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How to Make Your Customer the Star of Your Brand Story, Part 2

Dissect your “Who” to find your “Why"


Here’s where we left off…in Part 1: “How to make your customer the star of your brand story.” We looked at the importance of creating an emotional connection in your brand story. This emotional connection in your brand storytelling is the key to 1) getting your ideal customer to notice you and 2) convincing them that you understand their world and can help them (so they move forward with you). In order to do this, I dared you to get more specific in your brand narrative by doing two things: Create a “Brand Brigade” and use that Brand Brigade to better understand who your customer is.


As a refresher, here were the specific steps (covered so far) to achieve that…

  • Step 1: Build a Brand Brigade and get their perspective

  • Step 2: Capture every voice on a blank canvas

  • Step 3: Co-create “Storming Norms”

  • Step 4: Find out Who Cares? (Shoot for quantity!)

You can find details on these steps in this previous blog post. Now, let’s look at what to do with this information.


You’ve brought your Brand Brigade together – members from product, sales, marketing, support, services, and more – in front of a blank canvas and asked them the question, “Who cares most about what you do?” And they’ve answered according to the unique perspective each of them has in serving your brand, giving you a rich and robust set of answers.

Next, we need to categorize and prioritize all of the data, ideas, and information your Brand Brigade contributed. Then we’ll further flesh out who rises to the top. After these steps, you will have all of the key ingredients for a powerful brand story.


Here are the steps to continue where we left off…


Step 5: Categorize and prioritize your “Who cares most”

The next thing you’ll want to do is make sense of the beautiful mess your Brand Brigade created and you facilitated. To do that, I recommend three things: 1) spot likenesses in what everyone added to the canvas, 2) group them into buckets, and 3) prioritize those you want to start with. I’ll walk through how to tackle each of these.


Spot likenesses

When it comes to “Who cares most” about your brand, an obvious place to start might be “Role.” Your group members may have had different ways to describe the same kind of role. The differences are good because they could shed light on a different aspect of the same person which is color and context describing a real person that you can use later in your branding.


For example, let’s pretend your company is a board game creator. Your Brand Brigade might contribute these types of audience “roles” to your “Who cares most” canvas: Kids, adults. These would be obvious and unique roles, but they don’t give you much color

that might guide how to emotionally connect with your audience in your branding efforts.


Hopefully, because you were shooting for quantity, your Brand Brigade gave more dimension and contributed more ideas than just a couple of the obvious roles. In this example, what other people might care about board games? Are they moms? Dads? Siblings? Only-children? Friends? Teens? Students? Teachers? Thinkers? Strategists? People who want to relax? People who want to compete? Now we are starting to get into some groups of people with very specific and unique needs and wants. These are inklings of an authentic brand story.


Categorize

Now you’ve been able to spot likenesses across your canvas. Next, you’ll want to add another dimension where you categorize in a way that’s meaningful to your customer journey and your marketing and sales pipeline. If in the above step, your Brand Brigade focused largely on role, here are some additional lenses you may want to look at…

  • Who notices you first? Of these ideal customer audience segments, who typically engages with your marketing content first? Who does your sales team start with? This could be your “Lead In” bucket.

  • Who knows the most about the value you’ll bring? This could be your “Influencer” bucket.

  • Who holds the keys to the castle? Once you’ve started the conversation with your potential customer, and you’ve won the approval of your Influencer, who at the end of the day signs on the dotted line? This could be your, ”Decision maker” bucket.

  • Who consumes/uses your offering? This is another typical persona bucket, the “User.”

Prioritize

The answers to the above questions will be a guiding light for your prioritization, which is exactly what you should do next! Have your Brand Brigade each choose their top three audiences. Just like in the idea storming, you’ll immediately see patterns. The group will self-select and self-prioritize which stories should be created first.


Am I starting to make you sweat a little thinking about choosing one audience over the other and possibly leaving someone important out? Don’t worry, having a story for each of these audiences is important. Remember, the idea isn’t to include all of these audiences in one message, it’s to create a specific message for each audience. You can always come back and tackle the next audience on your list once the higher-priority one has been completed.


