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How a Social Media Agency Increases Conversions

Dennis YuIt’s 10 o’clock on a Friday night and you are at the bar. George Clooney strolls in and sits down at the bar.  After a long while George retreats, leaving the bar head down and alone.  You look over and see Scarlett Johansson alone despite greeting every man that passes her way.  She leaves the bar looking rejected and pathetic.  And then “the most interesting man in the world’ walks in, takes a seat, orders, and he is unceremoniously delivered a 48 oz can of Bud Light.

Now imagine how you would feel watching that scene.  That is exactly how we felt when our friend Dennis Yu told us he was struggling to convert leads in his new business venture.

Dennis Yu is a social media marketing rock star.  Dennis is a sought after speaker, works with impressive brands, is wicked smart, and is one of the nicest guys we know. Dennis is also a customer data ninja, and is one of the world’s most formidable Facebook marketers.

Dennis offers high end services to his big name clients, but he also co-founded and serves as CMO/CTO for a company called BlitzMetrics making his expertise more affordable and accessible to SMBs.  BlitzMetrics provides a simple solution for smaller scale businesses to manage the complexities of their social media marketing.  In the spirit of full disclosure,we are a BlitzMetrics. client so we have experienced first hand how easy it is to get started. And, of course, we have been thrilled with the results of our campaigns.

BlitzMetrics’s Conversion Challenge

After talking to Dennis we were surprised to learn how many well qualified leads never got started. We knew that the price couldn’t be the issue, their credibility is high and we found the process of onboarding painless and simple. There was absolutely some conversion challenge none of us understood.

We offered to take Dennis and his team through the Buyer Legend process.  Dennis had read our book and was starting to do some preliminary work. Anybody can do this process alone but we wanted to make sure it happened quickly and correctly. When we got Dennis and his team on a conference call and began by polishing up his ad-hoc persona. The persona of a potential client was unlike us, and that’s the point. The persona was the CMO of a click and mortar SMB with less digital experience who pressed for resources and time. That perspective was truly unlike Dennis’ or our own.

We performed a pre-mortem for the Persona, a step many are tempted to skip but is mission critical. In a pre-mortem we list all the things that can go wrong during the customer’s buyers journey.  We think of it as inoculation against Murphy’s law, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” It is essential to figure out what could go wrong. How else can plan for everything to go right?

We followed the pre-mortem with a reverse chronological outline. That is where we detail every step of the Persona’s ideal customer experience by starting at the conversion point and working our way backwards.  Part of the exercise is to both think of the actual action steps the customer must complete as well as outline their thought process as they approach each step. It’s a bit like programming, miss a step and your result will vary.

We then wrote a Buyer Legend together, you’ll be able to read it below. We’ll also point out what innovations and process optimizations came out of it.

Dennis Yu’s A-Ha Moment

It wasn’t that long into our two-hour call Dennis had a powerful a-ha moment.  There was an awkwardly long silence and Dennis blurted out “Oh I see!”

He shared what he saw with us after the call:

“We’ve been so focused on mining data, generating reports galore and micro campaign optimizations, that we’ve lost sight of the fundamentals.

We neglected why people come to us and what the experience looks like wearing their shoes. Our inward myopia created barriers to customers who want to buy from us.”

This simple business process is designed to help the marketer get inside a customer’s head triggered a paradigm shift for one of the smartest marketers we know.  Dennis is a naturally intuitive and empathetic marketer.  He only needed a few simple exercises to realign his conversion efforts.  He began to see the gaps and the roadblocks in his current customer experience to understand how he can patch them up.

Dennis had found his conversion mojo.

How The Process Delivered Insight

To give you a little more insight into the process let us share just a few of the bullets from the pre-mortem.

  • She gets confused and walks away because it is too much of a hassle to figure it out
  • She doesn’t understand exactly what BlitzMetrics does.
  • She is unclear about her package options
  • She has sticker shock

It was during the reverse chronology when Dennis began to reconcile “What could go wrong” with “What is going wrong” that he had his a-ha moment.  The fog cleared, the scales fell away and he was able to see and think through how to prevent these things from occurring.  The final Buyer Legend reflects, in narrative form, exactly how BlitzMetrics is building an optimized customer experience for Diana and other potential customers with similar buying styles.

