November 1, 2018 by  Ashley Guberman
This post is about StoryBrand and the StoryBrand Certified Guide program.   My goal is to help you decide if the program is right for you, or whether various alternatives would serve you better.
The first thing you need to know is that there are five six ways that you can get involved with StoryBrand for yourself, from reading the book through becoming a guide.  My affiliate links are below, and I’ll elaborate on what each of these options are and what they mean for you.
  1. Buy the book, Building a StoryBrand
  2. Take the StoryBrannd Online Course
  3. New: Business Made Simple University Review
  4. Work with a StoryBrand Certified Guide
  5. Attend a live StoryBrand Workshop
  6. Become a Certified StoryBrand Guide

1. Book: Building a StoryBrand

Building a StoryBrandThe first option is to just buy the book on Amazon.  It does a great job covering what the StoryBrand approach is all about, gives some historical grounding, and covers the importance of each step in the StoryBrand framework.

If you prefer a do-it-yourself approach, you’d probably start here.   This is a book about StoryBrand… it’s not the same as creating a StoryBrand.  It’s full of useful information and a relatively easy read, but it’s akin to a book about swimming – no amount of reading is going to keep you afloat in a pool until you get some experience with the concepts through action.

2. StoryBrand Online Course

StoryBrand Online CourseThe next level toward mastering StoryBrand – for yourself or toward becoming a guide would be the StoryBrand Online course.  As of November 2018, the course is going through a major overhaul, so this is about the prior version.

Plain and simple, the course is fantastic.  Yes, it has much of the same content as the book, but it’s broken up into a large number of bite-sized segments from 5-20 minutes in length.  If you just binge-watch them, I think you’ll miss the value.  Instead, watch one segment, then immediately start making lots of notes about how to practice or apply the concepts you just learned in your own business.

I got easily 1-2 pages of implementation notes from almost every video.  These were possible directions that I could use when I later built a BrandScript for myself.  The hard part comes later when you realize that for each and every part of the StoryBrand seven-part framework (SB7), there are multiple ways it can go.  Eventually, you’ll have to pick and choose what to say from each part of the framework.  For now, just make lots of notes and keep going.

The course comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and optional payment plans.  That’s more than enough time to go through the entire program and realize the value of the StoryBrand framework for your own business.  Best of all, the course is half the cost of the live workshop, and there are no travel or lodging expenses to deal with.   And at least when I checked last year, they would apply the cost of your online course toward the live workshop for up to a year if you later wanted to upgrade.

Back to the swimming analogy, this is like watching people swim with great expertise.  You have what you need to try to model what you see, but it’s still no substitute for getting in the pool.  However, if you have any doubts or reservations about the live course, then do start with the StoryBrand Online course.

3. Business Made Simple University Review

This post was originally written near the end of 2018.  Since then, StoryBrand released Business Made Simple University at a price that blows away most everything else on this entire blog post.  So it’s important to understand what it is, and what it’s not.
It’s a series of online courses, covering
  • Leadership
  • Marketing (funnels, process)
  • Messaging (StoryBrand Framework)
  • Emotional IQ using the Enneagram

Every single one of those courses is worth watching.  They are relevant, practical, well-produced, and really dirt-cheap for the level of high-quality information you get.

Where they fall short is that each course is just content.  It’s akin to learning about swimming by reading and watching videos.  Even if they were from Olympic medalists, you’re still going to drown if you don’t have some basic familiarity with swimming, and getting better will be very difficult without direct feedback from a coach who can look at what you’re doing right and wrong.

Despite that assessment, for many people who are just starting out, especially those for whom shelling out a few thousand dollars is prohibitive, BMSU is just right.  Furthermore, after taking any of the BMSU courses, smaller businesses or coaches will be in a better position to execute on their own, hire a guide, or continue with their learning process via one of the other options on this page.

4. Work with a  Certified StoryBrand Guide

I would be delighted to have a conversation with you about finding the right guide to work with you.  Feel free to schedule a time to chat about StoryBrand for your business here.  I work best with

  • business consultants
  • skilled service providers
  • businesses with eCommerce (or seeking to add eCommerce)

Other guides cover the full breadth of businesses.  For access to the complete network of guides, you can search the Online Directory of StoryBrand Guides.

