Sarah Doodley (@sarahdoody.) explores the difference between user stories and personas. She correctly identifies the problem with personas is they can be poorly crafted and so become caricatures of themselves.
Atlanticbt.com where I am the Marketing Director uses Agile project development. Agile always starts with customer stories. Those stories provide the functional needs we program to in a series of "sprints". Sprints are usually one week long and represent a desire to get something in the customer's hands as quickly as possible.
Sarah's piece is an excellent summary of the importance of user stories, how to accurately collect and use them.
I agree with the comments above and whole-heartedly endorse the use of personas in business. But unlike the article I think that personas do have a place in business -- if done right. Now that's the trick.
Let's take a page from the world of writing: no well developed characters, no story. "What," you say???!!
Yep, plot is important. But the secret to great storytelling is good character development. Know your characters and the plot unfolds. Know your customers stories and your business plot unfolds.
For example -- Hollywood crafts most of its films these days around a boilerplate plot filled with special effects. Love the special effects. But the plot and characters? Same old same old and mostly boring.
Unfortunately today, most of the biz story articles focus on structure. It's rare to come upon an article focusing on character development like this one does in ways that directly connects its importance to the biz world.
The more you know about your customers, and can craft personas based on good character development skills, the better off you will be. The author of the article suggests forgetting personas and just focusing on your customer stories. Do both actually -- they are important.
Customer stories give great insights into needs. Personas represent the emotional core of your customers. Two sides of the same coin.
Make sure you read the article so you'll know a bit more about how to gather your customer stories. From there you can craft your personas so they are meaningful and help you generate the results you are looking for.
Crafting personas and developing characters requires excellent listening skills -- not just to understand, but to listen for needs. That means developing empathic listening skills. Search this curation using the 'listening' tag in the filters tab above to get solid articles on how to do this.
Thanks for finding and sharing this Marty and Gregg!
Bravo: this is precisely the sort of factual corporate storytelling that might persuade us to buy a bespoke shirt from them. To intrigue us further, we'd love to see diagrams or photos that contrast the details of a shirt from Taylor ...
Karen Dietz's insight:
Examples and reviews like these are so helpful -- I wish I could find more to share with you.
Tauylor Stitch is a company making shirts. They have a website.
CorporateHistory.net reviewed their 'About Us' page. And gives the company several grades:
A 'B' for telling their story.
A 'B' for accessibility.
And a 'C' for Personality.
Overall grade: 'B'
Learn what they did to earn a B for telling their story, and what they could do better. And how'd they wind up with a 'C' for personality??!!
Compare your story to theirs to see what grade you might receive!
Ethan Allen Global, Inc., is one of the largest furniture manufacturing companies in the United States, with almost 300 stores and revenue of over $700 million. Founded in 1932 by brothers-in-law Nathan S.
Karen Dietz's insight:
Now here is an intrepid author, Marian Calabro, who takes on furniture maker Ethan Allen by rating their website "About" page.
The company's grade? A big fat "D". Why? No stories! And a video that holds you hostage. Yikes!
Periodically we need blog posts like this because there is nothing more illustrative of what NOT to do than a review like this.
So go read why Ethan Allen received such a poor grade and make sure you are not doing the same. And also use the article for ideas on how to fix/upgrade your current website using stories.
Hey -- this isn't about storytelling per se. But it is about spicing up your website with a little bit of humor. Perfect for a Friday afternoon! Let a little bit of humor be part of your business narrative :))
Enjoy the article and the ideas shared here. I hope it brings a smile to your face, and smiles within your community!
Sallee design shows how well words and design can work together to tell as story. Design your words effectively to guide your visitors' line of sight and draw them in. Invite them to listen to your story and to enter your site.
I like this concise and easy-to-read article about various storytelling elements you can incorporate into your website for greater connection and impact with customers/prospects.
In addition to words and images, the author mentions mascots and personality. Then there's parallax scrolling and interactivity. These later two might break a small business' budget but they are still good to know about.
Enjoy playing with these ideas and upgrading your website!
Woo hoo! If there was any doubt about the necessity for crafting and promoting your customer's stories, then this quick post will dispell them all.