A BlitzMetrics Buyer Legend

Here is an abridged version of the Buyer Legend that we wrote together. It tells part of the story of the persona named Diana, a 43 year old CMO for a small Gourmet Pie chain. Diana comes from traditional marketing and is trying to get a handle on the digital aspects of her job.

Diana is hoping that when she contacts BlitzMetrics they will be part of her solution, not just another problem. She was impressed with Dennis’ presentation and knows he is really smart guy, but she isn’t sure what BlitzMetrics does. For that matter, she’s not really sure what Facebook marketing is either. It helps that Dennis took her card he told her “we’ll take care of you.” He wouldn’t be the first vendor who disappointed her, but she is hopeful.

BlitzMetrics follows up within 24 hours of Diana meeting Dennis and invites her to find out how they can help her.  They offer either a quick call to answer her questions or to do some due diligence with her so that they can produce a proposal. She doesn’t want a call, she’s too busy, and asks for some more information. She gets it immediately.

She is thrilled to see it contains not just the clearest explanation of what BlitzMetrics does but it includes some thumbnail pictures of what the deliverables look like and a wide range of pricing. The wide range of prices lets her feel at ease that pricing is not being hidden and hopeful that there is Goldilocks service for her situation. At the end of the presentation, it has a prominent call to action that tells her to request a detailed checklist of what needs to be prepared for her to receive a customized proposal from BlitzMetrics.

Diana loves how helpful the checklist is, so she shares it with the team that needs to implement it and requests another call to go through it. BlitzMetrics organizes that and doesn’t assume anybody has seen the original presentation so they go over it briefly. She appreciates how easy BlitzMetrics is making her life and how they’re making her look good.

Once Diana receives the proposal, amazed at how quickly it came and how thoroughly clear it is, she has a final meeting with Steve and Rob, the CFO, to explain that the service costs are fixed but the media costs will be variable. She shows them how BlitzMetrics helps contain costs and can demonstrate accountability. They’re impressed with the professionalism, understand what they are buying and are ready to proceed. Steve sends the contract for legal review but is prepared to proceed.

Did you notice that the idea of sending her information (as opposed to pushing her into a call), detailed checklist, and transparent pricing are a direct result of what we did in the pre-mortem and reverse chronological outline?

What Came First, the Process or the Rock Star?

The Buyer Legends process while simple, is also powerful in it’s ability to force the marketer into the minds and hearts of the customer. It’s only in their minds and hearts that he can resolve their conversion challenges and then communicate what needs to be done to the execution team.

And it doesn’t matter if you are the George Clooney or Scarlett Johansson of marketing the Buyer Legends process can up your game, or get you unstuck.  If you are still looking to become a rock star, try writing your first Buyer Legend and see what it does for you.

Go ahead read the book, or let us know and we will be happy to help you.  

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Ignore The Top 7 Marketing Trends for 2015

Facepalm GirlNot so long ago Jason Demers listed what he thinks are the 7 Top Marketing Trends Of 2015 in his Forbes.com column.

Here is his list…

  1. Mobile-optimization will become more important than ever
  2. Social media ad spend will sharply increase as brands realize the importance of social media marketing
  3. Content marketing will be (even) bigger than ever
  4. Email marketing will receive a renewed focus
  5. The lines between SEO, content marketing & social media will become more blurred
  6. Brands will scramble to humanize
  7. Marketers will find new ways of making native advertising less promotional and more relevant

It’s a reasonable list and these are the trends. You can’t really ignore them. However, can you spot what’s missing?

Apparently the customer got lost in the shuffle. There is remarkably little emphasis on delivering delight to customers despite all the new technologies available for gathering data about what the customer wants. Every one of these seven trends is about the changing nature of message delivery.

The one overwhelming marketing trend of the past decade is the ever increasing control the customer has over a company’s marketing story. Have you noticed?

Brands are no longer what the marketers say they are, they truly are what customers say they are. Marketers can no longer rely on telling a powerful story alone no matter what medium they use. Their brands have become transparent, open for the world to see, and technology is the medium not so much for shouting a message but for listening for one.

I’d like to believe that all marketers are focused on the customer, but it is demonstrably untrue.

I wish that 2015 would be the year of legendary marketing but I’m not holding my breath.

