Who Are the Storytellers Behind Buyer Legends: the Executive Storyteller’s Guide?

This is the first in a series of interviews with marketing executives who have read the book and are putting the ideas to work for their businesses.

Today, we chat with Melissa Burdon, Director of Marketing Optimization for Extra Space Storage (NYSE: EXR) and winner of the Direct Marketing Network 2014 40 Under 40 Award.

Good day, Melissa. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. First of all, can you tell us a bit about what you do as Director of Marketing Optimization at Extra Space Storage?
I’m responsible for reaching established goals within a testing-centric culture for the customer acquisition process across all platforms and channels including desktop website, mobile website, email, click-to-chat, call center sales, and various social media and customer-facing apps.

What are your short-term marketing goals?
Our primary goal at Extra Space Storage is to increase rentals of storage units. We drive reservations of storage units through the web and call center and then follow up with these reservations via phone, email, and SMS to improve move-in rates.

In 2014, we’ve focused more heavily on optimizing the buying experience through the entire customer-buying funnel based on who the customer is and what they are looking to accomplish. Data has given us some tremendous insights into who our customers are and how to give them the experience that effectively drives them to converting. But we know there is so much more to learn about our customers and so much more we could be doing to create a better buying experience for them.

What did you think of the ideas presented in Buyer Legends: The Executive Storyteller’s Guide?
The ebook was very enlightening. It’s based on a simple concept. We really just need to put ourselves in the shoes of our visitors and actually walk through the buying experience they go through in order to identify the holes and opportunities that exist. The difficulty has always been how to come up with a process to achieve this. The Buyer Legends ebook is this missing piece. It outlines the steps you need to take to effectively put yourself in the shoes of the potential customer and actually walk through their buying experience to look at your marketing efforts through their lens. Once you’re able to identify the opportunities that exist, then you can take these pieces and begin optimizing the experience.

Do you plan to use the process at Extra Space Storage?

We’re applying the process to four projects at this point within the marketing department. We’re applying Buyer Legends for a social branding video, a few on-site content pages, one of our main buying funnel pages, and an acquisition email campaign.

How do you believe the Buyer Legends process will help you reach your goals?
We know the Buyer Legends process will help our department approach our optimization efforts based on what matters to our customers, first and foremost, rather than what matters to our sales process. The Buyer Legends approach allows our employees to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and see the experience from their perspective. This will help us achieve a higher number of rentals at the end of the day because we’ll be answering the questions our customers have at the most critical points of their buying process.

Have you shared it with your team/staff?  What was their reaction?
I shared what I learned with our CMO and he completely sees the vision and even thinks that once we prove this out in Marketing, that this is something we need to train other departments on because this affects Operations, Learning and Development, as well as many other departments.

Once I got the thumbs up from our CMO, I put together a small group of 4 employees; our Email Manager, the Brand Manager, the Content and Social Manager, as well as our Optimization Manager and did a half-day Buyer Legends training for them. They were all expected to take on their assigned project and use the Buyer Legends approach to create or improve the campaign.

Do you see things any differently after reading the book?
I always knew it was important to see things from our customers’ perspective and focus on them rather than our sales process but it has always been difficult to actually approach making changes to specific campaigns based on what we know about our customers. The Buyer Legends ebook gives you a step by step guide on how to achieve this.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to improve their results through every channel the customer is exposed to.

Thanks, Melissa! 

As more readers share their success stories with us, we’ll tell you about them here.  Have a story you would like to tell, contact us.  To get started creating your own Buyer Legends, grab a copy of of the book Buyer Legends – The Executive Storytellers Guide.