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Many companies find themselves creating massive digital stories to talk about what they 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, software designer Alan Cooper developed a method called User Persona.
There are startups and companies that know (and talk about) a lot about their products, but know little about their consumers and still talk less about them. Their websites and landing pages mention features, prices, and service efficiencies, but they are not what users want.
When 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 are reading this article, I congratulate you: Excellent work!
Surprise: you are getting married!
Imagine you are going to get married. Even if you've already been divorced, or have been divorced, or vowed that you will never fall in love again, imagine that you found love and decided to spend the rest of your life with this person. That's a good story. Cufari poses a challenge: "Would you tell everyone the news of your wedding the same way?" Before answering, there are three groups of people you should address: your co-workers (including your boss), your friends, and your parents.
Photo: Kevin Erdvig via Unsplash
We all think that such messages are given to everyone equally. But no: everyone is given a version with a specific intention. For example, you hope your boss understands that you are on your honeymoon and that he should welcome you back without complaint. You know from your teammates that although they are happy for you, they will see the news as leaving the team at an important moment. You expect your friends to accompany you to the wedding ceremony and banquet that follows, and you will convince them to come with a smile.
You want to convince your parents and siblings that the person you choose is your best option. They know that they care about you, that they want your well-being, and that even when they are pleased with your feelings, they cannot avoid seeing your partner as someone in the family who gives them a son or daughter "Steals". Counteracting these emotions will be your goal.
Each their story
As you have already seen, in Anita Cufari's game you have a single story. But you will tell it with three different stories depending on your intent and the audience you are targeting. And you will, even if unconsciously, because you know that this will make you more efficient.
I have long defended that when it comes to compelling storytelling and business, your story is the least. The most important thing is how you tell different people so that everyone resonates while believing that your suggestion is the best. And so they decide to buy you, give you the holidays, or go to your wedding smiling. We all sell like this every day. Of course we do.
But there is a problem when you are an entrepreneur and you need to attract investors and capitalist partners, customers or employees to your project … you don't know them that well. And they don't know you that well. You don't know how to think, you don't know how to feel.
Many companies find themselves creating massive digital stories to talk about what they 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, software designer Alan Cooper developed a method 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 this, one only had to interview a dozen real customers and ask them about various aspects of their life (age, gender, place of residence, origin, income and studies …) and their actions (why he uses the product as he does it uses …), his relationships (with whom he uses the product, what image he would like to project of himself …) and especially his feelings throughout his entire consumer experience.
The result of this information, which is presented graphically and understandably, is referred to as a user persona or buyer persona file. This concept is defined as “a semi-fictional representation of an ideal customer based on market research and data. real about existing customers. "In successive market tests, the user is put to the test until validation.
The method gained popularity as large companies, from Nike to Apple, adopted it successfully. It even evolved into what is now known as UX (or User Experience). How can you optimize an experience if you don't know the person who will live it? However, the truth is that despite the methodological advancement, the majority of organizations are still not using the tool well.
My idea is this: To convince you need a story. But not all of your target audiences act, think, or feel the same. Get to know them with the user personality first and create a valid story for each user. Just like when you want to communicate your wedding. They generate communication that is focused on users, not products. A story that relies on people, not digital media.
Tips for creating a user person
I am sharing some tips for creating user persona files. I'm referring to what Jennifer Spencer wrote in the American edition of Entrepreneur in April 2020, and adding my own tips:
1. Work as a team. The more you work on it, the better your chance of success. Even if you intend to work alone, help yourself with co-workers. It's like asking your brother to help you put together a story about your wedding to convince your father: it will get better.
2. Think beforehand. Creating a token is easy. It takes time to do well. Before you write, think carefully about what your ideal customers are like. Are they responding to a single common pattern or to several? Does the pattern have anything to do with age or taste? And so on. Think about how and why they might buy your product, and most importantly, how they feel before, during, and after using it.
3. Document yourself well. After defining the first profile, interview real customers or people you know. Ask them why they would buy your product and how they would like to consume it. Ask them for their ethnographic information. Compare what you get to 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 information overload in the world. Also in the market data. In marketing, we usually focus on biographical and behavioral data and forget about feelings. Collect people's fears and illusions: If you tell a colleague that you are getting married, what do you fear them? When you tell your best friend what is her fear You must fear various things. Connect with any fear and you will convince both people.
5. Synthesize. You should create a summary sheet of relevant information in a format that your team will understand and remember. There are plenty of free User Persona templates on Hubspot that you can download. You can find out how to fill them in on YouTube or here.
6. Formulate as many chips as possible. Every organization has more than one type of customer. So there is no single user. However, it is not true that every client needs a different token. A number between 5 and 10 user persona can be a smart way to work. Prioritize the most important ones based on sales volume or strategic interest.
7. Create a meaningful story for each. Now yes: According to each user's characteristics, put together a different statement of your product that addresses those concerns, needs, and fears. Everyone will get their story. It's up to you to know where to deliver it. For example: Do you find your parents in the office? Or your boss at home? Of course not. Everyone lives in a different place. The same goes for customers. There are young people on Instagram and older people watching TV.
8. Test the bug and don't fear it. The messages are created through trial and error. It is clear that at all weddings there is always an aunt or cousin who receives the invitation late or badly. But it is important that the wedding is celebrated and that the result is good in the end. The same thing happens in business storytelling: It is important that everyone receives their invitation in a way that convinces them.
Product-oriented storytelling abounds, but what is missing is more customer-oriented storytelling. Coach Ampai Gimferrer believes that you shouldn't digitize at any cost. And he's right: the connection with customer sentiments humanizes your brand.