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.