Anthony Garcia

Anthony Garcia

Anthony Garcia heads up Client Services for Buyer Legends.  Anthony began his career by way of radio broadcasting at the young age of 14.  After a 15 years in broadcast radio management Anthony became an ad writer and client consultant for Roy H. Williams “The Wizard of Ads” and managed a portfolio of high profile clients including Leo Schachter Diamonds and Robbins Brothers.  He went on to become the lead consultant for Future Now Inc. working with Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg to help clients like HP, Webex, and NBC Universal. Anthony has teamed up with the Eisenbergs to work with such clients as Runa.com, OneSpot, Adorama, and Google.

A Powerful Conversion Rate Hack – #CRO #CX #UX

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In our experience hacks often fall short. They rarely deliver meaningful results or deliver insight that leads to the next high impact change. A clever or creative hack that doesn’t improve the customer experience is just a band-aid. Hacks are tactical, not strategic. SunTzu wrote: “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”

Tactics are not relevant to your customers’ needs they are just more noise. If a ‘hack’ fails to increase your conversion rate, it’s not because the hack was bad. It’s likely more strategic; you don’t understand your customers needs well enough.

Hacks can be useful if they fit into a strategy. In order for them to be useful, they need to add value to your customers’ buying experience.

Where do good hacks come from?

Would you like to find a treasure map with high impact conversion optimization ideas for your business? You don’t have to wait for some guru to figure it out for you. You can generate your own hacks based on customers’ needs, problems and buying styles.

In our book Buyer Legends – An Executive Storyteller’s Guide Jeffrey Eisenberg wrote:

“We have worked with companies of all shapes and sizes that possessed varying degrees of talent and competence. We have tried it all, training and encouraging our clients to go deep into the marketing disciplines as well as guiding them through adopting a very robust optimization process.

But what we didn’t know early on was how a single piece of that optimization process, what we at the time called scenario narratives, would reveal itself over and over as the ‘one thing’ that has the largest impact on a company’s ability to sell more.”

The ‘one thing’ is a simple process we have developed over almost a decade of our work. The Buyer Legend process provides you a treasure map that any competent marketer can create. They can then use that treasure map to improve their customer experience. That leads to conversion rate increases of multiples instead of increments.

The most powerful hack revealed

It’s not sexy. It’s not hip and edgy. Yet it works every time.  Average marketers will often outperform others who are more experienced and talented.

Hack into your customer’s head. Uncover their needs and wants. Exceed their expectations. And then give them what they really want.

empathyThe simple process we developed to deliver on this promise is Buyer Legends. Buyer Legends will:

  1. Help you understand what your customers needs to provide persuasive momentum.
  2. Help you understand what delights your customers.
  3. Help you to create real-world improvements in your customer experience.

It will take you about 2 hours. Then you’ll have a real treasure map of conversion rate optimization ‘hacks’ for your business.

Make a commitment

You’ll need to commit to providing a better customer experience. Focusing on conversion rate increases is not enough.  It’s that commitment that requires true effort. There is no easy way to make a major impact, you always have to do the work. Trust me, it’s more difficult to be on the CRO hamster wheel. The status quo will continue to yield only incremental results.

We have already written and shared every step of this process on our blog. Of course, our book provides better context, it’s $2.99 on Amazon, but you don’t have to buy it to learn something about Buyer Legends.

Changing the narrative, the future of CRO

We want to start a new conversation about the future of CRO. To survive it must evolve. We want to help marketers help their customers buy. We want to help marketers avoid  irrelevant hacks. We want you to use this process and then tell the world about the results. It’s the only way to change narrative.

Every marketer struggles with managing resources.  Most feel they are under-resourced to make the kind of impact they would like. You don’t have to stretch your resources to test out and prove this process works.

We have also eliminated the “I don’t have the time excuse.” Creating your first Buyer Legend will take you about two hours.

The Buyer Legend process in action

The first step of the process is to create a profile or persona of one segment of your customers. Next you will use the persona to brainstorm a premortem list. The premortem focuses on all the things that go wrong in their customers’ experience. The premortem list alone should provide several new ideas for relevant hacks. You can read more about all five steps of the process here.

For example, we recently wrote about a smart frugal persona (Marcy). This persona was buying a microwave online. In her premortem, we uncovered how Marcy researches prices. If Marcy feels like she can get it cheaper elsewhere then she won’t stop looking. She needs to know that she is paying the lowest price. Bob’s Appliance Outlet (not the real customer) is a high volume low margin business. They sell on price. Now observe in this part of her Buyer Legend how we addressed this specific need:

“…Marcy stumbles upon a website for Bob’s Appliance Outlet. A large banner on the homepage announces that most items qualify for free shipping.  Even more impressive is a smaller banner in the top right corner of the page that says: “Want the lowest possible price? “Name your price” make an offer on any item in our store, and we will do our best to match it”. Marcy clicks on it. She reads the next page. She finds that the price offer feature is simple and straightforward. There is no fine print. She still wants to learn a bit more about the company and goes to the About Us page . After she reads this page she feels confident.  This is a credible company with a credible offer. She then does a site search for the microwave she is looking for and finds it. She reads through the product description and reviews for due diligence. She is delighted.  Her microwave qualifies for free shipping. Elated at the possibility of saving more than she expected, she enters an offer. It is $100 dollars under the lowest price she found elsewhere and hits the Buy button. A page comes back and tells her that her offer was too low but encourages her to try again. She didn’t think they would accept another offer, but felt it was worth a try. She enters a price that is $50 under the lowest price she found before.  This time the offer is accepted. Marcy is presented with a page that congratulates her. It lets her know that her item will ship today.  It asks her how she would like to be notified about shipping. It also asks if a text message is appropriate.”

This ‘name you own price’ checkout hack will be great for their Marcy-like customers. This is a great way to keep price scavengers from leaving their site without buying. Even with a phone number available, few prospective customers want to call Bob’s to haggle. Allowing Marcy to set her price is powerful. Of course, it’s all within the price parameters Bob’s sets in place.

You can give customer what they want

Going through the process and writing the Buyer Legend is rather simple and easy. Implementing this customer experience was a challenge. It was championed by someone in the C-suite. Fortunately, it was already described in great detail and that helped. It still took some testing to get it right for both the customer and the business.

This is just one of the powerful hacks that  came recently from following the Buyer Legends process.

So please, take this ‘hack’ and test it for yourself then please share your results with us good or not so good. We are always happy to entertain your questions and comments.

As always, we encourage you to try Buyer Legends for yourself.  If you need help coming up with your own treasure map of hacks, please let us know, we can help.


 

P.S.The game changers compass image was created by Dave Gray

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Convert More By Crafting Your Buyer Legend Well #CRO #CX #UX

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In this fifth, penultimate, post in the Buyer Legends Recipes Series will help you bring it all together. If you’ve created personas, you’ve done a pre-mortem, as well as a reverse chronology, planned the persuasive momentum, now it’s finally time to write the Buyer Legend itself. Your Buyer Legend will be the action plan for your company to execute on delivering and improved customer experience.

For some of you the idea of writing a story, in itself, sounds messy and even scary. While you probably could execute reasonably well based on the reverse chronology alone, it will not deliver the more subjective emotional experience of the customer. A story is a more powerful way to arouse understanding, empathy, and creativity in your team that is required to execute your planned customer experience. The power of story is part of our DNA. In our book Buyer Legends we explain:

Humans have only one tool capable of communicating the subjective experience of relationship through time, and that’s narrative. Ask someone about a favorite possession, and you’ll hear a story. Ask them about a friend or spouse and you’ll hear a story. There simply is no other way to talk about relationship. And that goes for the relationship between customer and company (or brand) as well.

