were learning how to be business partners and uh married at the same time so that was a little bit unique for sure um but everything about family business i’ve loved it from day one um and we kind of relish it and so um but about let’s see it’s been five years ago now that i came across story brand um as what in my research as i was trying to figure out what i was supposed to do and there was something about it that clicked on all cylinders for me um i loved being able to change our narrative to be more about the customer and less about who we were and so we began that process of um of implementing the framework into our business and upon launching a new website we grew 417 in online revenue wow using the story brand framework so it was a massive win across the board for the business but i don’t think i realized at the time how much it was going to help us in other ways as well it didn’t just change our communication as it pertained to our business to our customers but it changed our community communication internally and united us as a family so um it’s been a huge part of our our journey and you know it took us four months steve you know how long it takes to write a brand script uh it took us four months to write a brand script for uh the business and so um it was a struggle every day to write it because we were so close to our message but in the end it all paid off but i saw other businesses struggle in the same area as we did and i thought i would love to be able to help them through this process as well and that’s when i became a storybrand guide well so let’s talk about first of all you’re the new kid on the block yes you’re the daughter-in-law coming into the family business yeah here’s this responsibility you go and and do this assignment but you come back with this initiative that’s going to

inject some change in the family business let’s talk about how that was received what challenges you you had there that are normal take the names off of it right but let’s talk about how you implemented that and how you worked around that yeah well um my husband was on board from day one with the story brand framework he was actually the one that sent it over to me and said i think this is the direction we should go and um and honestly i come from a very gracious family of that sounds like a great idea i probably i think the biggest challenge for us was um you know we used to tell this story and if you would have asked me you know if you came up to me at a party or something if you would have asked me what we did i would have told you well my father-in-law and then i would walk through his story of inventing a safety product for schools and i got a lot of really that’s really cool but i never made any connection as to those people need our product in their schools those kinds of conversations so the biggest change is that we stopped telling that story we stopped telling a story about my father-in-law and it’s actually really interesting how we started our company and so i always thought well if it’s interesting people want to hear it but the truth of the matter is they really wanted a safety product for their schools that made it safer for kids where they you know play and so um that’s the story that we started to tell instead um the other biggest challenge that we faced implementing sort with story brand framework is that we really pared down what we were talking about so we had several products and we decided let’s focus our home page and um really some of the in premier internal pages that we used and only talk about our one big product and everything else will just go to the footer of the page and that was a little bit scary because you don’t want to lose any revenue you know um but it didn’t it did the very opposite when we focused on the one product that we um really was proprietary to us and that people were really choosing then sales began to increase so it was pretty amazing you know marketing directors are relating with you right now and then maybe they don’t work for family business but they get handed an assignment they they maybe learn about story brand or someone was delegated story brand but then they want to implement it and change how the organization talks about what they do so what stuff just for their edification how do you talk about the business now how do i talk about the business yeah how do you talk about your business now let’s let’s hear what the new message sounds like yes so the new message is do you know those protruding coat hooks that stick out at eye level whenever you go through schools yeah those are really dangerous for kids when you when they’re hung at eye level so we have a flat profile coat hook that makes schools safer that’s our one liner that’s what we say that’s our messaging now and it resonates within everything that we do so we went to a trade show and the sign behind us said our hooks won’t hurt you and you’d be amazed how many people were coming up to us and they would say do co-hooks hurt you and i was like yes they do and so it opened a huge story loop in people’s minds and we had you know really great uh conversations because we used we went toward their problem the problem the customers are facing instead of saying my father-in-law started this company it’s really cool you know that doesn’t solve the problem for our customers that drew a picture in my mind of a a coat hook that retracts yeah and so i can see where that would be safe you you pull it out and hang your your coat but when you pull it off it disappears yeah and ours is actually a flat profile and so it’s it kind of sticks up and down and you know they’re virtually unbreakable so um what when a district orders from us then they’re able to have um a co-hook that’s going to last forever so the life of their students and beyond so um it’s a pretty neat product for sure it’s really cool how sentence can convey a whole whole bunch of things and just quickly connect the dots so let’s talk some more about family business so they family businesses i didn’t realize you and i were talking before

