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- Many companies find themselves like this and choose to create massive digital stories to talk about what they do know: the characteristics of their product. And that’s a mistake, at least at the beginning of the conversation.
- Between the 80s and 90s of the last century, the software designer Alan Cooper built a methodology called User Persona .
There are startups and companies that know (and talk) a lot about their products, but who know little about their consumers and still talk less about them. Their websites and landing pages mention features , pricings and service efficiencies, but they do not connect with the wishes of the users.
Reading Anita Cufari’s new book, “ Storytelling and Copywriting ”, I discovered a game that will help me tell you something critical. By the way, Anita: if you read this article, I give you my congratulations: excellent work!
Surprise: you are getting married!
Imagine that you are going to get married. Even if you already are, or have been divorced, or have sworn that you will never fall in love again, imagine that you found love and decided to spend the rest of your life with that person. That is a good story. Cufari poses a challenge: “Would you tell the news of your wedding in the same way to everyone?” Before answering, think about addressing three groups of people: your co-workers (including your boss), your friends, and your parents.
Photo: Kevin Erdvig via Unsplash
We all think that news like this is given in the same way to everyone. But no: each one is told a version with a specific intention. From your boss, for example, you hope that he understands that you are going on your honeymoon and you want him to welcome you back without complaint. You know from your teammates that, although they will be happy for you, they will take the news as leaving the team at an important moment. You expect your friends to accompany you to the wedding ceremony and subsequent banquet and you will convince them to come with a smile.
You will want to convince your parents and siblings that the person you chose is your best option. You know that they care about you, that they want your good and that, even if they rejoice in your feelings, they cannot avoid seeing your partner as someone strange in the family who “steals” a son or daughter from them. Counteracting those emotions will be your purpose.
To each, their story
You’ve already seen: in Anita Cufari’s game you have a single story. But you will tell it with three different stories depending on your intention and the audience you are addressing. And you will do it, even if it is unconsciously, because you know that this way you will gain efficiency.
I have been defending for a long time that, in terms of persuasive storytelling and business, your story is the least of it . The most important thing is how you tell it to different people so that it resonates with all of them and at the same time they are convinced that your proposal is the best. And so they decide to buy you, or give you the holidays, or go to your wedding smiling. We all sell like this every day. We do it naturally.
But there is a problem when you are an entrepreneur and you need to attract investors and capitalist partners, or clients, or employees to your project … You don’t know them that much. And they don’t know you that much. You don’t know how they think, you don’t know how they feel.
Many companies find themselves like this and choose to create massive digital stories to talk about what they do know: the characteristics of their product. And that’s a mistake, at least at the beginning of the conversation.
Stories for people
Between the 80s and 90s of the last century, the software designer Alan Cooper built a methodology called User Persona . The best part is that he didn’t need a computer. All it took was a piece of paper, a pencil and a little time.
To complete it, one only had to interview a dozen real clients and ask them about different aspects of their life (their age, their gender, their place of residence, their origin, their level of income and studies …), their actions (why he uses the product, how he uses it…), his relationships (with whom he uses the product, what image he wants to project of himself…) and, especially, his feelings throughout his entire consumer experience.
The result of this information, presented in a graphic and understandable way, is what we call a User Persona or Buyer Persona file , a concept that is defined as “a semi-fictitious representation of an ideal client, based on market research and data. real about existing customers. ” With successive market tests, the User Person is put to the test until it is validated.
The method gained popularity because large companies adopted it successfully, from Nike to Apple . It even evolved into what is known today as UX (or User Experience ). After all, how can you optimize an experience if you don’t know the person who is going to live it? But the truth is that, despite its methodological progress, the majority of organizations still do not use the tool well.
My idea is this: To convince, you need a story. But not all of your audiences act, think, or feel the same way. Get to know them first using the User Persona and create a valid story for each user. Just like when you want to communicate your wedding. You will generate a communication focused on users and not on products. A story leveraged on people and not on digital.
Tips to create User Person
I share some tips on how to create User Persona files. I refer to what Jennifer Spencer wrote in the American edition of Entrepreneur in April 2020 and add my own tips :
1. Work as a team . The more you work on this, the better your chances of success. So, even if your intention is to work alone, help yourself with collaborators. It’s like when you ask your brother to help you put together a story about your wedding to convince your dad: it will turn out better.
2. Reflect previously . Creating a token is easy. Creating it well takes time. Before writing, think carefully about how your ideal clients are. Do they respond to a single common pattern, or to more than one ?; Does the pattern have to do with age or tastes? Etcetera. Think about how and why they could be buying your product and, above all, what they feel before, during and after consuming it.
3 . Document yourself well . Once the first profile is defined, interview real clients or people you know. Ask them why they would buy your product and how they feel consuming it. Ask them for their ethnographic data. Compare what you get with your previous reflection to see if there is consistency or to redefine whatever it is.
4. You don’t need all the data . There is an excess of information in the world. Also in the market data. In marketing we tend to focus on biographical and behavioral data and forget about feelings. Collect people’s fears and illusions: when you are going to tell a coworker that you are getting married, what do you think they fear? When you tell your best friend, what is her fear? They sure fear different things. Connect with each fear and you will convince both people.
5. Synthesize. You should create a summary sheet with the relevant information in a format that your team understands and remembers. There are plenty of free User Persona templates on Hubspot that you can download. You will find how to fill them in on YouTube or here .
6. Formulate as many chips as possible users . Each organization has more than one type of customer. So there is no single User Person . But it is not true that each client needs a different token. Having a number between 5 and 10 User Persona can be a smart way to work. Prioritize the most important by sales volume or strategic interest.
7. Build a meaningful story for each one. Now yes: According to the characteristics of each User Person , put together a different explanation of your product that refers to those concerns, needs and fears. Each one will receive his story. It is up to you to know where to deliver it. For example: will you find your parents in the office? Or your boss at home? Of course not. Each one lives in a different place. The same goes for customers. There are young people on Instagram and older people who watch television.
8. Test and do not fear the error . The messages are built from trial and error. It is clear that, at all weddings, there is always an aunt or a cousin who receives the invitation late or badly. But the important thing is that the wedding is celebrated and that the result is good in the end. In business storytelling , the same thing happens: the important thing is that everyone receives their invitation in a way that convinces them.
Product-centric storytelling abounds, but more customer-centric storytelling is missing. Coach Ampai Gimferrer believes that you should not go digital at any cost. And he’s right: connecting with customer sentiments is humanizing your brand.