I hope that 2015 is the year when your customer becomes the hero of your Buyer Legend; you’ll be a legend in my mind.

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Designing The Perfect Funnel

TomFishburnefunnelYou’ve planned the campaign or the test.

You’ve designed the checkout or registration.

You’ve invested time and energy.

Now your customers come along and enter your funnel.

Let’s get real, 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.

Your customers’ journeys are their stories, NOT funnels. They could tell you the stories, just try asking them. And those stories don’t always have happy endings.

Your customers’ stories end happily when they are delighted. And for them that may mean buying from you or from a competitor. It’s simply a matter of perspective.

Now you come along and interrogate your analytics to find out what your customers did.

Is this process so very different from what you do?

The most successful companies start with the story from the customer’s perspective. Their business people make that story accountable through analytics. They anticipate what needs to be measured in order for the analysts to understand the actual customers’ experience – did their stories end happily? These stories are then shared with the business people and they learn what needs to be optimized.

Here’s what we know for certain: if analysts cannot tell the stories and business people cannot measure the stories then the strategy isn’t truly aligned with customers’ needs.

It’s time to perfect your concept of a funnel.

Buyer Legends can help you create customer-centered, data-driven customer experience design that is supported by narrative.

 

H/T to Tom Fishburne for inspiring this post with his marketing funnel

 

 

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Business Storytelling: 3 Ways To Have A Happy Ending

Santa Claus will not be bringing any presents to your home. Not that you were naughty, don’t worry we won’t tell on you.
Please don’t be sad, it doesn’t mean you won’t have presents or a story with a happy ending. It will just require a bit more effort to make your holiday magical.
Maybe you already knew that about Santa Claus, but have you heard the story about storytelling and business?

There’s a story currently being told to business people where storytelling is the hero, the dragon slayer. It’s a sappy little story with a cliched happy ending. You know it, after slaying the dragon the business lives happily ever. Lots of stories end that way.

 Just like Santa Claus won’t make your holiday magical storytelling alone will not guarantee your success.

Storytelling is the most powerful communications tool ever and it’s worth mastering.

There are three ways to leverage storytelling to create a happy ending for your business:

 

ONE: Tell  stories to make emotional connections with customers

This is what most marketers think of when they think about storytelling.  Of course we suggest you always make the customer the hero of your story, pay attention to Michael Hinshaw over at CMO.com who tells us that customer experience is emotional.  In a post over at Medium.com  Jamie Carracher offers a nice primer on how to make your storytelling efforts accountable.

TWO: Tell stories to rally the troops.

All great leaders are great communicators, and great leaders understand how to use the power of a  story to motivate, encourage, teach, and inspire their team.  Carol Goman at Forbes does a good job explaining why leaders should leverage the power of story.

THREE: Tell Buyer Legend stories to delight customers and convert more sales

Once a leader inspires her team, and a marketer makes an emotional connection with customers can they deliver on the promises made? Buyer Legends are a brand new type of story, told from the perspective of customers, that help companies become customer focused, data-driven and managed by a common narrative to deliver on those promises made to customers.  Businesses use them to improve the entire experience from attraction to conversion funnels, sales funnels, and to delight the customer when they interact with the brand.  A decent Buyer Legend story documents what that experience is currently. A great Buyer Legend story tells you exactly to optimize that experience.  Buyer Legends are created in story form in order to bridge the empathy gap between company and customer; what Bain & Co calls the Delivery Gap. Tell a great Buyer Legend and a team will know how to design, execute, and test new and improved customer experiences.

We wish your business a happy ending and encourage you to use storytelling.

Happy holidays!

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Can Marketers Keep Their Promises To Customers?

brand_storyIf I promised to give you $10,000 as a gift and then only gave you $5,000 you’d be disappointed. Don’t bother to deny it. Once an expectation has been set anything that falls short of that expectation is disappointing.

Good marketers are paid to attract prospective customers. When attracting those prospective customers, promises are made both implicitly and explicitly. The stories marketers tell prospective customers set their expectations.

And great marketers tell great stories.

There is so much excellent content about storytelling, it’s no wonder that marketers are now telling better stories.

Since you’ll ask, here are two examples:

No doubt, marketers are telling better stories.

