Storybrand Agreement Plan: Setting Your Hero’s Path

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Building a Storybrand" by Donald Miller. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What’s a storybrand agreement plan? Why is this an important part of writing your brandscript?

A storybrand agreement plan is the step in your storybrand where your hero finds out how to get the thing they want. This is an important part of your storybrand because it transitions to selling the product.

Read more about a storybrand agreement plan and how to write one.

Storybrand Agreement Plan

The fourth of the seven story elements is the storybrand agreement plan. In a narrative, the plan is a method the guide gives the hero to alleviate her fears, help her get what she wants, and solve her problems. For example, in Moneyball, guide Peter Brand tells hero Billy Beane (general manager of a baseball team) to use algorithms instead of anecdotes to choose his players.

(Shortform note: To see the seven story elements of Moneyball in action, read our summary of the book.) 

In branding, the plan is step-by-step instructions that the brand gives the customer. The instructions explain how to buy or use the product or service, or alleviate fears about spending money on the product or service. (Shortform example: If you sell hand soap, you might assure customers that your salespeople don’t work on commission—no one will pressure them to buy a scent they’re not sure about.)

The first three steps of the SB7 Framework were primarily about establishing characters and setting the scene. Step four is the first in which the customer has to start doing something. She’s unlikely to do so unless you tell her exactly what to do next and how it’s going to play out. 

First, we’ll look at two different types of storybrand agreement plans. Then, we’ll discuss how to write and title them, and how to add them to your brandscript.

Two Types of Plans

There are two types of plans you can share with a customer: process plans and agreement plans.

Process Plans

Process plans clarify how a customer can do business with you and/or how they’re supposed to use your product. StoryBrand recommends everyone create a process plan, clearly articulate it to the customer, and display it on their website.

There are three types of process plans:

  • Pre-purchase plan. Pre-purchase plans tell a customer how to buy the product. (Shortform example: If you’re selling hiking boots online, the plan could be:
    • Find your size using the online size guide
    • Add the appropriate size to your online cart.
    • Click checkout.)
  • Post-purchase plan. Post-purchase plans tell a customer how to use the product after they’ve bought it. They’re especially useful for products that people might have trouble imagining how they’d use. (Shortform example: If you’re selling hiking boots online, the plan could be:
    • Try on the boots. They shouldn’t pinch your toes or rub anywhere.
    • Walk around your house to test the fit.
    • Climb a set of stairs to simulate a trail.
    • If they still feel good, go adventuring.)
  • Combination plan. Combination plans tell a customer both how to buy and how to use a product. (Shortform example: If you’re selling hiking boots online, the plan could be:
    • Find your size using the online size guide
    • Add the appropriate size to your online cart and checkout.
    • Try on the boots when they arrive.
    • Walk around your house and climb the stairs to check the fit.
    • If all’s well, go adventuring.)

The goal of a process plan is to clear up customer confusion, so plans should have between 3-6 steps. If you need more than six steps, combine steps into phases—a long list can create confusion.

Agreement Plans

Storybrand agreement plans alleviate customer fears with the goal of making customers confident enough to buy from you. Agreement plans are optional and don’t have to be posted publicly the same way process plans do. (But you can put them on your website if you like.)

There are two types of agreement plans:

  • Risk reduction. These plans reduce the chance of a customer buying an unsatisfactory product.
    • (Shortform example: Many electronics companies certify that their refurbished products have been tested and passed a quality control standard.)
  • Shared values. These plans can demonstrate to customers that a brand has something in common with them, which creates trust.
    • For example, Whole Foods’s agreement plan is its list of values that includes its commitment to sourcing their products in a responsible way.

To create an agreement plan, make a list of all the potential worries customers might have and then make a new list that addresses everything on the first list.

Titling Your Storybrand Agreement Plan

Giving your plan a title has two advantages:

  • It will make the plan look more official and established.
    • For example, a process plan titled “Quick Installation Plan” is more memorable than an untitled plan—from reading the title, you know exactly what the plan is about.
  • It will increase the apparent value of your brand. 
    • For example, you might title an agreement plan “Our Customer Guarantee,” which suggests that in addition to the product, the customer is also getting a service—guaranteed help with a product if they experience difficulties using it. 
Storybrand Agreement Plan: Setting Your Hero’s Path

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Donald Miller's "Building a Storybrand" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Building a Storybrand summary:

  • How storytelling enhances brand marketing
  • Why you should make the consumer the hero of your brand's story
  • The 7 elements that make marketing work

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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