yeah i didn’t realize how many small businesses are actually family-owned businesses yeah ninety percent ninety percent of businesses are family-owned that’s crazy and you think you think about just the challenges of running a business and then you add on that layer of family dynamics exactly exactly and you know what my i had a great education um and all business related and not one of my books spoke to what happens when the management is your family member um they just talked about really great uh philosophies and principles that you could implement um some of my favorite books are still books that i refer back to but they’re missing that element of well what happens when that person is your father-in-law or your mother-in-law or your brother-in-law which is our our story there are six of us all together uh working in the family business and so um so i don’t always felt like there was this missing factor um yes i can run an effective meeting but how do i make sure that that meeting doesn’t happen over easter you know you know when i’m sitting at the table with my family over easter and those type of ideas how do i approach something in a way that’s really clear and kind at the same time um and you know i’ve heard you probably heard the thing to be clear is to be kind and i completely agree with that especially in family business um you know there’s a different level of communication that you have to have when you’re working with family totally so one of my clients he specializes in family business coaching in particular the time when the leadership of that family business is beginning to transition where the parents or the elder elder folks are wanting to retire right but you now have the kids or the siblings that are going to take over and so there’s a big a big challenge of transition of management of leadership i can’t imagine how difficult that can be what’s in place and how can your messaging how can your the way that you approach and that’s a marketing challenge as well how do you approach that with your messaging that’s a really good question um and for us the decision that we’ve made is that we’re here to serve our customers and that is multi-generational you know that’ll happen this generation so we’re second generation my kids will our third um and my nieces and nephews will be third generation and you know what i found is as we’ve stopped talking about who’s in charge and we’ve focused on who our customers are and how we’re best going to serve them a lot of those questions start slipping to the background you know who’s going to be in charge what is the percentage you know all those conversations happen with lawyers and it’s an important conversation to have absolutely but the day-to-day um when we’re serving our customers well together the questions of percentages kind of fade to the background we’re all going to serve them really well that’s a powerful statement that you just said that so much aligning so many um agendas on the right point on the horizon on the horizon yeah yes yeah absolutely yeah even in you probably know this quote from donald miller and it was the one that really kind of spoke to me the first time i ever read building a story brand um was the minute that you stopped losing sleep over your success and you start losing sleep over your customer success is the day you start to grow again and that’s really it’s that’s the epitome of everything that we’re doing wow so you have success there you started you’re in your chops you you’re in the respect of your new family yes right yeah show success and then you decide hey i think i want to do this for some other folks yes originally it was going to be kind of something fun that i did on the side because i enjoyed that process so much and i became a guide in september 2017 so um it was about that

time that you know i thought this will be something that i can do like i said on the side and um it didn’t take long before i realized that it was something i loved um so much and in about two two months i think it was november of that year that same year that i went full time and so the family business is now a client of mine but i do take on other clients now so um so far the last two and a half years i’ve worked with over 100 companies to help them with this process and it’s been phenomenal and i love being able to come alongside them and to make sure that their messaging is really clear because i i know i mean you know once you’ve been through this process and steve you know exactly what it’s like once you’ve been through the process of getting clear on the message and making sure that um you know it’s through all of your marketing efforts it does something for the momentum of the business and for the people that are involved in it so it’s just it’s a fun thing to do every day i think the momentum comes from when you align all the energies in people’s brains yes on that team to start communicating the same message and that bleeds into how they treat customers that leads into the decisions they make about everything have you found so what i learned about storybrand obviously the first default way of applying it is on your marketing message but quickly it became obvious to me that this was applicable in communicating with your team and communicating with yeah as in