Before we started using Buyer Legends we rarely saw a standard action plan transform the mindset of entire team. Nothing but stories make them more customer-centric in their thinking. Now with Buyer Legends, we regularly witness that transformation. Still, please realize that while the Buyer Legends process is simple and effective, but not necessarily easy. It’s much like exercising or getting healthy, if you put in the work it will yield results.

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Creating remarkable and persuasive customer experiences with your Buyer Legend

Your Buyer Legend, by design, will create the persuasive momentum necessary to help your customers buy rather than selling them. This is where the Buyer Legends process begins to pay off. It will illustrate  for the team the specifics of what they need to do.  In addition they will understand why they are doing it and how their work fits into the overall customer experience, which allows for better team coordination, and fewer execution cycles. But more importantly it will help you create a customer experiences that make your customers happier.

If you want to create a remarkable customer experience with your Buyer Legend instead of just an improved customer experience, you’ll want to add remarkable (worthiness to be remarked upon) to your story. A remarkable customer experience is what creates word-of-mouth. Meeting or slightly exceeding expectations will simply NOT be remarkable. If you haven’t uncovered a remarkable idea or two in the pre-mortem or the reverse chronology, now is a good time to brainstorm them by using your personas and asking them the following question: “What will impress the heck out of the persona in our Buyer Legend?”

Here are the four elements of remarkability that create word of mouth and help you be remarkable:

I.   Architectural – Apple’s products, packaging, and retail environment are architecturally remarkable, it is the core of their brand and allows them to charge a premium and reap a larger profit margins than their competitors. The erupting volcano at the Mirage in Las Vegas, and actually most casinos on the strip are architecturally remarkable.

II.  Kinetic – Google search results are kinetically remarkable because they are ultra-fast and highly relevant. They typically allow you to find exactly what you are looking on the first few results on the page. This has kept them at the top of the search engine game for years. The flashy cooks at Benihana or any teppan grill are also examples of kinetics. So are the fishmongers at Pike Place in Seattle who toss each other fish and create a fun atmosphere. The flashy lights, music, and satisfying sounds of a slot machine are by design kinetic, and excite people to take another spin. Uber and Lyft are examples of kinetics as well, by making it fast and simple to get a ride.

III. Generous – Being generous with your customer is always more efficient than advertising. It’s about delighting your customers by giving them something of real value for free or cheap. Jeff Bezos introduced Prime Membership which offers free two-day shipping for a relatively small yearly membership free, and every few months it seems that Amazon offers Prime members another real perk. Just last week they added a Spotify-like music streaming service not to mention a generous collection of free movies to stream, a selection of free kindle book rentals, and more. Bezos also opted for paying for Amazon Prime cost with a large proposed advertising budget. That has worked out well for Amazon.

IV.  Identity – Many strong brands create followers that identify with the values of the brand and in turn become cult-like in their obsession. To every Harley-Davidson owner every other brand of motorcycle is a poser. Every Apple fan will tell you until you can’t stand it anymore why you should buy an Apple computer rather than a PC.  Ikea is like crack for those that like to do things themselves and save a little. If your brand strongly exudes a value your identity will be remarkable. Of the four things that create word of mouth this is the most powerful but also the most difficult to execute, primarily because your entire company must have a passion for the values you emulate in your product or service.

Writing Your Buyer Legend

Following the entire process including your Buyer Legend will take you 1 1/2 to 2 hours total, depending on your writing speed. You will get quicker the more you use the process, we suggest you start with a small campaign first to get your feet wet. Obviously if you choose to write Buyer Legends for your entire range of customer experiences and deepen your research it will take substantially longer.

Budget approximately 90 minutes for a simple campaign:

  1. Select your perspective ~ 15 minutes
  2. Pre-Mortem list ~ 10 minutes
  3. Reverse chronology outline ~ 15 minutes
  4. Legend draft ~ 50 minutes

Here is the process for writing your Buyer Legend from our book.

  1. Unlike the outline, you want your story to unfold from the beginning to the end. Don’t be overly concerned with your writing style but rather focus on clearly and simply communicating what is happening to your customer as they journey through their experience with your brand. Be as detailed as possible.
  2. Here are some additional questions to consider as you write your first draft; what needed to happen to get the customer to complete your goal? What opportunities could you have missed? What loopholes haven’t been closed that would hold them back from buying? What opportunities (upsell/upgrade) can we take advantage of? What could you have done to make it easier for the customer along their journey?

Write your legend from the perspective of third-person omniscient,  this will give you a point of view that allows you to describe the journey in your customer’s head and of your campaign in detail.

Ideally, you will include all the following ten elements in your legend:

  1. A person. Who is your customer? This can be a persona or an ad-hoc persona that includes relevant customer data and insight into how the customer prefers to make decisions.
  2. The person’s purpose. What are the customer’s larger goals? How does she define herself? What is she trying to accomplish on a larger level, career wise, personally, socially, etc.? In other words, what is the context of her purpose and her motivation? These things will inform her smaller objectives.
  3. The objective of the interaction. What is she trying to achieve by interacting with your company? What is your conversion goal for this customer at this stage of her buying process?
  4. The sequence of steps in the person’s plan. Tell the story of what the customer is doing at every step of their progress through the sales/conversion process.
  5. The person’s rationale behind identifying the problem and executing a solution. Describe how the customer is thinking before, during, and after each step of the sales/ conversion process.
  6. The key decisions the person will make. Describe the crucial decisions the customer must make to complete the conversion, and describe what she needs (features, benefits, testimonials, reviews) to make that decision.
  7. The emotional struggles the person might face. However a person rationalizes a decision, every person makes the decision based on an emotional dynamic. What is the emotional dynamic? Is it a strongly-felt need? Pressure from others? Trust in the brand? Time versus money?
  8. The anti-goals that will put off a person. What kinds of things must you avoid in this experience? Every person pursuing a goal not only has an objective, they have concerns and anxieties around what they don’t want and don’t want to happen. If you don’t address these concerns and anxieties, or allow even a hint of possibility that these things might happen, you will jeopardize the sale.
  9. The additional constraints and considerations. What else does the customer need to consider? Does she have any limitations that may keep her from converting? Can you do anything to address concerns and remove those limitations?
  10. The reasonable alternatives available to the person. What other options does the customer have? What kind of experience might she have with a competitor? What if temporary or permanent inaction is a good option?

Additional comments on the instruction for drafting Buyer Legends

Those ten elements do not have to be in order, as long as each is present. The first thing to do after a first draft is to check for all elements, and if you left one or a few out, just add them in. Typically the most ignored and misunderstood element is #7: “The emotional struggles the person might face.” It is one of the most crucial elements. Most businesses believe that their customers make logical buying decision, this is untrue. All people, even the most logical thinkers you know, make an unconscious emotional decision first and use logic to justify their decision. Emotions also add tension and drama to the story, making it more compelling and understandable. Here are a handful examples of emotional struggles:

  • He was afraid his wife would be unhappy with him for buying this.
  • He was worried that acknowledging a problem might worry his boss
  • She was frustrated that she couldn’t find the exact product she was looking for.
  • He was afraid failing in this decision would get him fired.
  • She was afraid that this product contains allergens that would harm her child.
  • He felt guilty about last years birthday present being a dud he is on a mission to get the right gift this year.

