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Once Upon a Time, There was a Marketer

I’ve had the opportunity to sit “behind the glass” and witness representative customers engage with brands and products in testing session. Sadly, occasionally I’ve been horrified by the comments, but thankfully, also pleasantly amazed. As I’ve said before during research, “I love people!” Truly, I do – especially when someone gives you that “golden nugget” of insight – that one user that gets it and can articulate their needs and how your product fulfills the need – it’s golden.

That response was shared by Leah Buley during her insightful blog post,”Design a Super Hero.”Hearing another researcher in love with her participants is what initially drew me in. But, then I found the golden nugget of her post -a proposed task for user research meant to elicit product ideas.

I’ve found this task to be difficult in a lab situation; it’s usually more beneficial for the product team to devise the product ideas then test the concepts. Test participants usually aren’t able to ideate “pie-in-the-sky” questions in a lab setting. However, this task proposed by Buley just may work – have your user complete the following statement and draw their story:

Experiment: You are designing the superhero of _[insert your industry]______. This superhero has secret weapons that make it possible to overcome the things that frustrate ___[users of your product/service]_________ like you and me. What secret weapons would you give this superhero?

As a blog commenter said, this may be more effective assigned as pre-test, “homework,” instead of an on-the-spot task, but again, if you can get that golden nugget and have users “express their needs and frustrations in particular areas of their lives” that your product can fulfill, a competitive advantage could be yours.

Also, this hero metaphor is used in my current read, “Storytelling: Branding in Practice,” by Klaus Fog, Christian Budtz, and Baris Yakaboylu. With rave reviews by Kotler, Godin and Peters, this book will not disappoint brand practitioners attempting to craft company stories to support the brand. Like the super hero exercise, this book offers “simple guidelines and practical tools” to help craft your company stories using the four elements of storytelling: the message,the conflict, and characters, and the plot or “the fairy-tale model.”Like Buley’s research task, the center of the brand story is the hero,the character to overcome the conflict in pursuit of a goal.

So, if your users can articulate a hero to surmount their product conflicts by imagining new features, as either described or sketched,you could not only have your product roadmap, but the beginning of a unique brand story.

I’ve decided that Buley’s super hero task, coupled with the book’s storytelling brand framework, could be the beginning my marketing utility belt!

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