all these other scenarios what have you experienced i completely agree um like i said originally the idea of implementing story brand was just going to be on our website um but after the seeing success from that we started implementing it in every other area of the business and even at times in my brother-in-law and i were just talking the other day you know there was a um a guy on the team who was kind of struggling with some things and so i said well does he you know have you reiterated to him the purpose of being here you know and i think that that’s kind of our default you know we’re here to serve our customers so that they have safer schools has that been reiterated to him and he said you know what that’s the missing link and so he was able to go back to that team member and say hey let’s just let’s focus in you know the reason that we’re here every day um is to be able to serve our customers so they have safer schools and what you’re doing is important and i think that being able to offer that to people is just a great way to serve your team members to say there’s so much clarity about what we do why we’re here then some of those big questions start fading into the background like i said just the same way with a succession plan everything fades away when you start focusing on your customers you know i’ve led many uh change initiatives with my company and naturally change is intimidating and you you and encounter resistance because the team’s just wanting to understand why why do i need to do this extra hurdle but when when i introduced storybrand the adoption rate on this was yeah impressive way better than all the other initiatives i’d done and it it started us down a path of of alignment i believe was the big takeaway on that but what other so story brand is like the entry entry into another expectation or realization of how to communicate what are some other frameworks that you found what are some other books what are yeah i’m curious of what other things that you’ve um applied that becomes a force multiplier on top of that framework uh one of the things that we did and we implemented was um testing for the enneagram so we do know what enneagram numbers our team members are which is incredibly helpful um it really defined a lot for us even within our family members my brother-in-law and i are both ones on the enneagram so i think that explained a lot to our family if you know and one is a perfectionist so um we like to say we’re reformers so yeah let’s talk let’s stop in and for the audience that may not be familiar with sure that would you kind of give us a back back story there right so the enneagram and

um you know i am not a professional of the enneagram but um ian kron is the one that we’ve you know adopted what he has to say about the enneagram and done his testing and those kinds of things um but it basically is a nine personality types that um that are um that you fit into so you have one specific personality type that is you and then you have moments of stress and moments of growth and where you go in those areas as well so it’s very interesting i think one of the you know i’ve taken different personality tests throughout the years um and they’ve all been very good but the thing about the enneagram that i like the most is that i feel like it um it gave us a path of communication to those different um personality types within our company and so if we start seeing something that we’re like oh that seems a little off then we know maybe we haven’t given them enough work at this point because they’re an achiever and they don’t have enough right now or uh whatever it may be so does that explain the instagram so it’s basically a framework to to our we tend to think everybody should approach everything like we do yes exactly and when we’re not thinking about it we’re going what’s wrong with that person can’t they can’t they see what i see but the problem is they’re different right and so that’s an acknowledgement of all the differences in us and how how we can at least create a standard to communicate and and know that oh they’re not crazy and they’re not weird they’re just like they’re supposed to be exactly and how do we use that as a strength you know how do we help them use that as a strength and not um kind of get in their head kyle and i my brother-in-law and i as both num as no because both ones on the enneagram um we have an inner critic well i thought everyone had an inner critic so i was very confused by anyone could make massive mistakes that would send them to jail um but it figured out really quickly that not everyone has that so if anything kyle and i are not never going to jail so um but yeah no you’re absolutely right so it does change the way that we communicate and even kyle and i coach each other sometimes and we’ll say um i think that’s your inner critic i don’t think that that’s actually what’s happening here so it’s been helpful to have kind of an ally in that in that way but also understand how the rest of our family members work as well so tell us about some of the clients that you work with do you specialize in a certain industry or enneagram type or tell us about that or any agreement type i haven’t started testing for any agreements first but that’s actually pretty and it’s an interesting concept um i work with a wide range of clients so um really my sweet spot i would say are service-based businesses or businesses so ones that are like ours that have manufacturing as part of it i know that world so it seems to come pretty easy for me um but i love it whenever i get to work with a family business that is um because i i understand the weight whenever they say i have to run this by