You don’t have to be a skilled writer to pull off writing a Buyer Legend. You only need to be clear and detailed. You can always have a writer (on staff or 3rd party) edit your story, but the decision maker should preferably write the first draft. This is especially true if you have to work with two or more departments to execute. A high level executive, the owner or decision maker is the only one with authority to insure execution across different departments. Generally the higher up they are in the food chain the more potentially powerful your Buyer Legend will be. If you are a manager or department head, you can write a Buyer Legend for the area that you are responsible for, but you cannot always transform an entire customer experience just your piece of it. Of course we have seen department heads have success using their Buyer Legend to influence and persuade colleagues across departments to implement Buyer Legends because they make the case for a more holistic experience.

Pro tip: add storyboards and wireframes to your Buyer Legend

It takes a bit more work but when we propose Buyer Legend projects to our clients we often include the following language in our Statement of Work:

The combined Buyer Legend will be represented visually as one integrated experience with storyboard mock-up of new web pages, new content and telephone script content recommendations. This will be accompanied by narrative, commentary and callouts explaining the flow of each scenario for each persona.

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simple storyboard

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simple wireframe

 

How to can use your Buyer Legend

  • Executives can use it to better communicate your customer experience strategy from the top down, from the boardroom to the stockroom.
  • Marketers can use it to create and optimize campaigns no matter how big or small. It works for both online and offline and for any media platform.
  • Companies can use it to create and optimize an entire system, like a website, sales funnel, or a complete customer experience.
  • Managers can use it to optimize cycles and improve execution.
  • Customer service can use it to optimize customer service channels.
  • Analysts can use it to interpret analytics and make the case to optimize specific channels and experiences.
  • Product management can use it to create and optimize products and services.
  • Content creators and content marketers can use it to plan, optimize and create more relevant content.

We have provided several examples of short Buyer Legends in this series of recipe posts, but if you would like an example of a comprehensive Buyer Legend you can download the story we used to write the Buyer Legends book, you will find it on our resources page.

Buyer Legends are NOT fiction

Your Buyer Legend will always start as a fictional tale using a fictional story and fictional personas, but Buyer Legends are not meant to stay that way. Your Buyer Legend is about creating a new reality than can be experienced by your customers and optimized and measured by your company. Buyer Legends are accountable by design. Next up in our series we will talk about measuring your Buyer Legend once it is live in the real word, I’ll also give you some help in improving them as well.

We encourage you to try this for yourself, but if you need help, please let us know.

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P.S. This is the fifth in a series of Buyer Legends Recipe Posts , please sign up to our newsletter for updates.

 

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Personas: The Key Ingredient In Design For Conversion

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Personas are the least understood and most misused tool in marketing today. There are some good ones and we’ve also seen many that are not so good. It is no wonder there are mixed results when it comes to the use of personas in marketing.

This post starts with a basic review of personas and ends with a quick recipe to create ad-hoc personas you can use immediately in a Buyer Legend. There are lots of additional  links to other articles about personas; follow all the links and you will gain a thorough foundation in creating personas.

Are your existing personas doing their job?

Do you know how good your personas are? Do you know what to look for?

Personas should inform you about problems or opportunities in your current customers’ experiences and inform the design of fresh customer experiences. They should help you create a content marketing strategy and your overall marketing approach. No tool will serve a marketer better in overcoming the “curse of knowledge”  we all suffer from.

A quick way to test personas for their ability to inform decisions is by taking your personas and walking them through your existing customer experiences. Go ahead and try this experiment on your website experience. Act as if you are the persona, then proceed to buy the way you think they would. If you find yourself at a loss trying to imagine what your persona would do in many stages of their buying journey, then you need to have your personas reworked. Be careful. If those personas are making decisions similarly to the way you make decisions, that’s a red flag.

Don’t be surprised by the results of your experiment. Clients have shared personas that represented six-figure investments but were not useful in decision making. We have also used ad-hoc personas constructed in under an hour in order to inform effective and profitable campaigns.

To summarize, from an article “The Stepford Personas: What Lies Beneath?” we wrote:

Personas by themselves can only evoke empathy and understanding, a vital and noble goal, but without an action plan those personas are handicapped. Personas without an action plan are like exercise equipment bought with the best of intentions.

Improving Existing Personas

In an article from 2004 we defined personas this way;

Personas created for a persuasive experience must initially be defined by completely understanding customers’ needs. Their needs lead into character biographies that represent and convey their world view, attitude, personality, and behavior. Personas are constructed from research that describes their demographics, psychographics, and topographics, related to how they approach the buying-decision process for the products or services offered.

Where most personas fail is in their ability to evoke an empathetic response. Personas are presented in lots of interesting ways. Your challenge is to present data-rich deliverables so that they are impressive and attractive. However, the indispensable part of any persona presentation needs to be a narrative that tells the persona’s story. That narrative needs to supply insight to make it easy to imagine how that persona might behave and what his or her needs and preferences are. You can add value with more data and even visuals but be careful not to use them in place of more compelling narrative. The more believable the persona, the more powerful a tool it will be for putting yourself in your customer’s place.

Be specific in your persona; use a real name and provide details, even some that may be unrelated to their buying journey but inform you about their character. These details add to the believability of the persona. I will share more about that later in this article.

How an Effective Ad-Hoc Persona Can Help Create Customer Experiences

In the last installment of the Buyer Legends Recipe Series, on Persuasive Momentum, I introduced you to Marshall. Here is Marshall’s ad-hoc persona and a simple narrative:

Persona for: Mall Sunglass Kiosk

Name: Marshall Thomlinson

Profession: Regional sales manager for a Medical Supply Company in Denver, CO

Age: 36

Buying style: Makes fast, emotional decisions. Impulsive but picky.

Purpose: To keep stylish and trendy to project image of success with clients and everyone else.

Objective: To run errands at the mall; was planning on waiting until late spring to buy new shades.

Goal for Sunglass Kiosk: To sell Marshall a pair of shades.

Challenge: Marshall is supposed to be running errands, not shopping for sunglasses.

Marshall is getting tired of his sunglass collection. He wears his shades a lot, especially when driving around town and meeting with clients. He has a few nice pairs, but thinks he might be due for a new pair before summer hits. As a salesman, it is important for Marshall to keep up appearances and he loves to dress to impress. He never tires of the ladies complimenting his shoes or belt or ties. Marshall thinks of himself as a GQ man. Marshall is smooth and suave and tells himself that he is good with money even though he easily finds justifications for big ticket purchases. Two summers ago, he bought a 4-wheeler on a whim and took it out only a few times since he’s owned it. Fortunately, his income as a commissioned salesman should be $85,000-$110,000 this year, so it allows him some wiggle room.

Here are a few excerpts from the reverse chronology for Marshall’s experience with the Sunglass Kiosk. Notice how these particular events in the outline were informed by his personas and helped us plan a better experience:

  • Marshall still thinks the glasses may be a little too pricey for his taste, but the no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee puts him over the edge, and he decides to pull the trigger.
  • “Hard to find” appeals to Marshall’s need to be one step ahead of everyone, not to mention that the glasses match his personal style.
  • The kiosk associate notices the style that Marshall has fixated on and explains that the brand is taking off in the U.K., and are hard to find.
  • The kiosk associate also tells him that particular style is available with brown tint, which is best for driving (kiosk associate is presenting a new value).
  • Marshall checks the price but doubles back. The price is more than he has ever spent on just sunglasses.
  • The kiosk associate is helping another customer, but the booth has plenty of mirrors, with sunglasses displayed and arranged neatly, a fun sign inviting customers to try on, and even take a selfie to share on social media for a modest discount.
  • Marshall notices a new Sunglass Kiosk. He has been itching for a new pair, thinking he would wait until spring, but the styles look interesting so he stops to browse.