Customer case study specialist Casey Hibbard shares some research from Gartner about the impact of customer stories on sales, and then lists specificallyhow customer stories can lead to business growth.
As I'm rebuilding my website, I'm taking Casey's advice -- and hope you do too.
Oh -- but make sure you are actually writing customer stories to share and not testimonials. Testimonials are critical -- yet they are mostly valuable opinions from customers about their experience with you. That's part of your 'story' but they often are not really stories.
Soooo -- write mini-stories or storied case-studiesabout your work with customers to receive the full impact of your customer stories!
Are you a headlines person? You know, the kind who reads the first few chapters of business books on Google and then move onto the next? Are you probably going to scan through this post for bolded phrases and numbered lists and then retweet it before really digging into the details?
What an interesting take on sharing stories on the Internet! I just love this new twist, and the ideas shared here for creating content. And with valuable points to take to heart.
The premis of this article is that many people will simply scan the content you create for your blog, website, social media posts, etc. Yet storytelling requires reading, not scanning.
So what's a person to do? Follow the advice here! Make your stories scannable, also. Seems like an oxymoron and there are times when it might not work. But then there will be times when you can follow the advice here and still have your stories be effective.
How do you do that? This author suggests saying the same things lots of times but in different ways, and using visual shortcuts.
Read the article to understand her points and think about what you might want to do.
Then share with me what your next steps are. I'd love to hear them!
Every use of your website is a conversation started by a site visitor. Think about it: why do people come to your site or app?
If you read my review and article on this same page ("Forget About Content Management...") about moving away from content management systems to developing audience development systems, then this article explains more about how to do that. Yeah!
I really like the specific examples and concrete steps laid out in this post. It all makes sense to me!
Once again, while never mentioning storytelling per se, the article is all about using stories and story elements to generate conversations and engagement with customers/prospects. Like: converse with personal prounouns, invoke action using verbs, and write visually. Sounds like storytelling to me.
So go grab this article and its tips so you can continue developing audiences and engagement to build business success.
Websites are incredibly versatile as a medium, to be used to display information and other content, and if well designed they can do this in an enjoyable way...
I really like this article because it approaches websites as a total narrative which all starts in its design. Notice I did not say text!
Yep -- design comes first and that is where the narrative for your business starts. Ultimately your website needs to move the viewer along a story arc that leads them to take some action -- like buy your product/service.
Treating your web pages as discrete pages is not creating an overall narrative. Sure -- the content of each page needs to be crafted as a story. But all the pages need to link together to create a narrative. This is more than just page linking in technical terms.
So read this article for the insights about designing your entire website as a narrative. The author has great ideas and tips, along with examples.
Emotional design has become a powerful tool in creating exceptional user experiences for websites. However, emotions did not use to play such an important role on the Web.
Such a cool article! Every entrepreneur, biz executive, and nonprofit needs to read this one.
Why? Because emotion is at the heart of effective storytelling. And websites can be imbued with stories and story elements --particulary emotion.
Now this is not about being 'emotional'. It is about understanding what triggers emotions within your viewers/readers that creates connection, fosters trust and loyalty, and moves them to action -- while being authentic and true to yourself.
This article is rich in ideas and how-tos -- and very complete. Take the time to savor it. Then start thinking about your website and how you can upgrade it with both stories, and imbueing it with emotional elements for max effect.
There is one page on my blog that has literally driven me nuts because I could not get it right.
No matter how many times I did it, it still gave me nightmares. I don’t even remember what I was putting on there in the initial days.
What another great post about "About Pages" to help us crack this tough nut. This article is specifically slanted to bloggers who either remain anonymous or go on and on about their accomplishments. Both ends of this extreme are not good.
Most "About Pages" are deficient -- either boring, too thin (not enough meaty material), or drone on and on.
Every single one of my clients struggles with this -- it's normal. It's hard to talk about yourself and know if you are hitting that sweet spot in sharing with people who you are.
The author here has giving us a 5 point structureto follow that will definitely help create engaging "About Pages."
The only missing piece I would add, is make sure you include lots of sensory imagery and an occasional metaphor in your bio. That will really make what you write come to life.