Marketing is often pressured to not leave any of these audiences out in our branding and messaging. The problem with this is that once you’ve zoomed out and out and out again (so you don’t leave anyone out), your message becomes so diluted, you no longer have the makings for a compelling brand story.



Step 6: Dive into the needs of each persona

By now you are getting the hang of bringing your Brand Brigade together and tapping into each member’s brain. You’re also getting the hang of dissecting these ideas, grouping them, spotting patterns, and prioritizing them. This is A LOT!

The next challenge is to create a compelling brand story by making it specific and meaningful to a real person. To do this we’re going to look at each target audience bucket your Brand Brigade prioritized (in the previous step). What are they trying to achieve, what stands in the way, and later we’ll bring in how you help. With this, you can create authentic brand stories that speak very specifically to each one of these ideal customers.

Here’s how to do it…

For EACH of the prioritized target audiences your Brand Brigade came up with, ask the following questions. Start with the top (target audience) your group prioritized. And just like you did in previous steps, let the ideas flow.

🎯 What are they trying to achieve?

☹️ What stands in the way?

🥳 How do you help?

You do this in the same way that you established “Storming Norms” and found the “Who” in Step 3. Start with a Blank Canvas. Go over the “House Rules” (you can add to them if you bring in new members of your Brand Brigade as your brand strategy progresses). Then ask the questions.

For this one, I would divvy answering these three questions into two parts.

Part I. The first blank canvas would be dedicated to “What are they trying to achieve” and “What stands in the way” Like this…


Part II. Then you can add in, “How do you help?” to each of the obstacles your Brand Brigade identified.



You’ve now further defined your story elements into discrete story combinations that look like this…

Story #1: (persona) + (need/want) + (how you help)

Story #2: (persona) + (need/want) + (how you help)

Story #3: (persona) + (need/want) + (how you help)

And so on.

Now you can prioritize those story combinations using lenses into the data (similar to how you did for establishing and prioritizing the “Who cares most” in Step 5. In this case, I might start by asking the group these questions…

  • 📈 Which (persona) + (need/want) combination do we see most as an organization?

  • 💰 Which combo brings in the most business?

  • 🚀 Which combo has the shortest sales cycle?

Based on these lenses or others you and your Brand Brigade come up with, you’ll get a sense for which story you should build first, and you can prioritize this list overall, so all of the most important stories get built!


You have the makings for an authentic brand story

Now you have led your Brand Brigade to define how those who care about you most can overcome obstacles and get what they are striving for with your help.

I’m going to show you that sentence again and color-code the pieces that are about you (in blue) and your customer (in orange).

How those who care about you most can overcome obstacles and get what they are striving for with your help.




Congratulations! Your customer is the star of your story, and you are a supporting character.

Now your marketers can turn your top prioritized story combinations into fully fleshed-out stories brought to life via your website, digital marketing and advertising campaigns, social media, email marketing, account-based marketing, and more. Most of your content marketing from this point forward should be extensions of and informed by these stories.


The magic happens throughout the entire process and can be summed up this way – the diversity and volume of thought, and the co-creation, ownership, and impact of the solution. Your customer is the star of your story. You have specific scenarios defined where this is true with players at various stages of your customer journey experiencing challenges that you help them solve and ultimately get them to where they are trying to go. You have the nucleus of powerful stories with specific details for each target audience that can be fully fleshed out in your various marketing efforts.

The cherry on top…

Conventional marketing models lean on marketing to create the brand strategy, all of the brand messaging, train sales and the rest of the organization, and hope on a wing and a prayer that everyone will effectively use what you’ve given them. This is a lengthy transformation, if any transformation at all, because it’s a game of telephone. Those learning need to work through mere memorization and regurgitation before they can get to real comprehension and conceptual understanding. And unless they happen to believe in the vision of this new brand story (or are great at playing the part), they won’t be able to share it with any level of emotion, because they have no skin in the game. And as we know, an emotional appeal is what gets your potential customer to pay attention, and emotions are also what get them to change thinking or behavior.


With the Brand Brigade / Blank Canvas approach, you can rapidly speed transformation, because the people who helped create the brand story are the same people you need to learn it. Not only will your internal stakeholders understand the story, but they will be passionate about it. Along with you, they own it.


If you’d like help navigating this, visit tailfeathermarketing.com



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