my cousin it’s not an odd thing for me to hear and i can completely understand that and i know how many family members do we need to have in this discussion to really move it forward in those kinds of questions so um i i love working with family businesses i found that when they have to go run it by their cousin or someone else yes what that means is i have a communication challenge i need to go i need to go do a presentation a sales presentation basically so that’s a great time to help them get their messaging correct before they go into that and set them up for success exactly you’re you’re right on that’s right that’s right i found that also you know it’s our natural thinking that everyone has a marketing challenge and they do but we we default thinking it’s an outside i need new customers yes they do but there’s other marketing challenges such as maybe they need to recruit employees good employees yes have you talked about a project maybe or you’re shaking your head so i’m assuming you have done something like this tell us about how you approach that project and what the outcome looks like yeah well you know i think anytime you add a new team member to the i mean it it just it’s kind of especially in family business i would say it’s a very personal thing when you’re adding someone to essentially the family

and they have to be the right person so um one of the ways that we as we you know and this really goes back to and i know i probably sound like a broken record but as we continue to focus on our customer it became even clearer who we needed to have that could focus on our customers with us so we tend to go you know for our business we like to go for people who are growth might have a growth mindset who are really detail-oriented because we’re in manufacturing so there’s a lot of details that happen and um and so but we write a brand script for the person that we’re wanting to hire so the problem they want to solve is they want to be a part of a great uh company where they can continue to grow you know without having to to leave kind of idea and so um it’s been helpful for us as we’re having those conversations to think you know we want to build people into our business for the long term we find it incredibly important to serve them and so it just as well as our customers and when you know when you serve your team members well you automatic they turn around and serve your customers well so that’s our first brand script is for our team members but it all goes back to are they going to serve our customers well yeah that process of bringing someone into the organization imagine if you put yourself in their issues like okay i need to learn the lingo i need to learn the culture i need to learn what you know who’s who’s safe and who do i steer away from right that’s going through their head absolutely but if you if you have a process that you’re working on a brand script with them you’re actually giving them tools to be successful to go through that that hazing process yeah we call i’m being facetious but it feels like hazing right right it does it can feel that way um and i think that that’s why it’s so important to give everyone the same language because it becomes something that you say every day you know i find that you know i’ve been in organizations before where you walk in they hand you an employee handbook and you’re just gonna figure it out and i don’t think that that works long term i think that you have to continually have that conversation of what does it look like to serve our customers extremely well and you know what do we need to do to make sure that you’re um equipped for the the job that you have to do to make sure that we’re getting all the details taken care of those kinds of things so i don’t think that it’s although we we can brand script the employee onboarding process the internal conversation has to be consistent and fluid and it’s not just a one-time conversation of let’s onboard them well it’s let’s onboard them well and let’s keep them going for a year two three four until they’ve been with us forever have you experienced with the customer that maybe read story brand and okay this is something we need to do is what they’re thinking but they talk to you and they think that here i’m going to pay a little bit of money hurry get my brand script done and then then check i got that off the list and let’s get on to something else i find that it’s not that easy number one but there’s a lot more work you have to do but that person that’s not a perfect client that you you want to bring on board unless you can get them to recognize oh this is way deeper than what i originally thought it is it is and i think a lot of that is um is guiding them through the process because i mean even i when i first went through the story brand framework you know i thought this will be great for our website and then as i started the process it began to be very clear that it was way beyond what the homepage of our website could do uh it was internal communication it was um every piece of every email every piece of mail that went out to our customers that was everything um it was the way that we talked just as a family but also with our team unity across the board and so um i think that that was the biggest um and that’s what i try to help my clients do is work through the process so that they understand that yes it’s going to be the website but then we’re going to move it into the other areas of our business to be successful so what are some of the things you know we’re in this shelter and place time and i think people are really reevaluating what they’re doing they

