Once upon a time, data and story never shared the same boardroom…
For nearly two decades, brothers Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg have been recognized by their peers as authorities in marketing optimization, analytics, and customer-experience design.
Buyer Legends: The Executive Storyteller’s Guide is their latest title, together with Anthony Garcia. Published in October, the book is a masterful crash course that walks marketers through the process of translating data into customer stories that get results. As marketers, connecting story to data is near and dear to our hearts.
For less than a cup of coffee ($2.99 on Kindle), look forward to a riveting read that takes less than an hour and produces some amazing insights and results. We put together a few questions for the authors, who continued to share their legendary marketing wisdom:
What prompted you to research and write the book?
“We spent two years working with Google, and that engagement presented a set of interesting challenges. The hiring team had tremendously aggressive goals and painfully tight deadlines. This was coupled with the fact that to get anything meaningful executed would require buy-in and cooperation from two or more different departments who were already saddled with their own deadlines and goals. We knew we couldn’t take them through our typical process, which could have taken months, so we had to figure out a way to boil the process down to its purest form. Because Google is such a data-driven company we were able to combine their data with personas and storytelling to implement an agile process that helped them improve buy-in, reduce execution cycles, and get them stellar results. As the results started to come in, we knew we had hit on something powerful and that we had to write about the process.”
What is the most common stumbling block companies run into when adopting Buyer Legends?
“Getting companies to invest a little more time in planning before execution. Writing a Buyer Legend takes about 90 minutes (less, once you understand the process). We are all busy and so that seems to many marketers an incredible investment of time. But we have seen over and over again that when you take the time to write a Buyer Legend, depending on your corporate metabolism, you can shave days, even weeks off the execution timeline. This is because story is such an effective and efficient way to communicate complexity and nuance that teams will begin with a fundamental understanding of the deliverables’ goal and their role within it. Without Buyer Legends, learning usually happens through the back and forth of execution cycles, and sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. Buyer Legends bridge that understanding gap between the boardroom and the front lines.”
How do you inspire a narrative-friendly culture in an organization dominated by bullet points and presentation slides?
“We encourage everyone in a company to be aware that the data in bullet points and decks represents action that real people are taking in the real world. Those people have thoughts, opinions, desires, preferences, and motivations that companies should work to understand. If they don’t, I would say those companies really don’t understand their own data and are hobbling their efforts to optimize marketing and selling efforts.”
How do you get right-brained creative types to mesh with number-crunching analysts in a meaningful, productive way?
“Storytelling and narrative are right-brain friendly; data and number-crunching are left-brain. Stories without data are fairy tales, and data without story is lifeless. Creative types must understand that data is critical and that without anchoring their Buyer Legends in data they risk putting their opinion before the needs of their customers. Analysts need to know that until they can tell the story behind the data, they can’t completely analyze or understand it. It’s one thing to say that “Landing Page A” performs 23% better than “Landing Page C” and that “Landing Page A” has a slightly different call to action than C, but quite another thing to understand why people are buying from A more than C. Again, story is the great bridge builder and integrates the right and left brain disciplines.”
What was the most surprising lesson you learned as a result of writing the book?
“That you can convey a big idea, a how-to, and have people read it, react to it, take action on it, and it can have a real impact on their businesses. We believed we could do it all in a short book that would take the average person under an hour to read. It is important to us that people experience first-hand the power of the Buyer Legends process. So, even though we planned it that way, it has been gratifying that people are reading the book, immediately taking action — and getting results.”
Could you share examples of the impact Buyer Legends has had on your readers or customers since the book came out?
“We had a small, health-related online retailer who does a few million a year gain a 46% increase from a Buyer Legends implementation. We have heard from everyone from a brick and mortar mattress store to an IBM executive who executed on the book quickly, without waiting for months. Right now, we are working with a client who has used this process to re-invent their content marketing strategy. While it is still early, their initial numbers are all moving in the right direction. Their team is energized, focused, and empowered and that, to us, is just exciting to see. A lot of people are telling their stories in our Amazon reviews, and we have started to document successes on our blog at BuyerLegends.com. Not bad for a book that has been out for just under a month.”
Not bad at all. No doubt, data and story are surely to live happily ever after.
About the Authors
Bryan Eisenberg is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today and New York Times bestselling books “Call to Action”, “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?” and “Always Be Testing”.
Jeffrey Eisenberg is the CEO of BuyerLegends.com, a company that teaches business people how to create customer-centered, data-driven customer experience design that is supported by narrative.
For the better part of two decades Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg, together with Anthony Garcia, have helped companies like HP, Google, GE Healthcare, Overstock, NBC Universal, Orvis, and Edmunds implement accountable marketing strategies emphasizing optimization of revenue and conversion rates for engagements, leads, subscriptions, and sales.