But will businesses keep the promises marketers are making?

The facts suggest that most businesses don’t deliver great customer experiences. That unintentionally turns great marketers into liars.

Virtually all of the senior marketers I know are uncomfortable with this situation. Of course, many of them are not in charge of the entire experience but all of them have influence over the customer experience. At the very least they are responsible for the portion of the customer journey that they control.

Flipping the perspective helps marketing strategy become more integral to the business strategy.

So what happens when a marketer takes the perspective of the customer and describes the actual customer journey as a story the entire team can share? I cannot predict how it will work at every company but I do have years of experience watching marketers do just that with Buyer Legends.

I’ve seen three outcomes from writing the customer journey narrative:

  1. Expected CaseThe narrative starts to influence the details marketers can control and optimize. Subsequently, the results gain attention for the technique and it begins to influence other areas of the company.
  2. Best Case – The effort originates in the C-Suite or, as part of the expected case, the narrative makes it way into strategic planning and permeates how the business thinks about customers and their experience.
  3. Worst Case – The marketer realizes that the gap between the brand promise and what the business delivers is too wide and looks for another job where she can maintain her integrity.

In every case it’s a thoroughly worthwhile investment of just a few hours. That is why we wrote Buyer Legends, so that any marketer can get started with storytelling in under two hours. Yes – two hours – which includes reading the book.

Would a Buyer Legend help your company sell more and delight more customers?

You won’t know unless you try.

Please keep in mind that Buyer Legends are not the stories your business tells your customers; that’s promotion. Buyer Legends are stories told from the point of view of your customers; because your brand isn’t what you say it is but what your customers say it is. Buyer Legends are designed to create and improve the interactions your customers have with every touchpoint of your brand.

Try it out, because a great brand today is customer-centric, data-driven and managed by narrative.

 

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Become Your Customer’s Fairy Godmother

JeffSextonFairyGodMother

Can you believe I had this picture taken?

When most people talk about Storytelling in business, they usually mean telling the businesses story.

And while your business undoubtedly has a story and should tell it, that’s not the story you need to focus on in order to improve sales, optimization efforts, or your content marketing strategies.

The story you need to focus on is the customer’s

And the thing about the customers story is this: you’re not the hero of it.

The customer is the hero of the customer’s story. Unsurprisingly.

But not only are you not the hero (or heroine) of the customer’s story, you’re also not Prince Charming, either.

Why?

Because as a service provider or product, you’re simply not at the center of anyone’s life. That center-of-my-life role is reserved for spouses and kids and family. Not for commercials, products, or services.

So if you’re not the heroine nor prince charming, what role do you play?

Ideally, you’re the Fairy Godmother.

Again, you’re not the hero and you’re not at the center of people’s lives. In fact, most people aren’t interested in you at all until they need you to save the day. And then you’re really, really important. For like five minutes.

But if you do your job right, you can bippity boppety boo your way into saving the day and winning the customers business, loyalty, and recommendations.

You help the customer be the hero and fulfill her purpose / destiny / task for the moment.  That’s your role.

But you can’t play that role properly until you understand the customer’s story. You need to know where she runs into life’s snafus. And what she needs during her moments of distress. What her real motivations are. And how she’s making decisions during the moment when you’re cue is called to enter stage left.

If you don’t know these things, you can:

  • Miss the magic moment
  • Arrive with the wrong solution
  • Arrive with the right solution but be unable to explain WHY it’s right
  • Watch as your Cinderella gets help from the wrong godmother!
  • And generally lose or blow the sale

So while Buyer Legends is a powerful storytelling tool for business. It’s not really about your story. It’s about the customer’s story and how that customer experiences your company and brand during that story.

Because your real story isn’t the one you tell. It’s the one your customer tells about you — to herself and her friends.

And she won’t get YOUR story right, until you get hers right first.

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Great UI Still Risks Poor Customer Experience

It is encouraging when brilliant people develop processes to improve customer interactions. UI designer Luca Leone recently wrote an excellent article about how he develops user interfaces. It’s a must read and what we have to add shouldn’t detract from it.
The Buyer Legends process uses customer data and storytelling so that business can empathize with their customers’ experience at every step of the buying journey. We’re fans of any interaction design that starts with a story. However, we’re not sure that an improved UI addresses all customer experiences issues that come before, during, and after the interaction. Unfortunately, in the real world, hardly anyone is handing a UI designer a well-crafted Buyer Legend to place the UI properly in the context of the customer experience.