5. StoryBrand Live Workshop

The live, 2-day workshop is about $3,000 and it includes the online course.  Plus, if you bought the online product within the year, they apply that as a credit toward the live program. (Check with StoryBrand to see if they still honor that.)  Personally, I think you’ll get much more from the live class if you already went through the online product.

This is not a case of listening live to what you just watched… the live class has work-sessions built in that add structure to actually DO THE WORK. Plus, getting feedback from somebody else on whether they think your message is clear is huge, since we all suffer from the curse of knowledge.

Repeatedly, for a text that I thought was crystal clear, my partner was confused.  I had the same experience with him, and that’s actually a massive benefit.  Together, we both helped each other get greater clarity, which is the goal of the program.  Additionally, the live program is well staffed to have professional guides answering questions, reviewing your work, giving expert feedback, and also encouragement.  It can be discouraging to be so close to your business only to realize you don’t yet know how to describe it to a stranger.  The guides help normalize your experience and move you forward to the next step in the process.  Don and his team are great presenters, and it’s really the dedicated structure and personal hand-holding through the process that makes the live program worth the extra time and expense.

Click here to see when and where the next live program is being offered.

5b. LiveStream the StoryBrand Marketing Workshop

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, many businesses had to make some fundamental changes.  StoryBrand was no exception, given that their live workshops were no longer practical or even possible.  Essentially, this is the existing workshop, done online, and at a fraction of the original cost.

It’s about 1/3 the cost at the time of this update.  Plus, you save money on airfare, hotel, and meals.  It’s really a HUGE saving, and if you were even considering the live workshop, then jump on the opportunity to participate in the LiveStream of the StoryBrand Marketing Workshop.

What you lose is some of the interpersonal minglings with other businesses who are going through the same challenges as you with their marketing.  You also lose out on the chance to shake Don’s hand and meet his incredible staff.

However, these losses are mitigated because StoryBrand brings on additional staff for the workshop, so that each time there is a break-out session for execution, there’s a certified guide in the smaller virtual room with you.  If you can manage yourself at home to keep the kids and distractions away so that you can give the online session your full attention, then you will still be able to reap the benefit of this program online.

6. StoryBrand Certified Guide Program

StoryBrand GuideGuide training is about $10K.  Typically, it’s an extra 2 days immediately following the live training workshop.  It builds on the live training in several ways.

First, it focuses on the common pitfalls people experience when building their own BrandScript, and how to spot and fix them. Second, it builds a bit of a community in the class, where people with different skills can help each other.  Third, and this is the cool part, there is practical work to perform with a fictitious company.

You are broken into a group of about 5-7, given the fact patterns for the companies, and as a group, you have to perform all the work to design a full BrandScript, create the wireframe for a website, write a sales-letter email, and write the headings for the next 5 emails in a marketing campaign.  The point is that real work is involved to use what you’ve just learned and refined over the past 4 days.

Finally, each group presents their work to the other guides-in-training, and the staff presents detailed feedback.  It’s not competitive but rather designed to showcase different approaches and foster greater learning and retention of what we’ve been working on together.  This was huge for me, and actually highly enjoyable.  Of course, typical aspects of teams come into play (norming, forming, storming, performing), as well as time-management, but in every way the exercise and experience were worth it for me.

The certified guide program is unlike many other programs where you get some content, take a test, and then you are “certified.”  There’s also a 90-day onboarding process that continues to deepen your knowledge, answer questions, provide feedback, and adds some level of group-accountability.  This onboarding group meets every 2 weeks for 60-90 minutes, focusing on guides doing the work on their own site and profile to make the program profitable.  The program’s goal (not a promise) is that all guides make back 10X their investment within the first year.   In my own case, I made back $6,500 in my first 3 months of being listed on, which is the official site for all certified guides.

From other guides, I’ve learned that the “StoryBrand” keyword has been highly effective with Google AdWords (Turn it on for a week, get booked, turn it off, repeat), though I have yet to turn that on for myself.