Here is another example of how an ad-hoc persona can be used in an e-commerce setting;

Persona for: Bob’s Online Appliance Outlet

Name: Marcy Douglas

Profession: Medical Billing Specialist, works from home in Elko, NV

Age: 29

Buying style: Makes deliberate and logical decisions. She is thorough and detail oriented.

Purpose: To find the best value, getting the most out of every dollar.

Objective: To replace a broken microwave.

Goal for Bob’s Online Appliance Outlet: To sell Marcy a microwave.

Challenge: Marcy will search extensively for the lowest price on the model she wants.

Marcy lives in Elko, NV, an isolated small town in the northeastern part of the state. She shops online for almost everything except for staple groceries. Her microwave stopped working a few days ago, and she put replacing it on her to-do list. Marcy wants to buy a microwave that will last at least ten years and she will be meticulous in her research. She is not afraid to spend up to $500 but her decision will be made on quality, durability, and features that matter to her. Once Marcy decides what model she wants, she will shop for the best possible combination of price and reliable vendor.

Now here is a partial reverse chronology that outlines Marcy’s experience at Bob’s Online Appliance Outlet.

  • Marcy smiles and thinks this was a fun experience. She got the exact microwave she wanted, free shipping, and a price $49 dollars lower than she expected.
  • The confirmation page congratulates and informs her that her price offer has been accepted. It informs her that her order will ship today and asks her how she would like to be notified when her order ships and provides a form that lets her choose if she wants a text, an email, or both.
  • Marcy presses Buy to submit her offer price.
  • Marcy knows she was being a little greedy enters a price $49 lower than the Best Buy Price. Marcy believes that this price represents a sizeable discount but she thinks she has a shot at getting accepted.
  • A page comes up to inform Marcy that her price offer was too low, but encourages her to try again.
  • Marcy decides to go for broke and enters a price that is exactly $100 lower than the Best Buy price.
  • Marcy decides she wants to try and order from Bob’s and test the price offer feature.
  • Marcy also reads through several of the reviews to see if they are any different or new information that she didn’t get when reading reviews on other sites. She is satisfied with what she reads, nothing new. This confirms that this is the microwave she wants.
  • Marcy is impressed that unlike the Best Buy and other sites that offer price match, Bob’s offers her a box below the price to enter a price offer herself and doesn’t require her to call a phone number and hassle with proving a lower price.
  • As she arrives on the product page she reads that this item qualifies for free shipping. She also reads the product specs just to be sure it is the right microwave. She also notices that the price is $9 more than the lowest price she has found so far.
  • She enters the model number into the search box.
  • The site’s homepage has a banner saying that certain items qualify for free shipping, she also notices something in the top right corner of the page that challenges them to make a price offer and Bob’s will try to match it.
  • Marcy arrives at Bob’s Online Appliance Outlet site knowing exactly what she wants.

I’ve provided B2C retail and ecommerce examples but, of course, this is exactly what you would do for lead generation, registrations or any other complex or B2B sale. You can read about those in other articles in this series.

You don’t have personas?

Paul Slovic, a researcher for the University of Oregon, recently conducted a study;

In one study, Slovic told volunteers about a young girl suffering from starvation and then measured how much the volunteers were willing to donate to help her. He presented another group of volunteers with the same story of the starving little girl — but this time, also told them about the millions of others suffering from starvation.

On a rational level, the volunteers in this second group should be just as likely to help the little girl, or even more likely, because the statistics clearly established the seriousness of the problem.

“What we found was just the opposite,” Slovic says. “People who were shown the statistics along with the information about the little girl gave about half as much money as those who just saw the little girl.”

Slovic initially thought it was just the difference between heart and head. A story about an individual victim affects us emotionally. But a million people in need speaks to our head, not our heart. “As the numbers grow,” he explains, “we sort of lose the emotional connection to the people who are in need.”

This is why targeting broad stroke customer segments isn’t effective . It is also the reason why stereotyped personas and too-plain vanilla personas don’t work. We encourage large corporations with large customer audiences to take time and create a set of personas (3-7 personas per line of business) that both evoke empathy and truly represent the needs and buying styles representing a majority of their customers’ decision-making styles.

Nevertheless, simple ad-hoc personas can get you more than halfway there if you don’t have the time and/or budget for more robust personas. Your personas need not be precise (the more precise the more time and money is required), but they need to be directionally accurate about how customers behave when engaged in their buying process.

Create ad-hoc personas

In Buyer Legends – The Executive Storyteller’s Guide, we shared how to create ad-hoc personas for your Buyer Legends.

Select your perspective:

  1. Whose story (or legend) is this? Start with basic demographics, which should be representative of your typical customers, when possible. If you have a broad base of customers, don’t worry about representing everyone for now, simply select a common type or segment to get you started. Begin to list the traits of your customer and be sure to name him or her. It helps to be specific in your list of traits, as you want to end up with something that sounds like a real individual rather than a generalized stand-in. Start with a name and then give them an exact age, a career, a title, even an income if it is relevant to the story. The goal is to make your customer come alive in the reader’s mind. While all this may seem a tad superfluous, names and specifics will help you and your readers imagine the persona as an actual person, which in turn, will inspire empathy. Adding a picture of your persona/customer using an image search is also helpful. You can image search using your selected name or career, for example.
  2. Next, consider the buying style of your customer. While there are several buying styles people use, your persona will primarily tend towards one style within the context of this one Buyer Legend. When in doubt, we’ve found that selecting a deliberate buying style provides the best results for a first-time use. A customer with a deliberate and detail-oriented buying style will, by design, ask the most questions and, because of their penchant for being thorough, will at some time in their journey reflect many of the other buying styles. This detailed-and-deliberate buying style most fears making the wrong decision, and as a result, will ask the most questions. They want to know how it works, why they would benefit from a specific feature, what it can do for them, and what happens if they aren’t satisfied? It is likely that your company has dealt with these buyers, so get familiar with their needs and questions and integrate them into your legend. Additionally, imagine this customer in the early-buying stage, early enough where they are not even aware of your service and/or product as a possible solution for them.
  3. Next, define your conversion goal. Think of this as the destination for this customer’s journey. What is the end of the story? Did they buy something? Become a lead? Complete a task? Write it all down.

In section B of the book excerpt we touched on only one buying type, the methodical buyer. And if you don’t have the time or resources to create more than one persona make it a methodical persona. But here are the four types as Bryan described here.

  • Competitive. Fast-paced decision-making, logically oriented
  • Spontaneous. Fast-paced decision-making, emotionally oriented
  • Humanistic. Slow-paced decision-making, emotionally oriented
  • Methodical. Slow-paced decision-making, logically oriented

If you have time for only two, we always suggest you have a methodical persona (because they ask the deepest questions), and a spontaneous persona (because they are fast-paced and ask the most relevant questions). The spontaneous persona likes flash and fun, and is generally driven by their need to have quick-paced, emotionally fulfilling, low friction experiences. The humanistic type is focused on the effect their decision will have on others; they are bent towards relationships not only with their loved ones, but also want to have a relationship with the companies they frequent, which means the human touch is important to their experiences, so they will be be more deliberate. The competitive persona is very decisive. It’s your sale to lose. The competitive persona is generally driven by their need to have quick-paced and logical experiences.

