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Story telling has obviously been around for a long, long, long time. What is new is that story telling is beginning to gain acceptance as a planning tool for strategies focused on buyer experience interactions and understanding the social buyer persona. In the design of products as well as in experience design, stories presented as scenarios began to appear in the mid to late 90’s as a way of imagining the usage of products in a contextual environment. As we enter the social age, scenarios that tell stories can help shape strategies as well as guide organizational understanding of how to interact with the social buyer persona.
Scenarios that contain robust narratives can be very effective in describing as well as imagining the buyer’s interaction with a company’s touchpoints – be they in-person, telephonically, or socially. What we are witnessing today is that the social buyer persona has available to them more interaction points through social technology. As a result, the demand as well as requirements for traditional and social interaction is increasing on the part of buyers.
All good stories have good context as well as good narratives. Whether it is novels or non-fiction, we are swept away by imaginative descriptions of the environment and the interactions taking place in a story. Good storytelling and imaginative scenarios have at its foundation insights gleamed from contextual inquiry. Without this foundation of learning about your social buyer persona contextually, it will be extremely difficult to create stories and scenarios that help paint a realistic picture of ideal interactions with your social buyer persona.
Scenarios are effective when they are not focused on the complex technical or technology layers of interactions and not focused just on tasks, needs, and wants. I mentioned in my previous article, Using Context for Social Buyer Persona Strategy, the importance of focusing on goals as opposed to just tasks and needs. This is important in storytelling and scenarios to open up the possibilities of how an organization can create conventional and social interactions that help social buyer personas to accomplish their goals. An overabundant focus on tasks and needs could have us a fall into the trap of “featuritis” that has plagued product design and experience design for many years. An unhealthy focus on perceived wants in content strategy and content marketing can result in misguided efforts in content creation. Leaving buyers with bewilderment as opposed to assimilating knowledge that helps them to accomplish specific organizational as well as personal goals.
Businesses today are still attempting to figure out the levels and various forms of social interactions afforded to us by continual advancements in social technology. Stories and scenarios that are based on contextual inquiry can give us a good sense of whether existing and new social technologies are appropriate for our social buyer personas. They help us from being reactionary to every new social technology introduced and understand the context in which they can help your social buyer persona to accomplish specific goals. From a content strategy perspective, scenario creation can reveal how buyers choose and use content, how they interact socially with content, and how content is used to further efforts to understand how to achieve initiatives and objectives.
Since their introduction into design, stories and scenarios have served as a powerful tool to help understand how users as well as buyers can have an ideal experience. Success in their use is highly dependent on how much contextual inquiry takes place. It is very much like distinguishing between fiction and non-fiction. Without investing in gaining contextual understanding, you and a team will most likely engage in a form of fictional story and scenario creation. Uncertain on whether your social buyer persona will actually have such a scenario and perhaps a tendency to focus on perceived tasks and needs.
Some of the best non-fiction books ever written are acclaimed for their deep investigation as well as creative narratives that engage the reader. Stories and scenarios rooted in context will be closer to this level of realism and allow an organization to be creative about how to help its social buyer persona accomplish goals – as opposed to just fictional story writing.