Luca Leone on Starting UI Design with Story

Leone writes in Smashing Magazine about the process he uses, specifically how before he even begins to sketch an interface he writes out a conversation between human and computer to get a feel for the interaction.

I realized that imagining the conversation was much easier than drawing on a white canvas. I’m not sure, but I suppose that is true for most people. Conversation is an intrinsic part of human nature. We have evolved as a talking species.

Also, when I imagine a conversation, I draw from my real life experience, which is good for design — less abstraction. If a user’s interaction with a computer resembled a real life experience, then the interface would probably be considered easy to use, wouldn’t it?

It would, or rather, it could. Any UI designer who follows this process is bound to create better interactions.

Starting with a written conversation to help plan UI is simply another form of storytelling. And storytelling is the most powerful way  to transfer an experience to someone who hasn’t had that experience. Leone has taken this bull by the horns. However, the utilization of a storytelling process alone does not guarantee success or even prevent possible failure in the overall customer experience. Here is why, and what you can do about it.

Great UI Does Not Equal Great Customer Experience

First, the UI designer runs the risk of having a conversation only with themselves and basing the interaction on their own preferences and ideas of what is easy and pleasurable to use. What about the needs of different types of users? It is likely that the UI designer is representative of one type of user, his or herself.  Using well-researched and properly empathetic personas in conjunction with storytelling allows the designer to account for different types of people with different needs, context, and expectations.

Second, storytelling alone doesn’t guarantee the interaction being designed is itself valuable to the overall customer experience or that it even serves the business goals of the company.  This is an especially touchy point when providing requirement documentation to UI designers.  When stories incorporate the company’s goals in terms of how the customer wants to take the action to achieves those goals, you move from company-centric to customer-centric. Planning with stories that present the customer experience more holistically ensures that each interaction designed serves both the customer and company. Customers are volunteers and as long as they feel that they are achieving their goals they will happily help the company achieve its goals.

Third, and most importantly, Leone’s process doesn’t account for opportunities that might be missed because the UI designer may be unaware of the overall context of the customer experience and why the customer is using this interface in the first place. By telling a story of the entire customer journey to your UI designer, they can look for additional opportunities to move a user towards their goal faster, or find opportunities to up-sell, cross-sell, or encourage other profitable actions the user can take, like social media sharing.

Lastly, it doesn’t seem to account for existing customer data, assuming customer data is available. Just writing out a story (or an interaction) doesn’t mean that story reflects actions that are already happening in the real world. By combining data and storytelling, you eliminate the possibility that your story contains only someone’s best guess (which may be fiction) and instead grounds your stories in reality. In addition, a proper Buyer Legend establishes data points for the story’s hypothesis that you can measure and optimize against.

Add Two Steps Forward and a Look Backwards

There are two other techniques we use in Buyer Legends that would make Leone’s process even more effective.

The first is writing a pre-mortem.  In our book, Buyer Legends: The Executive Storyteller’s Guide, we write about the customer completing the sale, but if you are a UI designer, you might want to read what we write below by simply replacing ‘sale’  with ‘completed task’.

…begin making a pre-mortem list, detailing the most likely things that could derail this customer’s successful journey to your desired destination:

A. 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?”

i. Your intuitions about the most likely bad outcomes and most likely causes will be more insightful than you may think.

ii. 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.

B. 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?

Next we would recommend creating a reverse chronological outline.

Outline the story using reverse chronology; start from the end of the story and work backwards. This reverse chronology process will:

A. Ensure your legend ends in success.

B. Emphasize cause-and-effect more effectively than forward chronology, as it will be harder to “fake” or rely upon momentum. Simply by thinking backwards you will naturally be more thorough in defining the actions and reasoning why your customer has taken each step on their journey.