Ad-hoc personas are a quick way to get you started. If you already have personas and they are not informing your decision-making, then improve them, make them more real, or create ad-hoc versions using this process. Personas can be powerful tools in bridging the gap between you and your customers.

We encourage you to try this for yourself, but if you need help, please let us know.

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P.S. This is the fourth in a series of Buyer Legends Recipe Posts , please sign up to our newsletter for updates.

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Planning Persuasive Momentum In Customer Experience Design

Momentum

Buying a pricey pair of sunglasses at the mall was not on Marshall’s honey-do list, but a week after the purchase he couldn’t be more satisfied. They look great on him, he’s gotten compliments, and Marshall is telling everyone who will listen about this particular brand of shades.

Marshall’s simple buyer’s journey had a happy ending. Not all journeys end that way, but they should. The Buyer Legends process will guide you through planning buyer journeys like this one. In this third installment of the Buyer Legends recipes series, I want to explain one of the basic ingredients in every customer experience that ends happily. We call it persuasive momentum. If you are not planning persuasive momentum into your customer’s experience, you are leaving way too much to chance. And if you are anything like me, I like to keep chance as far away from my business as possible.

What is Persuasive Momentum?

In “Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?“, we defined persuasive momentum as “the progressive decision-making process that aligns the customers’ goals with our own business goals”. Whether intentional or not, your business is operating a persuasive system. Even earlier, in 2002, we defined a persuasive system like this:

Persuasive systems are complex. Their success depends on their ability to address the varying levels of need a user brings to the online experience. To be effective, a website must address these user needs at every point in the process.

While in the past we were often referring to websites, this applies to the entire customer experience which includes social media, traditional media, call centers, signage, product placement, packaging, customer service, sales collateral, direct mail, billboards, PPC, SEM, PR, websites, micro-sites, video, demos, sales training, employee training, and of course, one-on-one customer interaction. Each of these components (and some I likely missed) together form your persuasive system. The better you optimize your persuasive system the more efficient you will be at converting and reconverting customers. It is our experience that the companies that plan and optimize persuasive momentum usually convert 2-4 times better than their industry average.

Too often, we see marketers that are stuck on the sales/conversion funnel metaphor. They insist on believing that pouring more customers into the top of the funnel means more come out at the end. This is working too hard for too little return. Your sales/conversion funnel likely has some elements of persuasive momentum, but are they planned and designed to be optimized? It also has some leaks. Do you know what in your customer experience is working and isn’t working to move (or not move) customer forward toward your set conversion goal.

Micro-actions vs. Macro-actions

Because persuasive momentum is about enticing customers to take action, you must understand the two types of actions you want customers to take. Typically your conversion/sales goals are the macro-actions: capturing a lead, closing a sale, becoming a member. These are usually the actions that take up the most time and effort in terms of optimization and planning. Still, it is dangerous to ignore the micro-actions. Micro-actions are all the required smaller actions customers need to take to before they can take a macro-action. Micro-actions can be as simple as clicking a link, watching a video, reading content, clicking an ad, taking a note, and more. Without persuasive momentum, customers do not move forward in their buying journey.

The 3 elements of Persuasive Momentum

No matter if the action is micro or macro, there is a simple formula that will help you identify persuasive momentum or the lack thereof.

  1. Relevance. Are you relevant to my wants/needs/desires (search query)?
  2. Value. Do I know why you are the right solution for me? Have you explained your value proposition/offer well?
  3. Call to action. Is it obvious what I need to do next? Have you given me the confidence to take that action?

Ask these questions of every touchpoint, and you will quickly find if your touch points are missing one, two, or all three of these components. Longtime readers may recognize that  this is what we also call The Conversion Trinity.

Conversion_Trinity_Eisenberg

Example #1 – Retail

Now I want to expand and dissect the sunglass-purchase happy ending at the beginning of this article to show you where each action was propelled forward by this force called persuasive momentum.

Here is the reverse chronological outline of that customer experience, with comments pointing out how persuasive momentum was planned and built into the experience. You can assume the kiosk employee was trained on how to present sunglasses and assist customers in buying the right pair for them.

  1. Marshall likes the brand on Facebook and shares the page with a few friends he thinks would appreciate knowing about these shades.
  2. Over the week, his wife and 17 year old daughter and a few of his female co-workers told him they love his sunglasses.
  3. Marshall is wearing his new shades every chance he gets, even on a fairly overcast day.
  4. Marshall walks out of the mall, puts on his new shades, holding his head a little higher.
  5. Marshall runs his errands, anxious to get outside with his new shades.
  6. The kiosk associate thanks him, hands him his bag.
  7. Marshall uses Apple Pay to pony up for the sunglasses he selected, his preferred form of paying. (The presence of the pay terminal is the call to action, but offering Apple pay reduces friction in the buying process).
  8. The kiosk associate wraps his old sunglasses in the pristine new case, polishes the new shades carefully, packs up the cleaning cloth, and hand the new shades to Marshall.
  9. The kiosk associate asks him if he wants to wear them out of the store and offers to pack up his old sunglasses.
  10. Marshall announces he will take the sunglasses (notice how each micro-action was needed for Marshall to have the momentum to just go ahead and purchase the shades, our macro-conversion).
  11. Marshall still thinks the glasses may be little too pricey for his taste, but the no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee puts him over the edge, and he decides to pull the trigger.
  12. The kiosk associate tell him that he has a 14-day, no-questions-asked full refund or exchange warranty. (Again, the kiosk associate is presenting a new value).
  13. Marshall asks to see them, tries them on, and decides the brown tint is better, but mentions to the kiosk associate that he loves them but faintly protests they are a little too expensive.
  14. The kiosk associate also tells him that particular style is available with brown tint, which is best for driving (kiosk associate is presenting a new value).
  15. “Hard to find” appeals to Marshall’s need to be one step ahead of everyone, not to mention that the glasses match his personal style.
  16. The kiosk associate notices the style that Marshall has fixated on and explains that the brand is taking off in the U.K., and are hard to find (the associate is now presenting a new value in Marshall’s buying journey).
  17. Marshall checks the price but doubles back. The price is more than he has ever spent on just sunglasses (Marshall is losing persuasive momentum).
  18. Marshall spends time trying on a handful of different pairs, but keeps coming back to one particular style, he thinks it frames his face very well. They are not too big and not too flashy. (The selection offers Marshall more relevance, and he is taking a micro-action with every pair of shades he tries on).
  19. The kiosk associate is helping another customer, but the booth itself has plenty of mirrors, with sunglasses displayed and arranged neatly, a fun sign invites customers to try on, and even take a selfie to share on social media for a modest discount. (the sign is a call to action, but specifically a micro-action).
  20. Marshall notices a new sunglass kiosk. He has been itching for a new pair, thinking he would wait until spring, but the styles look interesting so he stops to browse. (new sunglasses are relevant to Marshall, #1 of the conversion trinity).
  21. Marshall is shopping at the mall, picking up some tools at Sears, and a book for his daughter at Barnes & Noble.

 

Example #2 – B2B Lead Generation

This is a totally different company with a completely different customer. You might recognize this reverse chronology outline from my last article. Here I added comments to point out the elements of persuasive momentum.