Personally, I am already a certified partner with both Infusionsoft and Digital Marketer.  Without question, StoryBrand’s onboarding program and support have been the most comprehensive so far.  Mind you, the first two were big from a LEARNING perspective, but the StoryBrand’s onboarding represents exceptional customer service, and that is why I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Next Steps

If you’d like to have a conversation about any aspect of StoryBrand – from creating a StoryBrand script for your own brand to joining the guide program – please feel free to contact me or schedule a time to chat.
  • I am seriously considering the StoryBrand Guides program. I am curious how successful the past 6 months have been. What else have you learned? Are there pitfalls or difficulties have doing guide work that are hard to see from the outside?

    • Pitfalls? Not really. Unless you count that if you don’t have the capacity to put time into your profile and having conversations, then you won’t profit from the work. In my own case, it MORE than paid for itself from months 2-6, and pretty much the way they said it would. I’ll also note that if you don’t to the graphic design part yourself, then it helps to partner with one who does that. Some clients want the StoryBrand approach, only to get feedback from others that they want their site the way it was, before getting time to see real metrics-driven results. These are not particular to SB, but to any new endeavor. Bottom line, I still highly recommend the program. Go here and sign up for the next course (affiliate link)

  • Hi Ashley! Thanks for sharing your experience with the guide certification. I am also strongly considering it. I’ve owned an online business for a long time in an unrelated niche and would like to transition into web design and web copy/business messaging – I already know a lot about marketing, but I loved the way Storybrand puts it together!

    Long story short, I know I could work with people on web design and marketing in a similar fashion without being Storybrand certified, but then of course I need a source of leads. Obviously the guide program is a huge investment but I’d be more than willing if I knew it was worth it in terms leads coming my way. How often do people reach out to you via the website and how often do those turn into clients? Is it your main source of leads? Could it potentially be the only source of leads that you’d need to keep your business running and make a good living?

    Thanks so much!

    • Guides get a listing on the site, which lets people contact guides directly. However, my own experience is that people may find me over there, but then they go directly to my site and request a conversation rather than filling out the lead form. My web traffic shows a moderate amount of traffic coming from the guide directory. It’s up to you how much you flesh out your page, and the more you do, the better it will perform. The bigger source of leads for me is other guides. They have a good community there and people help each other, as well as referring to each other.

  • Hi, Thanks for writing this. That’s really helpful information. Question: Is there a yearly fee to remain a certified StoryBrand guide?

    • Yes, there is an annual renewal fee, which (currently) is about half of the certification fee. I think between 50-70% of guides renew, based largely on having made more than their investment back. The ones I spoke to who did not renew were ones who did not put in the time to apply the SB principles to their own work, or did not market SB as part of their services. If you are at all uncertain, it used to be that one would start with the live, 2-day course. Today, you can get much of the same info on, but it is NOT the same as attending live. The key difference of the live course is the STRUCTURE to not only learn, but to also do the work and get immediate feedback from guides/coaches who are in the room. Feel free to schedule a time to chat if I can be of further assistance (link on my home-page).

  • Hi Ashley,

    I see from the info above that the certification course is USD10K. But when I go to the link it says USD995. Is this accurate? I’m from the Philippines and I’m currently running a consultancy business and I’m contemplating on taking a certification course after reading the book and trying the program out with a friend’s business. The SB framework is quite powerful and I’d really love to learn more. Also, is there a big difference between taking the course on Looking forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much!

    • The $995 vs $10K is rounding. $5 here in the US is not a lot of money. There is a very high overlap right now between what one would get on and the CONTENT of the live workshop, which is currently about $1K when done as a live-streaming event. (Streaming on account of COVID-19.) When done in person, that 2-day workshop is between $2K and $3K.
      What you need to recognize is that the content is only part of the program. The other part is the structure and coaching that one gets in the live program, both of which are quite significant. It’s the difference between reading about swimming and getting into the pool with a swimming coach. Still, this is just for the basic StoryBrand course.
      You asked about the $10K guide certification. That’s more like learning to become a swimming coach… not only do you need to know how to swim, but also how to help others learn to swim as well. It’s an analogy, of course. But the guide program sits on top of the live program with another 2 days of training specifically about pitfalls that people encounter when trying to implement the SB7 process on their own, and considerably more resources. It’s also not open to anybody who wants to pay the money. There is an interview process to ensure that guide candidates know the basics of marketing, such that the guide program can build upon what they already have.
      Personally, I LOVE the StoryBrand process. I think it’s highly effective, and I love helping people through it – clients, as well as prospective future guides. Should you choose to pursue it, of course I would like for you to use my affiliate links in the article. And I am only an affiliate because of my genuine believe in their process. If you would like to have a conversation about using StoryBrand for yourself, or about joining the guide community, I would be delighted to have a conversation together. The scheduling link is on my homepage.