they are doing a going through a reset conversation in their mind about personal stuff about their business etc what are some ideas that you have that they might consider yeah i’m so sorry i don’t know if you can edit this part or not but i had a glitch happen with my sound so i just missed your question okay your sound greatly improved right i mean right in the in that last part there i don’t know what happened but all the things aligned i don’t know what that was all right well let’s let’s if you don’t mind editing this part out every question then i will continue from here okay so my my question is now we’re so now we’re in in this time where we’re sheltering in place and a lot of people are doing a personal inventory first of all on a reset businesses are thinking that as well what are some of your suggestions or ideas to resetting your business during yeah or what things you know what inventory items should we be working on right now yeah that’s a really great question you know and i think it’s it’s obviously different for every business um and you know i think it was maybe john maxwell i don’t want to quote him incorrectly but he said cloaked in every opportunity is a great challenge you know so you know you have this great challenge ahead of us and i’m not going to pretend like it’s super easy for everyone at all but i think that some businesses their call to arms during this time is going to be stay the course it’s not going to be let’s innovate let’s create something new for a lot of people it’s going to be stay the course and i think that that’s okay and i mean that’s what we’ve we decided from the very beginning we thought do we need to um iterate our business do we need to um to to make any changes or innovate and really the thing that we all can came back to is we’re going to stay the course and we’re going to get through this time and it’s paid off for us really well um so i do think that that is going to be um the narrative of many businesses as we stayed the course and doing that paid off in great dividends um however i also know that for many businesses what at this time allows them to do is to give greater focus to the things that they’ve been that they’ve had on the back burner um things that they had in their mind is we could do this in the future or something along those lines um and this is really the time to to focus on those items and so they know what it is that burning problem in the back of their mind that they’ve been thinking this whole time you know as soon as we get a break that’s what i’m going to focus on well this is your break this is your chance and lean into it and allow this challenge to bring out the best opportunities and the innovation but like i said i think that there are two different and i don’t know if that’s a narrative that we’re hearing a lot that for some businesses the um uh decision is to stay the course but that’s okay too it’s okay to stay the course if if it’s not you know you don’t have burning things in the back of your mind that you’re like oh i should create this then this is your time to just stay the course agrees just because other people are having a change doesn’t mean you have to yeah yeah exactly we started uh you know i was thinking about what what we should do or pivot or whatever and so i think what we’re going to do is we’ll start producing digital face masks for websites with bad breath nice i like it i did have a zoom call last week where someone wore a face mask i’m pretty sure it was a joke or the coronavirus can now go through computer screens i’m not sure but it’s pretty funny that’s good steve so how do you use so what are some other books that you you have got a lot of i don’t know epiphanies or what some other books that you’ve read that’s really helped you then some marketing directors or folks that are relating with you are in a similar position what’s some books that they should consider um the first book that i want them to pick up is never split the difference chris chris boss oh i’ve read that one twice um i’m about to pick it up again for the third time yeah me too such a good book right yes i have it on audible and i listen to it all the time yes right no good yeah no i think that that’s the first one i would say to pick up

and read it and understand it um the best you can and you i use it almost as a um just a resource to to go back to time and time again whenever i’m coming up against a negotiation by nature that’s not my um my bent you know i’m not a negotiator so uh he’s helped me tremendously so i’m trying to think what other i have a stack of books on my desk right now um he’s helped you tremendously he’s a he’s a great um writer and it’s just helped me yeah it’s helped tremendously the other books that i recommend are mike michalowicz um he his book clockwork is excellent i love that book um i started using he has a 4d mix for his business and um it’s doing designing delegating um and deciding so deciding designing there are four and um what i’ve taken from his book is i actually take my time and i divide it up into those four different categories to make sure that i have the right mix going on at all times and it’s been really instrumental for me so i highly recommend that book as well and um you know my kind of one that i have gone back to every year is good to great i just love that book it may be my enneagram one that loves that first line of the book good as the enemy of great but um but it’s a fantastic book i love to go back to that one year after year and especially the part and i actually went back to at the beginning of quarantine where he talks about facing the brutal facts and i reread that section just to prepare my mind for whatever we might be facing um because