  1. Mark is excited to start scouting locations and using IdealSpot.com.
  2. Mark fills out a form that asks for his name, email and password. He clicks Join and creates an IdealSpot account.
  3. Marks sees that his privacy will be protected (reduces buying friction).
  4. He clicks on the Get Started button. It explains the cost, that he is setting up an account, and that account will allow him to enter potential locations and request reports as needed. This is a call to action for the macro-action. Notice how many ways Mark was introduced to the value of IdealSpot and how it propelled him forward through the buying journey.
  5. Mark is sold and wants to try IdealSpot. Still believing the pricing is too good to be true, Mark reads a section on the pricing page that explains how big data and learning algorithms dramatically reduce the cost of research allowing ideal spot to offer high value analysis and rock bottom prices. This page solidifies Mark’s belief that IdealSpot has even greater value to him.
  6. Mark wants to get a sense of their track record, so he goes to the Success Stories page and reads a handful of stories from IdealSpot clients who are having early success. He realizes that IdealSpot is a startup, and their long-term track record is not as established as it could be, but the low price point introductory price of $197 removes this barrier in his mind. (Mark gets more value here and this continues his persuasive momentum).
  7. Mark reads about the algorithm, how the data is loaded for each location, and how the the clientele used to predict success are chosen based on competitors’ and his type of business. He sees this is similar, even superior, to the methods used by much more expensive location research alternatives. (This page provides more value and increases persuasive momentum).
  8. Mark clicks through to the the IdealSpot “How Does it Work” page. (The promise of an answer behind the How Does it Work is another call to action for a micro-action).
  9. He reads about how big data is able to spot success patterns. It explains that most location analyses “hit the wall” when people become involved (and consultants like Buxton), and spend time and money collecting piles of data, but then have no way to relate it to the success or failure of their business. This is where big data and learning algorithms inject science into the process by mining through the data to pick out patterns of success or failure and the key factors driving those patterns. The algorithms act without human bias. They start from scratch and construct a model that is unique for each business based purely on results. (Mark is starting to understand IdealSpot’s value to him).
  10. Mark clicks on a link to a re-targeted blog post while he is on LinkedIn, the subject line “How Science and Big Data Are Changing the Ways Businesses Choose New Locations. (Call to action for a micro-action).
  11. Mark, who is familiar with similar services and has spend tens of thousands on this type of research, had looked into IdealSpot. He went to the website, but didn’t get past the first page. His concern was that it would be just a whole bunch of computer-collated data with very little holistic insight into his needs as a business. In other words, it sounds too automated to be of real-world use. (This service is relevant to Mark).

The reverse chronology outline is the step in the process that allows you to address customer needs and plan persuasive momentum, while the pre-mortem will help you identify the relevant needs of the customer, as well ways to address the value of your product/service offerings.

Persuasive momentum is not an abstract concept, it needs to be planned concretely so that it can be implemented and optimized. Persuasive momentum lets you align the customers’ goals with your own goals. That is the only way both customer and company get to have the happy endings that you both desire.

We encourage you to try this for yourself, but if you need help , please let us know.

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P.S. This is the third in a series of Buyer Legends Recipe Posts, please sign up to our newsletter for updates.

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Recipes For Practical Customer Experience Design & Optimization #CRO #UX #CX

miseenplaceIf I gave you a recipe some of you would be thrilled and others not so much. You can cook a gourmet meal that will have your taste buds fox trotting. I know that to be true. When it comes to food there are alternative ways to acquire a great meal. However, when cooking up great customer experiences there are no alternatives. If you want customers to to tell the only story that matters, why they love your company, you’ll have to learn how.

Have you ever followed a recipe only to find that you aren’t ready for the third step? I have. The results? Frustration and a poor meal. A few years ago it was takeout or starve, but now, I love to cook. I credit mise en place, that’s French for having having everything in its place as you cook, for my conversion from takeout king to aspiring chef. Mise en place is a small amount of effort expended up front that actually saves me tons of time and guarantees tasty dishes.

The Buyer Legend process is like a recipe for designing great customer experiences. You can use Buyer Legends to define and improve your content marketing, social marketing, search marketing, conversion rate optimization and thereby improve your communications, execution and revenues. You just need to follow the recipe. We’ve published a basic Buyer Legend recipe  but I’ll be adding more detail in this series.

I’ve been training clients and staff in the Eisenbergs’ processes’ for over a decade, Let me show you how to prepare mise en place for the Buyer Legends process.  This is the first in a series of articles that will address each major step of the Buyer Legends process.

Pre-mortem because it is the antidote to Murphy’s Law 

First we’ll explore the most impactful step of the process, the pre-mortem. Some of our largest conversion wins over the last two decades ever were the result of our clients going through the pre-mortem exercise.  Murphy’s law states that everything that can go wrong usually will and a pre-mortem will help you spot previously invisible problems in your current customer experience as well as plan against future problems. But the pre-mortem step is not for the faint hearted as it may show you things about your precious baby that are not as attractive as you wanted to believe.  The only thing that makes a pre-mortem more powerful is by doing a pre-mortem on a persona by persona and then scenario/ campaign by scenario basis. Read the first Buyer Legend Recipe Post here...

Reverse chronology because it explains conversions

Assuming you have a product or service worth buying then you and your customers have the same goal.  You want to sell and they want to buy. That’s why when you are planning a customer experience it is always best to start at the end point and work your way backwards to the beginning.  This step requires you to get very specific about how and why every decision and action needs to be taken in the buying journey.  It’s specificity also makes this step important to measuring and optimizing your customer experience when you finally implement it. Your Buyer Legend isn’t fiction so every detail must be accounted for, not only that but you must create persuasive momentum at every step. Read it here.

Persuasive momentum because there’s no such thing as a sales funnel

Your customer isn’t truly in a funnel. There’s no gravity compelling them through your experience like there is in a real funnel. There is only the customer’s motivation and your understanding of that motivation to create persuasive momentum. Persuasive momentum is the progressive decision making process that aligns the customer’s goals with our own business goals. I’ll show you the three step test that will insure your customers’ experiences are always relevant, valuable and compelling. Read it here.

Personas because their motivations become your action plan

Personas are a common marketing tool, but their value is often misunderstood. Simply put, personas should inform you about exactly what you need to be doing. Personas can be elaborate constructs based on reams of research and data, or they can be constructed quickly with data and information at hand, but as long as they are directionally accurate reflections of a segment of your customer they can be powerful tools that will guide your Buyer Legends processes. I will be discussing how to construct ad-hoc personas as well as help you evaluate and if needed fix your current personas if you have them. Read it here.

Write a Buyer Legend because the only story that matters is your customers’ story

This is the step when you actually pull out your pots, grab a spatula and fire up your burners.  I will tell you all the ingredients to include so you can have them at the ready. This is the step where all your previous work begins to pay off and when you’re done you will have an action plan that can be distributed, implemented, tested, and optimized.  A Buyer Legend is where the rubber meets the road. Read it here.

Measurement because if analysts cannot tell the stories and business people cannot measure the stories then the strategy isn’t truly aligned with customers’ needs.

Your Buyer Legend isn’t fiction, it’s not for fun or for entertainment, or even for creative fulfillment.  This is business, and anything important to a businesses success should be measurable and accountable.  Buyer Legends are both and I will give you a primer on measuring, optimizing, rinsing, and repeating. Read it here.

The Buyer Legend process orchestrates your best efforts and reconciles them to the needs of your customers so you can create profitable customer experiences.  If you want to become even more legendary at using this process I challenge you to follow this recipe series. I look forward to your feedback, questions, and hearing your success stories.

