Buyer Legends are measurable and accountable by design. That is one of the important elements that distinguish Buyer Legends from any other business-storytelling and customer experience methodologies. A Buyer Legend is not a feel good story; it’s about business, and if your story doesn’t improve on your business goals, then what is the point?
Your Buyer Legend should describe in significant detail what actions you expect your customer to take, many of which are measurable. Pages viewed, transactions, subscriptions, store visits, phone calls, conversions to lead, and even social media engagement are all measurable.
Not All Customer Actions Are Created Equal
But they can all be useful to your optimization. In 2011, Bryan Eisenberg wrote:
If you are in retail, you want them to purchase a product.
If you are in lead generation, you want them to become a lead.
Are there no other actions that are valuable and contribute to the bottom line?
In retail, even if they don’t convert now, would it at least be more valuable to know if they added an item to their wish list, or subscribed to your newsletter, or looked up your retail store hours, or added items to their cart versus just bouncing off the site right away? What are you doing to turn that one-time customer into a repeat customer? Do they only need one product you sell or might they need different ones over the course of time?
In lead generation, if they don’t give you all their information and request to be contacted by sales, is it valuable to have them sign up for a whitepaper, or a demo, or your newsletter? Is it better to download specification sheets, engage in calculators, or print/forward pages rather than just bouncing off the website? These are all steps that move people through their buying process.
These are just some of your macro actions. What happens when someone comes from one of your ads and gets to a landing page? Sometimes the action is one of those listed above, but what if that page is only meant to help your visitors to choose the right product or service and they still need to actually click on the right one for them? What do you do to help them take that action and not bounce away? These are the micro actions that need to happen from step to step in the potential customer’s journey.
All of these are actions we need to optimize. You can calculate a conversion rate for each one of these macro and micro actions, and you should.
I wrote in a recent Buyer Legend Recipe Series post about persuasive momentum that whether or not you are aware, your business has created a de facto persuasive system. Buyer Legends is a process for creating a persuasive system that is intentional, measurable, and optimizable. That is why it is important for you to track both the micro and macro actions so that you are not just optimizing the final conversion, but all the steps in between where you can spot breakdowns in the system and fix them. Buyer Legends, done right, allow you to measure and optimize persuasive momentum.
While it is much easier to track and analyze online behavior, technology is making it possible to track and analyze in-store traffic as well as in-store behavior.
Mobile is growing so fast that many companies are seeing more traffic from tablets and smartphones than from desktops and laptops, and this trend is only growing. Google recently announced in that mobile near-me searches are up 3400% in the last three years.
A Legend for Your Customer’s Buying Journey
Your Buyer Legend is a map of your customer’s journey, and to read the map properly you need to have a legend. Here is the legend for your Buyer Legend from our book, Buyer Legends: The Executive Storyteller’s Guide:
Your hero is on a journey. You tell his or her story. Every successful customer journey needs a map and every map needs a legend. The journey’s legend is the key to navigating the map. See below the components of a legend.
Hero – This is the protagonist of your legend. All legends are told from the point of view of the hero.
Catalyst – This is the point at which the customer first identifies your company, product and/or service as a potential solution. It can be word-of-mouth, on- or off-line advertising, or PR. A catalyst can be a measurable step in the customer’s path, but often cannot be attributed to just one thing.
First Measurable Step – Here is where your customer enters the measurable portion of the journey. It can be finding a landing page, home page, chat session, phone call, or brick and mortar visit.
Road signs – Some points in the customer’s path that are critical to their completion of the journey. Road signs include information that, if not available, will most likely prevent the customer from completing the journey and/or keep the marketer from persuading the customer to make a decision necessary to continue the journey.
Detours – These are pathways that marketers must construct as solutions to forks in the road. Customers don’t always go straight down a smooth sales path. They often go off the path in search of answers to concerns, alternative solutions, or just plain curiosity. When this happens, the potential exists for that customer to never arrive at the desired destination. They took that “left turn at Albuquerque” and never got where they wanted to be. Detours meet the customer along those wrong turns/paths and guide them back onto the proper path so they can continue the journey to their destination.
Measurable step – Any step along the way that can be measured. Typically, this involves analytics, but it is any step a customer can take that leaves behind evidence of that step. Measurable steps give insight as to where customers are in their journey and how they can be optimized.
Fork in the road – These are decision points in the persona’s path where a specific need or curiosity can take them off the ideal path in search of answers to a specific need, curiosity, question, or concern. Because the marketer should never force a customer down a path, awareness of where a customer could go “off-track” becomes crucial, so that the marketer can plan for these forks in the road and construct detours that will take them from an undesirable direction back onto the desired path.