And then read the comments to the blog post -- they are great with more good information/ideas.
In “Storytelling in Web Design,” I explained the three most basic aspects of storytelling — character, setting, and action — and offered ways to begin including storytelling in web design using basic design elements. In this article, I will examine ten sites that use storytelling and list the character, setting, and action found in each story.
Thanks to fellow curator Gregg Morris for finding and sharing this post!
Bringing storytelling into web design is challenging. I like this post because it identifies 3 elements of stories that we can bring into web design -- character, setting, and action -- and then gives us examples demonstrating these.
What I really like is that for each website, all the elements are identified. It started giving me plenty of ideas for 'storifying' websites.
Having just freshened our own website, we felt it was timely to repost our 10 Commandments of About Us pages. Need a PDF to share with decision-makers at your organization? Glad to oblige. Commandment 1: Know thy ...
Karen Dietz's insight:
LOL -- love these 10 commandments to follow when creating/updating your About Page.
Truly, About Pages are one of the most underutilized parts of a website. But your About Page is a fabulous place to share your story, chat about your products/services, and win more business.
I also like how under each commandment in this post, questions are asked to help you figure out how to apply the commandment.
Now then -- DON'T do what CorporateHistory.net has done on their own website:
Their web pages take awhile to load using Chrome
This post has no author listed (who wrote this post, anyway??). Hey, we want real people behind posts!
Their "Our Story" page is not written as an engaging narrative. Time to go back to the drawing board.
There are no images/visual storytelling in the post -- I had to go find my own. That's not an included commandment, but it should be. Add at least one pic!
Ay yi yi. It's a classic case of 'do what I say, not as I do.' Oops, credibility slips! Since their business is all about storytelling, I hope they make these fixes soon.
There is one other Commandment I would offer:Thou shalt not attempt to write your About Page by yourself. It is just too hard to see the forest for the trees. Always get outside help, even if it is just friends and business colleagues giving you feedback and insights.
Despite these modeling flaws, the list is good so keep it handy for easy reference.
If you want more fab info on creating/updaing About Pages, just use the Filter tab near the top of the screen and click on 'aboutpages'.
"From annoying pop-up ads to often completely irrelevant video pre-rolls, the clutter is causing consumers’ “BS meters,” as digital rock star Gary Vaynerchuk has called them, to become more sensitive and accurate than ever before."
"So while the speed of technology is increasing, it’s interesting to note that one of the hottest trends in online marketing might just be the age-old art of story-telling."
"What does this mean? To cut through the clutter, businesses need to stop annoying, and start telling stories." - Lisa Ostrikoff
Since my column about the Power of the About Us page (remember 2006 when MySpace was really popular) was written, not a week goes by that I don’t receive a comment about it.
Karen Dietz's insight:
Hey folks -- if there is just one small thing you can do to prep for more business in 2013, it's upgrading your About Page on your website.
I really like the point the author, Bryan Eisenberg, makes -- "'About Us' is often the most neglected page on any website; if the page exists at all. It can put a human face on an otherwise technical, dry, and impersonal website. Properly written, it can provide some serious buying resolve to certain customer segments."
To help you get your story skills revved up to tackle this project, Eisenberg asks several really awesome questions at the end of the article. I know these will get those wheels turning in your brain.
And don't forget to give yourself time for several iterations. I just updated my year-old LinkedIn profile. My focus was on integrating several different aspects of my career and this time, it just came flowing out as a narrative that I now really like.
But trust me -- it took time to ask and answer to myself the same kind of questions posed in this article.
Am I done? No way. I realize I can change and update my About Me narrative as I need to. That is the beauty of storytelling -- our stories shift and change as we do. Our work as storytellers -- particularly in business -- is to remain authentic, engaging, and uplifting.
So what story(ies) are you going to be sharing in 2013 to grow your business?
Online conversion forms like PayPal’s registration page (right) are invariably formatted exactly like printed forms such as this credit card application (left)—approximately as fun to complete as a hazing ritual, despite having exactly the opposite...
I love love love this article because it points to another new application for using narrative or story elements in your business. Specifically here -- by re-designing the web forms on your site. Or frankly ANY form you ask a customer to fill out. Who knew??!!
