Sue Smith,
CBA Board Chairman

It has been a great learning experience for our Christian retail store to meet regularly to discuss Donald Miller’s latest book, Building a StoryBrand. Centered on this book, our leadership team brought into focus the “story” that can grow our business. We realize our product is a commodity that can be (and will be) sold everywhere, but Miller’s theory is that if we shift our business and marketing strategy through a simple storyline, we will stand out—and be sought out.


Our store’s story begins with the main character: people who seek a deepening faith. What does our character want? Answers to spiritual questions, solutions to problems—basically inspiration to survive and thrive.

What do they want from us? A guide to show them the way. “We have seen hundreds if not thousands of businesses experience an increase in customer engagement once they started positioning themselves as the guide. Simply turning our focus to the customer and offering them a heroic role in a meaningful story is enough to radically change the way we talk about, and even do, business,” writes Miller

So how do we position ourselves as the trustworthy guide for our customers? Miller says, “The two things a brand must communicate to position themselves as the guide are: Empathy (I understand you) and Authority (I am competent to meet that need).”

Consider a couple of practical examples in how the role of the trusted guide plays out.


I know many stores have incredibly knowledgeable staff because they know the product. Our store product is bought by a staff that works with the customers, not by a manager in an office. This depth of product knowledge has proven to position these frontliners as trusted guides because they are available to the customer (I understand you) and know the product well (I am competent to introduce product that will meet your need).


Seeking out church business means coming alongside their ministry to help guide them in their mission. Our stores share a mission of the Gospel message (empathy) and we can educate them on product while delivering on a great price (I am competent to introduce product that will share the Gospel message).

A recent email from a staffer at one of our local churches shows that she views us as a trusted guide: “Thanks for all your help. I am happy to support local businesses and you are always so prompt and even deliver, so I always come to you first.”

Is your store poised to be the trusted guide for Christian products in your community? Share those practical examples among yourselves, and most importantly guide with empathy and authority.