On a beautiful Sunday morning, you decide to go to your favorite coffee shop, with your favorite coffee book. As you drive your car, you admire the weather and you are already excited with the prospect of spending 2 blissful hours drinking coffee and reading.
And out of the blue, an idiot on a motorcycle comes from the wrong side. He is about to crash into you. Thanks to your powerful brakes (and perhaps some higher super-power), a collision is avoided.
The bliss, however, is gone. And now all you feel is frustration.
Business owners feel a similar frustration
I often come across Entrepreneurs and Creators who go from ‘Bliss’ to ‘Frustration’ in a matter of days. They have been selling their products and services for a while. And that’s when they are hit by an unpleasant truth.
Despite having customers, they still don’t know what makes their business unique. They are unable to clearly articulate the positioning and the brand narrative of their business.
In this article, let’s talk about how you can build a strong narrative by talking to customers.
- Understanding the status quo
We begin by asking this question to our customer – “Before using our product, how were you solving this problem?”
With this question, we get an insight into the life of the customer before they purchased our product. We understand the tools, methods, and processes that they used.
Perhaps, its direct competitors. Or maybe, it’s the indirect competitors. (If you are selling accounting software, your competition is not just other businesses that sell accounting software, but also excel sheets!)
These insights are important because they help us understand the status quo, something that we would need when we draft our brand narrative.
- The problems with the old game
Talking to customers also helps us understand their frustrations with the old game. Remember, there was something painful that pushed them to buy our product. And when we understand the problems that they were having with the old methods, we get important insights.
Questions that we ask here – Why didn’t you continue using (our competitor)? Why did you feel the need to buy a new solution? What changed?
Remember, understanding these problems is important. In your narrative, you will be attacking all the problems that the old game creates.
- The new game
The new game is a critical component of your brand narrative. Insights about this new game will come from the customers. How?
Here’s what you ask the customer – What benefit have you experienced after using our product, that you did not experience before?
The answer to this question would let you know how the customers are actually perceiving your product, and what exact benefit are they getting out of it. And once you know that, you can use this information to define the ‘New Game’ in the narrative.
Let’s take an example, shall we?
Suppose you are selling email marketing software. After talking to your customers, you get these insights –
- The Status quo
Before buying our product, the customer had already used software from 2 of our competitors.
- The problems with the Old Game
The customer was not happy, as the email marketing software were too complicated and had a steep learning curve. The customer ended up wasting a lot of time learning these software, and even after that, they continued to find them complicated.
- The New Game
The customer liked our email marketing software because of its simplicity. They described our software as simple and extremely easy to use.
Now, with these insights, you get an important insight for your brand narrative – simplicity.
Here’s how your narrative may look like
Conventional email marketing software are complicated. You spend a ton of energy learning about them. And the learning never ends. You need to have an email marketing experience that is simple. Oh, and we just happen to sell the most simple email marketing software.
Wait, hold on… don’t I need a narrative before the product launch?
Yes, in an ideal world, you should be starting with a small audience and intentionally build a product that solves their ‘bleeding neck’ problem. The narrative is built first and the product is created based on the same narrative.
If you build a product first and then create a story, wouldn’t that be harmful? How can you actually go in reverse?
You can go in reverse
Because the world is not ideal. Yes, maybe in your next venture you would start with the narrative. But for most of us, we launch the product and then think of the narrative. And that’s okay.
Never avoid talking to the customer
Customers give us a wealth of insights. Let’s talk to them every day. And while we do that, let’s avoid crashing into the idiot with the motorcycle.