Buyer Legends Are What to do Before UI Design

When we need a UI Designer, Leone would be among to be the first people we would reach out to. Nevertheless, before we send him off to write out a conversation and design for us a brilliant interaction, we would equip him with a Buyer Legend. In the Buyer Legend, he would read the story (or stories) of the persona(s) and why they are interacting with us in the first place, and why it matters to both the customer and the company. The Buyer Legend would tell about their goals, motivations, needs, preferences, tech savviness, and previous experience.  And all of it would be based on real-world customer data. After reading it, Leone would understand how his UI design fits into the bigger picture of the customer experience. He would be empowered to find new and better ways to enhance or improve it, instead of just following rigid product requirements or straightforward use cases. In other words, it would unleash and focus Leone’s creativity in the most profitable context.

If you have a business that needs UI Design, you need Buyer Legends to better communicate with and leverage the skills of your talented designer. If you are a talented designer, you can ask customers for Buyer Legends to bring added value to your clients and garner stronger buy-in for your design work.

The use of storytelling in UI design and in business is powerful, but so is nitroglycerin. You must know how to contain it, control it, and ensure its power does exactly what you need it to do.

Oh, and please do read Leone’s article in total. Wicked good stuff.

 

 

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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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3 Things Marketers Must Do to Complete their 2015 Plans

 

2015 looms large on the horizon.  For marketers, a new year means new opportunities, planning, strategizing, and a general lining of ducks in rows.  And now with so many channels for marketers to manage and the increasingly empowered customer, the landscape screams of complexity.

Earlier this year the CMO Club Summit in New York shared what marketing executives said are their biggest marketing challenges, here are a few.

  1. Delivering a positive customer experience throughout the research, discovery, and purchase journey.

  2. Creating client or customer-centric content

  3. Keeping content flow constant

  4. Measuring the effectiveness of content

  5. Managing data and identifying how to leverage it effectively

  6. Maximizing omni-channel marketing with limited talent and training resources

  7. Reinvigorating an already well-known brand

How to Overcome Modern Marketing Challenges and Become a Rock Star

Entire books can be written about each and every one of these challenges.  A career can be built on getting one of those things handled, and finding a way to make decent headway addressing all or a handful of these challenges might just make you some sort of marketing deity.  It can be done.  But how?

When you examine these challenges you see that at the heart of all of them is customer experience.  Marketing disciplines such as content marketing, CX, UX, UI, SEO, PPC, digital marketing, traditional marketing, analytics, conversion optimization, etc are all just tools that are used to build one thing;  a customer experience.  The wise marketer knows that everything they do is about optimizing the customer experience. Also, when approached from this angle the challenge seems more manageable.  The next questions are how should the marketer leverage these tools to optimize the customer experience and realize better marketing performance.  The answer is simple.

Be customer-centric, data-driven, and manage by narrative.

  • By always being customer-centric the marketer never loses focus on the customer’s preferences, needs, desires, and motivations.

  • By being data-driven the customer is truly given the final vote. Great data analysis allows marketers to predict, model, and test new customer experiences.

  • By using the power of narrative (storytelling) marketers can manage internal and external teams (and their seemingly disparate disciplines) by effectively communicating the essence of customer experiences so that they are executed more efficiently and accurately.

I said the answer was simple, but not always easy.

The Buyer Legends Process Addresses Each Challenge Head On

After years of learning to master most of these marketing disciplines, working with some of the most experienced and talented marketers on the planet, experimenting, failing, and succeeding.  Some companies saw significant improvements but weren’t able to duplicate that success repeatedly.  But the companies that embraced a process of customer centricity, data-analysis, and usage of narrative to manage execution were able repeat their success in multiple channels.  They were rock stars at execution , and continuously make significant and meaningful long term impact on marketing goals. We call this process Buyer Legends.

Let’s see how Buyer Legends can impact each of the above stated challenges.

  1. Delivering a positive customer experience throughout the research, discovery, and purchase journey. By using storytelling(narrative) combined with customer data Buyer Legends allows marketers to map out in detail each phase of the customer experience from research to post-sale.

  2. Creating client or customer-centric content. Because Buyer Legends is a customer-centric/persona-based process it keeps content focused on the customer and what they need in order to convert.

  3. Keeping content flow constant.  Buyer Legends stimulate creativity that is first and foremost focused on the needs and preferences of the customer.

  4. Measuring the effectiveness of content.  Buyer Legends are measurable and tied to data and business goals.

  5. Managing data and identifying how to leverage it effectively.  The Buyer Legend process helps to interpret and communicate data in story form making data understandable and actionable.