Destination – This is the final measurable step where the customer converts into a lead/sale, completes an order, a form, or a task.
In the three examples that you’ll find at the end of this post, you’ll notice the legends are in parentheses.
Understanding the Value of Quantitative vs. Qualitative
We recently worked with a large data-driven technology company that had no shortage of quantitative data. In fact, they sent us gigabytes of it. We noticed that for every ten quantitative reports there was only one qualitative report. It was obvious to our team that their bias for hard data left them with a huge blind-spot. Quantitative data tell you WHAT your customers are doing, and qualitative data can provide insight into WHY your customers are doing what they do. They pointed out a problematic metric to us and asked us our opinion. A significant portion of new customers were using their software service once maybe twice and then falling out. We began a simple qualitative research exercise, we visited their sales call center and listened in on a several dozen calls. Soon the quantitative data began to make sense. We found that this company had such a strong brand that most people simply trusted the brand, so they signed up only to find that after using the software it wasn’t exactly the experience they expected. We couldn’t fix the software, so we solved the problem by helping them provide customers with the correct expectations in advance.
As human beings, our actions can be measured. This creates quantitative data. But the thoughts, emotions, and decision-making styles we use are subjective. They do have some degree of predictability, and this is qualitative. A business needs both types of research to see the whole picture. So, do not discount the value of focus groups, surveys, customer interviews, and even customer comments and reviews as you begin to craft your Buyer Legend.
Amazon is a great example of a company that uses both qualitative and quantitative. Never accused of being a warm and fuzzy guy, Jeff Bezos set Amazon on a course to be “the most customer-centric company on earth”. That involves not just knowing what customers are doing, but trying to understand why. Bryan Eisenberg wrote about Amazon’s Performance Secrets:
When Bezos decided to launch Amazon.com in 1994, he realized that the unique advantage of the Internet was the ability to programmatically learn more and more about your customer and personalize their experience. He realized that they could leverage every bit of data correlated with their customers’ personal unique identifiers (their email addresses) from each and every interaction. Amazon could learn from every sale, but also from every click, review, and mouse movement.
I suggest you read the entire article.
Thank you for reading this last post recipe series. Our goal was to supply you with more in-depth information that you can lean on as you proceed with implementing Buyer Legends. If you have questions that arise as you work on your Buyer Legends, please send them our way and we’ll try to answer them.
P.S. This is the sixth and last in a series of six Buyer Legends Recipe posts, please sign up to our newsletter for updates.
Three Examples of How To Measure Buyer Legends
Example #1 – an e-commerce Buyer Legend:
Marcy (hero) is frustrated that her microwave has broken (catalyst), so she moved it up on her to-do list to research and order a replacement today. She visits a handful of consumer sites, reads reviews, chooses the features she wants, lists a few possible models, and then measures the space in her kitchen to ensure that she doesn’t order a microwave that is too big or small. With measurements in hand, she is able to knock a handful of models off her list, leaving her with three choices. She goes to BestBuy.com, Sears.com, and Amazon.com to see more pictures, read more reviews, and compare prices. She notices that Best Buy has a price match guarantee but she will have to jump through too many hoops. Marcy is resourceful and frugal, and believes she can find the absolute lowest price for the microwave she wants. She does several Google searches, and visits a few sites but she is not impressed. The sites look unprofessional and the prices are all about the same.
Then, Marcy stumbles upon a website for Bob’s Appliance Outlet (measurable step). A large banner on the homepage announces to Marcy that most items qualify for free shipping (road sign), but even more impressive is a smaller banner in the top right corner of the page that says, “Want the lowest possible price? Make a price offer on any item in our store, and we will do our best to match it” (road sign). Marcy clicks on it (fork in the road), reads the next page and finds that the price offer feature is simple and straightforward with no fine print. She still wants to learn about a bit more about the company and goes to the About Us page (detour). After she reads this page she feels confident that 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 (measurable step). She reads through the product description and reviews for due diligence. She is pleased that her microwave qualifies for free shipping. Elated at the possibility of saving more than she expected, she enters an offer $100 dollars under the lowest price she found elsewhere and hits the Buy button (measurable step). A page comes back and tells her that her offer was too low but encourages her to try again. She didn’t really think they would accept another offer, but felt it was worth a try. She enters a price that is $50 under her previously lowest price, and this time the offer is accepted (destination). Marcy is presented with a page that congratulates her and tells her that her item will likely ship today and asks her how she would like to be notified about shipping. She chooses text message over email or automated phone call. Marcy goes to the kitchen satisfied, and pours herself a cup of tea, She crosses Find New Microwave off her to-do list, and begins the next item on the list.