This series is now complete. Please visit all six posts.

As always, we encourage you to try Buyer Legends for yourself, but if you need help, please let us know.

 

 

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The Pre-Mortem As Antidote To Murphy’s Law

murphy__s_law_by_cutty_sark
Things go wrong.  Murphy of Murphy’s law fame says so. In fact Murphy goes further by stating that whatever can go wrong will. It’s my experience that Murphy is usually right. So I am not taking a faith leap to tell you that right now things are going wrong with your customer experience.

And some of those things are costing you, costing you dearly.

Some of those things are obvious, and you are likely trying to fix them. Other things, not so much. And that is where your biggest opportunities for improvement exist. As well as opportunities to plan against them in the future.

Let me introduce you to the pre-mortem, the antidote to Murphy’s Law.

Gary Klein of the Harvard Business Review writes

A premortem is the hypothetical opposite of a postmortem. A postmortem in a medical setting allows health professionals and the family to learn what caused a patient’s death. Everyone benefits except, of course, the patient. A premortem in a business setting comes at the beginning of a project rather than the end, so that the project can be improved rather than autopsied. Unlike a typical critiquing session, in which project team members are asked what might go wrong, the premortem operates on the assumption that the “patient” has died, and so asks what did go wrong. The team members’ task is to generate plausible reasons for the project’s failure.

In our book, Buyer Legends: The Executive Storyteller’s Guide, we describe the pre-mortem process as it relates to the Buyer Legends process.

  • Begin by having your Team imagine that the customer has completed her (or his) buying journey and either didn’t buy at all, didn’t buy what you sell (in favor of an alternative solution), or bought from a competitor. Now ask yourselves:

    • What went wrong that led to these outcomes?Your intuitions about the most likely bad outcomes and most likely causes will be more insightful than you may think.
    • This process will give your team permission to voice doubts or fears about your brand’s interaction with customers that they might not otherwise feel safe in doing.
  • For every wrong turn, missed opportunity, or bump that could derail the customer’s successful journey, take time to imagine how that process would most likely play out. For instance, how would this detail-oriented customer react if a major detail about your product is left out of their journey or if that detail was hard to find? What would that look and feel like, and at what point would that frustration or anxiety actually derail the sale?

  • Now think up fixes, resolutions, and workarounds for each failure point. The point to the pre-mortem exercise is to give you insight into problems that exist in your current buying paths, so that you can then use it to immunize your conversion funnel from common (and not so common) mistakes that will keep your customer from closing the deal. Understanding these will help you write a more realistic and helpful Buyer Legend when you move onto the next step of Reverse Chronology.

The reality is that most companies lose more sales every day than they make, and we have stated in the past that if you are converting less than 15% you need to evaluate what is broken in your customer experience, get to the bottom of what is going wrong, and plan to get it right.  That is why, hands down, the pre-mortem step is the most impactful step of the entire Buyer Legends process.  In fact, rarely does this exercise fail to produce at least one a-ha moment for our clients.  When you imagine the sale is already dead it frees up all the mental energy that you used to try and get the sale and points it at all the potential pitfalls and problems in your experience.  A pre-mortem is powerful optimization technique but also imagine how powerful it is when you are designing a new customer experience from scratch.

After you perform your pre-mortem you will likely end up with a long list of potential proof of Murphy’s law, but not everything on your list is equal.  Some thing are worth your effort some are not.  In my work with clients we often use Eisenberg’s Hierarchy of Optimization to separate the more pressing issues from the tinier ones.  First sort the list of problems into the follow categories.

Functional. Does this product/service do what the prospect needs? How easy is it for a prospect to determine this?

Accessible. Can she access it? What are the barriers to her ability to realize the need? Is it affordable, reasonable, and findable?

Usable. Is it user-friendly? Are there obstacles?

Intuitive. Does the sales process/Web site feel intuitive and natural based on her buying preferences? Is she forced to endure unnatural buying modalities to realize her need?

Persuasive. Does she want it? Does she truly understand if it fills her need or solves her problem? Is her expectation reasonable? Will she be delighted?

eisenberg-graphic-1

Once they are sorted simply work your way up the pyramid.  Again, remember not every problem is in search of a solution, and you should focus on the problems that are likely to impact the most customers, and problems that you can actually fix. Analytics can also confirm some of the problems you identified exist and give you an indication of which ones are causing you the most grief.

Performing a simple pre-mortem should be a common business practice, but the Buyer Legends process turns it up a notch.  A pre-mortem when used in conjunction with personas (I’ll cover these in more detail soon) will uncover more specific problems and allow you to address the unique problems that exist in more than one customer segment.

Be warned, the pre-mortem is not for those that like to play peek-a-boo. If you like to pretend that the only problems that exist are the ones that you can see then skip over the pre-mortem.  This is not an exercise for anyone that wants to hear the that their not so attractive baby is a supermodel.

We encourage you to try this for yourself, but if you need help , please let us know.

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P.S. This is the first in a series of Buyer Legends Recipe Posts, please sign up to our newsletter for updates.

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Mom Wants You To Improve Your Customer Experience

The holidays are here, and so is the holiday advertising.  In light of all the data about online purchasing and mobile usage, offline retailers are using their ads to relentlessly promote their online and mobile channels this year.  It is obvious that these retailers are struggling to optimize their online customer experience to compete with the likes of Amazon, but offline these retailers are doing very little to evolve the in-store customer experience. An in-store experience should be a lot more than product placement, store design, and lighting.  The in-store experience should more deeply consider the needs of the customer as she shops.
Are a large number of your customers moms?  Then, watch this video:
This ad ranked #10 in AdWeeks Best Ads of 2014 because it tells such a powerful story about how our moms are such under-appreciated superheroes. A mom’s job never ends. They are cooks, maids, babysitters, nurses, drivers, and usually the chief purchasing agents for their families. Yet, can you imagine a corporate sales rep  treating a corporate purchasing agent with such indifference? Talk to any mom about the challenges she faces when she simply bundles up her three-year-old and heads to the store.
Now imagine how much harder all that is during Christmas season. Instead of thinking of new ways to hock your wares at full blast whenever she is nearby, what can you do to take care of her and her needs as she shops? What about your customer experience is unnecessarily difficult for her?

  • Does she feel like a criminal when she returns something because she has to jump through half-a-dozen hoops?
  • How long does she have to wait as she wrestles with a hungry, screaming child?
  • Is there a safe space where she can take a break from shopping for a few moments to tend to herself or her child?
  • Is there anything more you can do to help her entertain her child as she waits in line?

Can you see how powerful it can be to just understand the story of a modern-day mom when you place her in the context of your customer experience? That is exactly what Buyer Legends is all about.

Do you think you can use this story as the basis for creating a different story/legend that improves your own customer experience for moms?

We would love for you to share your legends, thoughts, and ideas.