The examples here are terrific and so are the tips. It is a very thorough article and one you will get a lot from.
Based on my work with clients and the content I curate on business storytelling, figuring out how to write you 'About Page' effectively is hard to do.
Here's my latest blog post on creating 'About' pages on your website. Here are the top 5 articles I could find on creating storied bios for websites.
With the volume of material I curate, it is sometimes hard to find the best articles on any given topic. So I thought I would make it easy for you when you are wrestling with, or upgrading, your website.
We can all agree that the work we do should inform, be appropriate to the client and their audience, and, of course, look good. But there’s a bonus third attribute worth aiming for—creating a lasting impression.
This article is long but a fascinating read -- especially for anyone who is working with stories in an organization and wants to know about creating visual memories.
Storytelling is creating art in the air. That means it is ephemeral and only lives on in the person who heard the story. That means the story we tell has to be compelling in order for it to stick in the minds of our listeners, and be repeated.
This article on faciliating visual memory is provacative on several levels.
First, it talks about what visual memory is and what goes into making them.
Second, it discusses in depth several examples of how companies have created powerful visual memories.
Third, even though this article talks about graphic design, many of the same principles apply to storytelling.
Fourth, if you want to know about how to bring the ephemeral art of storytelling into the built environment or websites or promotional materials as story triggers, this article is rich in examples and insights.
Once you have a compelling story to share, then start thinking about how you can create visual memories to have your stories stick even longer and more powerfully in the minds of your listeners.
2012 Global Players takes a look back at how corporate websites have evolved over the past year, to uncover why today it’s imperative for businesses to invest more time, imagination and resources in creating a corporate narrative.
Now here's an interesting article! The material that peeked my interest the most dealt with how the Internet creates fragmented stories which leads to businesses losing control over their narrative.
But then the article goes on to suggest that the typical ways companies create their websites does not work anymore in this fragmented environment.
Then the authors offer a link to a free downloadable study that show what companies can do to combat this fragmentation, develop and share their narrative, and succeed in today's Internet world -- with examples!
I checked out the study and it looks really good. I think as I study it I'll get lots of ideas for re-tooling the website which is going under another iteration of improvements.
My first ever interview for a sales job consisted of one question and lasted less than a minute. How I answered that question, and what followed, was one of the defining moments in my sales career. It just happened to occur before that career had even begun.
Now here is a great example of effective storytelling and story selling by sales professional Andy Paul in several ways:
It is a terrific story that is the entire blog post (conveys messages through the story; does not contain lots of information with a little story sandwiched in between).
The story conveys principles on multiple levels (personal values, sales values, corporate values)
The story demonstrates/shows the value of integrity -- Andy doesn't talk about it, he brings us into his experience.
The story contains all the elements of a compelling story (setting, problem, drama/tension/conflict, resolution), including a key message at the end.
It is easy to read (language, layout, length).
LOL -- Andy's a client -- can you tell?!
And I love that the story is about sales, but is not trying to sell you anything. Yet after reading the story, I bet most people would be very interested in purchasing and reading Andy's book.
You too can do this in your blogging and on your website. The more stories you can tell following the points above, the more trust (and sales) you will gain.
In the past year or so there has been a trend in web design towards the use of scrolling, which can help to engage visitors and provides a feeling of movement and animation.
Hah -- don't believe the title! What an amazing opportunity (scrolling websites) and what terrible storytelling. Because there was none. OK -- there was a little.
The site on Fracking site tells a story. The Bagigia and Apologie sites sort of do, but fall short.
Several other sites are totally slimy because once you get on them, you can't press the back-button to leave. That annoys me to no end!
So where does this leave us? Please -- don't do what these companies did! If you are going to use a scrolling website, you have a HUGE opportunity to actually share your story using this very cool technique.
You can share stories about how you got started, what happens with your customers, the future you are creating in the world, and back stories of your staff/product creation process.
Don't bore us with product features like these websites do! Haven't we learned that lesson yet???
Imagine how much money they spent, and wasted! You can do waaaaaayyyyy better than these folks.