Example #2 B2B lead generation Buyer Legend:
Mark (hero) is a savvy entrepreneur who is looking to expand by opening up a 4th location in the greater Phoenix area (catalyst). Mark used some pricey consultants in the past with mixed results. Someone told him about Idealspot.com so he went to the homepage (first measurable step), and when he saw the word algorithm, he immediately lost confidence. Mark simply believed that an automated computer process could not possibly find him a great location, so he leaves and forgets about Idealspot.com (detour).
A week later Mark is on LinkedIn and sees a ‘re-targeted’ ad with the headline, “How Science and Big Data Are Changing the Way Businesses Choose New Locations”. Not recognizing this as a post from the Idealspot.com blog, he is intrigued and clicks through (measurable step). 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 in spending 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 those patterns of success or failure and the key factors driving those patterns. The algorithms act without human bias; they start from scratch and come up with a model that is unique for each business based purely on results. Mark is starting to understand the value of Idealspot.com; he had assumed that human involvement was superior, but now he began to doubt that premise. Mark clicks through to the Idealspot.com How Does it Work page (measurable step).
Mark reads about the algorithm and how the data is loaded for each location, and how the success-prediction clientele 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. Mark starts to feel excited.
Mark wants to get a sense of the Idealspot.com track record, so he clicks on the Success Stories page (fork in the road) and reads a handful of stories by clients who are experiencing early success. He sees that Idealspot.com is a startup and their term track record is not as long or established as it could be, but the low introductory price of $297 removes this barrier from his mind.
Mark wants to try Idealspot.com. Still believing the pricing is too good to be true, Mark reads a section on the Pricing page (detour) that explains how big data and learning algorithms dramatically reduce the cost of research allowing IdealSpot to offer high-value analyses and rock bottom prices (road sign).
He clicks the Get Started button (measurable step). It explains the cost of each report, and that he is setting up an account that will allow him to enter potential locations and request as many or as few reports as needed. He does not need a credit card right now.
Marks appreciates that his privacy will be protected.
Mark fills out a form requesting his name, email and password, and then clicks Join and creates an Idealspot.com account (destination). He is excited to start scouting locations and using Idealspot.com for feedback.
Example #3 B2C multi-channel Buyer Legend:
When Debbie (hero) turned 12, her Aunt Rebecca bought her a charm bracelet with a collection of charms. Debbie loved it, and 29 years later she still wears it. And now her 11 year old daughter Ashley is coming up on a birthday. Ashley loves her mom’s charm bracelet, and is always looking through the charms and asking questions. She even asked to borrow it for a night out with a friend. Debbie of course wants to surprise her daughter on her birthday with an impressive bracelet and nice collection of charms to get started (catalyst).
While out and about running errands she takes a moment to search Google on her Android phone for “Charm Bracelets nearby”. Of course, she sees Pandora at the mall but thinks they are overpriced. She also finds a Charm Boutique and decides to drop by to see what they have. As she walks in (first measurable step) she is is greeting warmly and encouraged to take her time look around and then just ask if she needs help.
Debbie is impressed with the store; their oversized charms hang in the windows and from the ceiling. It is a fun atmosphere, where she can imagine returning with her daughter and buying new charms in the future. As Debbie scans the merchandise under the glass she sees several bracelets, none of which she think would match her daughter’s taste. She asks if they have any more styles and the saleswoman takes her to a computer and shows her several more designs that are available online or by special order (road sign). She zeroes in on a style and asks about it. The sales woman tells her that it is on back order and it may take several weeks to Special Order, but that it may be available online. Debbie asks her to please write the model and style number down for her and then turns her eyes to the charms. They have an impressive collection but she can’t find a couple of essential charms she would need. Ashley and she share a love of folk music and spend a few evenings a month playing guitar and singing, so a guitar charm is a must. Ashley also loves and collects zebras but the store has none of those, either. While there, she picks up a handful of charms that Ashley would love (measurable step) and heads home (detour).
That night after Ashley falls asleep Debbie goes online to visit the Charm Boutique website (measurable step) and quickly gets lost in the selection. She finds the bracelet she liked at the store as well as a guitar charm, a zebra charm, and about a dozen others that she adds to her cart, satisfied she has found the perfect Birthday gift for Ashley. She hits the checkout button and sees the total. It’s a little more than she wanted to spend. So Debbie visits the Pandora website to compare charms and pricing (detour). She finds that many of the charms she wants are there, but not all, and the bracelet choices are not that great. Even more so when she places them in her cart and hits checkout. The price is much more than that of Charm Boutique. So, she goes back to the Charm Boutique site, and finds something she missed before. She sees that her order qualifies for free priority mail shipping and she could have it in a week, giving her plenty of breathing room before Ashley’s birthday. She finishes checking out and is tickled that this worked out so well. She can’t wait to see the look on her daughter’s face when she opens this present.