      • Hi Ashley,

        Thanks so much for the quick reply. I guess I misinterpreted USD10K as being USD10,000. USD1,000 here in the Philippines is usually written as USD1K. Sorry about that.

        So just to be clear, the Livestream workshop is separate from the certification program? Did I get that right? If so, does that mean that there’s a separate fee as well for the extra 2 days? Since I’m in the Philippines, my only option really is to take an online program regardless of the COVID-19 situation.

  • Thanks for the info, Ashley! From your experience, if someone has had several years of practical experience in marketing, but doesn’t have a marketing degree, does Story Brand Guide certification give someone sufficient credibility to offer their services as a brand/marketing consultant? Or is this certification meant for those with a formal marketing education?

    • You do not need a formal marketing degree for StoryBrand to be valuable to you as a marketer or consultant. You do need practical experience in marketing. The StoryBrand certification adds to what you already know. If it were all you had, you would still need to shore up some additional skills to maximize its value. That said, one of the key benefits I’ve found from the program is the ability to partner with other guides when specific needs arise. For example, some are better at visual design; some have more experience with niche markets; some are better with paid traffic. In all cases, there is a level of trust and camaraderie among the guide community that makes it a fantastic resource pool to draw from. Feel free to schedule a time to chat if it would help you with your decision.

  • Hi Ashley,I appreciate your review and thoughtful responses to comments. Have you seen a good match with professionally credentialed business coaches getting guide certification? That’s me (business coach)… I do a lot of work helping people clarify their message and hone their sales call skills. This program is very appealing to me because I’d like to increase then potential for guaranteed results for my clients. I’d love your thoughts and feedback.

    • Many professionally credentialed coaches don’t actually know the first thing about running a business or helping a client with their business. If you’re a coach, you could go through one of the StoryBrand courses, but unless you want to make that part of your offering, you would be better served by simply hiring a StoryBrand Guide. If you want to learn the underpinnings for yourself, I would recommend that you start with Business Made Simple University. Yes, it’s an affiliate link, and it’s an incredible offer of critical business education for less than $300. For additional information on the relationship between professional coaching programs as they relate to business coaching, see my series of articles on Is BMSU Coaching Worth the Money.

  • Hi Ashley – I have a graphic design background, have read Storybrand and taken the business made simple courses online. I am designing a website now and trying to implement the Story brand framework…I am wondering if you offer a review kind of service. I really need someone who knows what they are doing to take a look and give feedback. Do you do this and if so what is the cost? Planning on taking the on line course in Feb 🙂

  • I’m interested in what you earn as a coach 2 years on in early 2021. You mention you made $6500 in the first 3 months after becoming a coach. I’m looking at doing this in the next two years and would like to know if it’s ROI is good? Thx

    • My role as a StoryBrand guide continues to generate more than the licensing. How much more is entirely dependent upon how actively one promotes their business, more than the certification per see. That said, the listing on the guide directory has been of minimal value on three counts. The first is that more guides are joining the ranks. The second is that my own content is out-performing the directory. Thirdly, I’ve started direct advertising, which has proven most useful so far.
      More often, what I’ve found of late is that as StoryBrand becomes better known, there are people claiming to offer a “StoryBrand Approach” to their services, when it is nothing of the sort. I’m getting more clients after failures with pseudo-guides, and my own training can surface in a heartbeat where their pseudo-guide completely missed the mark. The point here is that the training matters. It’s worthwhile and useful. And if you wanted to get your feet wet, the best place to start would be to purchase Business Made Simple University for less than $300.

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