it was so it is so unknown still but it was very unknown in the beginning but i wanted to be prepared to face whatever we were tackling so jim collins good to great facing the brutal facts that’s my favorite chapter right now um ask me next week and it’ll be a different one but yeah those are probably the ones other than obviously the storybrand books that i’m always referring back to but that are helpful so so what are some conferences that you’ve attended that you really enjoyed or really like um that’s a really good question i have attended dave ramsey events onto leadership um events and they’ve been really helpful and actually many women that are maybe listening attended christy wright’s business boutique and it was pretty instrumental in my business early on and i really appreciated all of her information as well um and then you know everyone should obviously go to the live story brand workshop exactly every time they have it and be perfectly happy so so much to learn always so when someone you take on a new client yes what are the first 30 days look like with you the first 30 days are really focused on messaging um and making sure that we have that really clear and so you know it typically starts out with an initial conversation where we’re walking through um what the messaging should be and um really what their business is all about those kinds of things sometimes that includes conversations with past clients um sometimes it includes conversations with with other team team members but we just want to be sure that we’re covering all the bases so the first 30 days is really focused on making sure the messaging is right and we have a strategy moving forward um you know we have great words but we’ve got to put them in place somewhere and that’s going to happen on the you know through the strategy so what are the next steps what’s the most important thing where are people finding you the most and i found that that’s different across the board i have some clients they’ll come to me and say i have a trade show next month and so instead of trying to fix everything at one time let’s just make sure that you knock it out of the park at this trade show so that’s our focus first so um initially it’s the messaging and then from there we’re talking strategy on where we’re going to use those words the most effectively i find that when you tell them it’s going we’re going to take some time to to really nail this messaging they’re like what we can’t do this in just an hour a couple of hours what do you say to that it took me four months to write my first brand script four and i’m not saying like i i was doing it on the side of my regular work i was

focused on it and i was reiterating it over and over and i was starting from scratch and trying again and there was just a lot of trial and error in the process a lot of that had to do with the fact that i was so close to the content you know the business itself that um that i just couldn’t see the label on the outside of the bottle and so um it just took that long to get that clear so we’re really saving them about three months of agony if you work with a guide i will save you time i promise but it still will take time to get it right you’re illustrating awesome the reason why hiring a guide is so valuable because you don’t realize how close you are to your content and how even for us it took a long time to really get it and and one day that just hit me but it was like i had been walking around this obstacle in my way all this time and then one day i’m going i can’t believe i didn’t see that but we are too close to our stuff exactly that outside perspective is huge and just to be able to have someone else and you know i have clients tell me all the time i can’t believe you just said what we’ve been trying to say for 10 years and it’s it’s just an outside perspective with a with the framework that’s really what it is um and so hiring a guide is i think one of the best money that you can spend on your marketing um and just honestly point it blank and that’s not just me there are plenty of guides to choose from i just mean it’s going to save you a ton of time and heartache in the process you need to get to a result much faster totally and it’s an asset not just some words it’s an asset that’s going to impact your organization for years to come absolutely you know the website that we launched five years ago it still increases dollars every day and i have a new iteration of the website but then i’m like it’s working so should we watch the update or should we just keep it and let it just let it keep working so well your customers change your your services change sometimes your things change yeah yeah so i totally get it so alex um folks have been listening maybe they want to reach out to you um talk to you a little bit sure how do they get ahold of you well there’s a couple ways the best way is through my website which is showerco.com and shower is a little bit different spelling it’s s-c-h-a-u-e-r uh co.com it’s a german name and um and then but specifically if they are a family business and you’re listening the best way is to go to showercode.com backslash family and actually have a download there that they can um download um i actually entitled it how to work together and still love each other so um it’s all about how to um to really make your experience in a family business incredibly successful so it’s the things that we found that have worked for us and i hope that they work for you too that’s excellent alex this has been a great conversation i really enjoyed it and i appreciate you and i value you thank you for inviting me steve i really appreciate it all right well that’s a wrap