P.S. This is the sixth and last in a series of six Buyer Legends Recipe posts, please sign up to our newsletter for updates.
As always, we encourage you to try Buyer Legends for yourself, but if you need help, please let us know.
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.
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:
- Select your perspective ~ 15 minutes
- Pre-Mortem list ~ 10 minutes
- Reverse chronology outline ~ 15 minutes
- Legend draft ~ 50 minutes
Here is the process for writing your Buyer Legend from our book.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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.
P.S. This is the fifth in a series of Buyer Legends Recipe Posts , please sign up to our newsletter for updates.
If 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.
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...
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
It’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.
Marketers are busy getting their plans together for 2015. If the study, that came out of the CMO Club Summit in New York last March, is any indication of what marketers are considering as challenges to their business campaigns, then they need to add a new strategy document to their 2015 planning.
A few of the key challenges they listed were:
- Delivering a positive customer experience throughout the research, discovery, and purchase journey.
- Creating client or customer-centric content
- Keeping content flow constant
- Measuring the effectiveness of content
- Managing data and identifying how to leverage it effectively
- Maximizing omni-channel marketing with limited talent and training resources
- Reinvigorated an already well-known brand
“NatureBox delivers a world of carefully sourced and nutritionist-approved foods right to your door. Each snack contains wholesome ingredients – with no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors. Snacking has never been so deliciously fun and naturally easy.”
For a monthly subscription fee of $19.95 on up to $49.95 NatureBox will send you a selection of healthy snacks for you or your whole family. I just joined at the $29.99 level, but I almost didn’t.
Recently I was going through my email subscriptions when in a Daily Digg email I read a headline that caught my attention.
“How to Snack without Eating Crap”
I quickly clicked the link and landed on this page
Now I am fascinated, but on this entire page the only option I have is the “Start Now” button. When I click on that, I am taken to this page.
My obvious first question is “OK, but what snacks will you send? Can I select the snacks?”. I’m about ready to bail out, but still intrigued I click on “select this box” because it is the only choice I have. My thought is that I might find those answers in the next step.
This next page is even worse. It clearly is the checkout process. Pigs might go airborne before I complete a checkout process without knowing exactly what I am purchasing, and I am surely speaking for most mentally stable adults as well.
Now I can go on and on about how horrible this conversion funnel is, and I can nit pick several tactical things wrong with these pages, but instead I will point out this ‘landing page experience’ follows several commonly used marketing techniques. It attempts to ‘squeeze’ out a conversion, by locking me into a single landing page and forcing me through a checkout. This is not uncommon, and in some cases might be the most effective practice. In fact, it might have even worked here had these marketers understood one thing, the context of a health conscious customer.
So let me whip up a quick Buyer Legend (buyer narrative) based on myself.
Over the past few years Anthony has tackled some severe health issues, and recently has become much more aggressive about his health. He has adopted a rigorous workout schedule, and has made several major adjustments to his diet mostly cutting refined flour and sugars. While Anthony has no problems making his meals interesting he has struggled finding snacks that he both enjoys and are healthy for him. He is simply bored with nuts and berries. He has spent hours in Whole Foods and other health food stores searching for a few more snacks to add to his diet to no avail. He reads nutrition labels meticulously and watches his carbs and tries to eat organic as much as possible. As he arrives at NatureBox.com his first order of business is to see what the snack line up is. He finds several snacks and reads the nutrition facts for each. Anthony must find it easy to save the snacks he wants to a shopping cart or wishlist before he checks out.
I am pretty sure when it comes to reading food labels, I am no different than most health conscious eaters. When I went directly to the NatureBox.com homepage (as opposed to staying on the landing page I was linked to), I was able to peruse all the yummy looking snacks AND their nutrition facts. The biggest problem I had was narrowing down my choices for my first monthly snack box.
So here is a word to the marketers at NatureBox.com that paid for my click by placing a sponsored ad in one of my emails. Gals and Guys, I understand why you did what you did, Your headline about not eating crap for snacks was brilliant. If you were building a classic squeeze page campaign you did a great job. However, the one thing you failed to do was understand my needs, and every other healthy eater’s as well. I wonder if after you read the above Buyer Legend would you do the same thing? How many people can you expect to sidestep your landing page urls? And wouldn’t you like the credit for my conversion?
Dear reader, do you have your copy of Buyer Legends: The Executive Storyteller’s Guide yet? Your customers would love you to read it.