  6. Maximizing omni-channel marketing with limited talent and training resources.  Buyer Legends allow marketers to communicate to internal and external teams the context and goals of creative and marketing/sales collateral, making for better and faster execution, even when working with less talented team members.

  7. Reinvigorating an already well-known brand.  By giving the marketer a deeper understanding of the customer and their journey Buyer Legends will allow you to build the ideal customer experience rather than simply patching a less than ideal experience.

In 2015 your customers will be more empowered than ever, by making a commitment to build a better customer experience you can put all the complexities and challenges of the modern day marketer into proper perspective and plan for a kick booty year.  Good luck!


Interested in knowing more about the Buyer Legends process?

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Customers Don’t Care Where You Sit

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Customers arrive at your business with a bigger picture than view we have from the seat at our desk.

They don’t always want us to “solve” their problem or save them money; although these may be their stated goals. Truly, not every problem is in search of a solution and cheap certainly doesn’t guarantee success.

From where we sit, inside a business,  it looks different. Yet, when we are customers we know that the intrinsic value of a brand interaction is the delight we feel from the interaction, and not merely satisfaction. Delight is defined as extreme satisfaction, it thrills us.

So the view from our desk or conference room isn’t the customer’s perspective! The customer doesn’t care what department we’re in, what channel we’re responsible for or even sadly how hard we try.

Customers simply don’t care where you sit! They only care about their experience with your brand.

Maybe your company’s perspective is different.

The Delivery Gap

Please consider the following:

When Bain & Company  surveyed 362 firms, they found that 80% believe they deliver a “superior experience” to customers. But when they asked customers, they say only 8% are really delivering.

This “delivery gap” doesn’t exist because businesses fail to recognize the importance of their customers. More than 95% of surveyed management teams say they’re customer focused.

Bain found two reasons for the gap.

  1. Paradoxically, many growth strategies damage customer loyalty. For example, efforts to pursue new customers can distract from serving the core.

  2. Building relationships with customers is difficult. Understanding what customers really want and keeping our promises while maintaining a dialogue to evolve with customers’ changing needs is challenging.

Bain says the 8% do something differently:

We call them the “Three D’s”: They design the right propositions for the right customers. They deliver those propositions at the lowest system cost. And they develop the institutional capabilities to do it again and again. Each of these Three D’s reinforces the others. Together, they ensure the company is continually led by the voices of its customers.

What We Have Here Is a Failure To Communicate

Buyer Legends Can Help Close The Delivery Gap

We’ve developed a simple-to-learn business process that can help you see your customer’s perspective from where you sit; we call it Buyer Legends.

Buyer Legends are not the stories you tell your customers; that’s just promotion. Buyer Legends are stories told from the point of view of your customers; because your brand isn’t what you say it is but what your customers say about it. Buyer Legends are designed to create and improve the interactions customers have with your brand; and that’s the rest of the marketing mix.

Buyer Legends combine the emotional power of storytelling with hard data to open new opportunities, spot gaps and optimize your sales and marketing.  You can use them to communicate your brand’s intent and describe the responsibility of each critical touchpoint within every level of an organization — from the boardroom to the stockroom.

Many have found (in the month since publication there over 60 reviews on Amazon and we’ve linked to many others from this blog)  and we hope that you too will find that Buyer Legends improve execution, communications, testing, and provide a big boost to the bottom line.

Please feel free to get “Buyer Legends: The Executive Storyteller’s Guide”, it should take less than an hour to read, 90 minutes to implement and then you’ll be able start closing the delivery gap immediately.

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What we can offer you

Speak at Your Event

We can speak at your event. Our fees are $20,000 in North America, and that includes travel. International fees are $20,000 plus business class travel, from Austin, and lodging. Contact us to discuss your event  

Workshops

We kick-off the workshop with a two-day onsite visit. We help you create the Four Pillar foundation for your organization. The entire process takes between 4-8 weeks and the typical investment is $30,000 – $100,000.

Four Pillars Ongoing Support

After our workshops, we work with only a few select clients. Your business must be committed to the Four Pillars (as described in Be Like Amazon) on a long-term basis .