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Data Takes Center Stage This Week – 5 Posts You Might Have Missed

Data takes center stage in our discussions this week.
I. Earlier this month IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub released its 2014 Holiday predictions.  By analyzing billions of data points from in-store and online transactions IBM made 6 predictions for retailers, here is one of them
Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy: Smartphones will continue to lead in mobile browsing over the five-day shopping period, accounting for 29 percent of all online traffic versus 15 percent for tablets. However, IBM predicts tablets will account for twice as many mobile purchases than smartphones thanks to the larger screen size.
As a retailer the obvious opportunity this data analysis presents is the justification to optimize your site for tablet shopping.  Utilizing data for spotting trends like this is immensely valuable, but understanding the reason why these trends occur can uncover even more opportunities
In the case of this prediction, the fact that more people buy on tablets is only half the story, and it begs the question;  why aren’t people buying from their phones?
In a post on IBM’s SmarterCommerce Blog Bryan Eisenberg demonstrates how using Buyer Legends coupled with IBM’s data analysis can reveal even more powerful insights and more opportunities for retailers to take action. Bryan explains the key to understanding the “why” behind your data is knowing that data is always telling a story about people .  Bryan writes:

 

Those people have a vast array of thoughts, opinions, preferences, feelings, needs and motivations. The actions those people take are measurable, as evidence of that vast array of thoughts, opinions, preferences, feelings, needs and motivations. An analysis based entirely on the numbers can only take you so far.

II. On this blog we talked about Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, a trendsetting data-driven superstar whose recent fall from grace reveals more about the misuse of data than about the state of data driven business practices.

III. A research study about charitable giving prompted this post where we discuss the power of targeting your marketing at one person(a) at a time.

IV. Storytelling is such a powerful communications device that some are using it to increase their personal productivity, it is no wonder that it is so effective at improving communications, conversion, and execution in your marketing.

V. Roger Dooley at Forbes read our book Buyer Legends – The Executive Storyteller’s Guide and had some great insight into the book’s strengths and what makes the Buyer Legends process both unique and relevant.  He also left us this nice review on Amazon

Have a great weekend!

 

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Confused About What Comes First, the Customer or the Customer Data?

Data-Driven Poster Child Tesco Loses Its Halo

Teswhich came firstco had been recognized as a data-driven company that wowed investors. Now not so much, with its market value at an 11 year low. Investors are understandably disappointed. Should that give us pause about the value of customer data? Harvard Business Review might be making that case but we aren’t so sure. Tesco simply didn’t use data to support the customer experience. It seems to have used data to support the decisions it was already determined to make.

Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket chain, got that way by pioneering the use of data specifically by mining data from their customer loyalty cards. Michael Schrage at Harvard Business Review writes:

With the notable exception of, say, an Amazon, no global store chain was thought to have demonstrably keener data-driven insight into customer loyalty and behavior.

Observers and those in the UK may already know that Tesco is on a downward spiral with it’s market value plummeting to an 11 year low.  A big part of the problem seems to be a major gaffe the company made in estimating it’s profits.  But there are other problems. Schrage continues

But the harsh numbers suggest that all this data, all this analytics, all the assiduous segmentation, customization and promotion have done little for Tesco’s domestic competitiveness since Leahy’s celebrated departure. As the Telegraph story further observed, “…judging by correspondence from Telegraph readers and disillusioned shoppers, one of the reasons that consumers are turning to [discounters] Aldi and Lidl is that they feel they are simple and free of gimmicks. Shoppers are questioning whether loyalty cards, such as Clubcard, are more helpful to the supermarket than they are to the shopper.”

Making The Anti-Data Case

That makes sense.  But then Schrage begins to speculate.

How damning; how daunting; how disturbing for any and every serious data-driven enterprise and marketer.  If true, Tesco’s decline present a clear and unambiguous warning that even rich and data-rich loyalty programs and analytics capabilities can’t stave off the competitive advantage of slightly lower prices and a simpler shopping experience. Better insights, loyalty and promotion may not be worthless, but they are demonstrably worth less in this retail environment.

A harsher alternative interpretation is that, despite its depth of data and experience, today’s Tesco simply lacks the innovation and insight chops to craft promotions, campaigns and offers that allow it to even preserve share, let alone grow it. What an indictment of Tesco’s people, processes and customer programs that would be. In less than a decade, the driver and determinant of Tesco’s success has devolved into an analytic albatross. Knowledge goes from power to impotence.

Schrage seems to want to give data driven business practices a blanket indictment.  But what if the actual problem wasn’t Tescos inability to innovate or create new promotions?  What if the problem wasn’t the fact that Tesco is a data-driven company? What if data-driven marketing isn’t doomed?

Data vs. The Value Of Correct Data Analysis & Execution

Assuming that data really does drive Tesco’s marketing, it is our guess that they made one or both of the following errors.

First, they may have been driven by the wrong data and were working to increase the wrong metrics.  Many companies use only the data that supports their current intuition. Bryan Eisenberg explains  how Amazon’s four pillars of success  revolve around data. If you read it  you will learn how Amazon avoids this pitfall.

Second, they may have gotten so buried in data analysis that they lost sight of the simple fact that all that data always tells a story about people.  Data simply measure the actions people take based on their feelings, motivations and situations. May I recommend that you check out, on IBM’s SmarterCommerce blog,  Bryan’s demonstration  of how using Buyer Legends avoids this pitfall this by turning data into story and then story into action.

Does your company use data to support the customer experience or does it use data to support decisions it’s already determined to make?

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Why Target Audiences So Often Miss The Mark

 

 

You can always identify someone as an amateur broadcaster. I was in broadcasting for 15 years but I can tell you how to spot one too. All you have to do is listen for, “you guys”, “Hello everyone”, or “You all out there”. The best broadcasters are the ones who make you feel like you are the only one they are talking to.

Stephen King writes all of his novels to one person, his wife. He calls her his ‘ideal reader’, and encourages every writer to have one of their own. King is well aware that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people will read his latest book, but he also knows he can’t think about impressing all of them at the same time, so instead he focuses exclusively on his ideal reader. He knows her well, knows her tastes, her preferences, he adores her and ceaselessly wants to impress her with his writing prowess. It is very sweet, even romantic, but it is also a wicked smart recipe for powerful writing.

Seems that human beings can truly empathize with only one person at a time.

NPR’s Shankar Vedantam writes about Paul Slovic, a researcher for the University of Oregon, and his recent findings;

In one study, Slovic told volunteers about a young girl suffering from starvation and then measured how much the volunteers were willing to donate to help her. He presented another group of volunteers with the same story of the starving little girl — but this time, also told them about the millions of others suffering from starvation. 

On a rational level, the volunteers in this second group should be just as likely to help the little girl, or even more likely, because the statistics clearly established the seriousness of the problem. 

“What we found was just the opposite,” Slovic says. “People who were shown the statistics along with the information about the little girl gave about half as much money as those who just saw the little girl.” 

Slovic initially thought it was just the difference between heart and head. A story about an individual victim affects us emotionally. But a million people in need speaks to our head, not our heart. “As the numbers grow,” he explains, “we sort of lose the emotional connection to the people who are in need.”

This is why broad appeal messages targeted at general ‘audience segments’ yield such sub par results, or why staring at research decks and spreadsheets of data alone cannot bring a marketer the deeper emotional understanding needed to truly touch a nerve in the hearts of customers.

The most powerful marketing hones in and focuses on an audience of one.

This is also why personas, coupled with Buyer Legends, are explosive in the hands of a good marketer. Personas and Buyer Legends give companies the tools to focus on the needs, wants, preferences, and motivations of ONE single person(a) at a time, and then tell the story of how they are currently experiencing and should be experiencing your brand. This allows marketers to design the ultimate customer experience.

Are you using Personas?

If you don’t have personas, our new book Buyer Legends – The Executive Storytellers Guide walks you through creating some Ad hoc personas as well as writing your first Buyer Legend in about 90 minutes.

If you are already have personas, but aren’t so impressed with them, you might like to read Bryan Eisenberg’s post – The Stepford Personas: What Lies Beneath 

Please let me know how things turn out.

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