Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Innovation Test: Five Questions

The word “innovation” is very much in fashion these days, and every firm wants to describe itself as being innovative, even if they haven’t changed anything substantial in decades.   As such, the claim to be an innovative firm should be viewed with some suspicion because further inquiry often provides little valid evidence to support that claim.  To that end, here are five questions that can be asked to determine the validity of claims to innovation:

What would your customers say is unique about your products?

If a firm is innovative, then it has delivered to the market something that is not a part of the standard offering that can be had from any other firm that provides the same products.   Where a company simply adopts things that are already available in the market, this is not innovation, but imitation.

Pretenders are fond of talking about the products that are under development but have not hit the market to deliver value to the customers – and probably will never make it off the drawing board.   Just as the young dilettante who claims to be an artist has not sold (or even completed) a single painting, such firms enjoy toying with fanciful ideas but haven’t made a serious commitment to becoming what they already claim to be.

A genuine innovator should be able to rattle off a list of unique products or product features that are already available in the market as evidence that the firm is not merely daydreaming about being innovative, but is actually innovating.   And asking the question from the perspective of the customer is significant: insiders consider their ideas to be unique, but customers take a broader perspective and are less supportive of vendors’ delusions.

What new products are you planning to offer next year?

While the previous question sought to discover how a firm has been innovative in the past, this question to consider whether the firm will be innovative in the near future.   If the firm is kicking around wild ideas but those ideas are not going to make it to market in the foreseeable future, it’s not really innovating, merely daydreaming.

Unfortunately, this is a question that pretenders are adept at answering because “the future” is very easy to fake:  they can speak at length about what they are going to do, and there is no way to determine whether they will actually act on these alleged intentions.  But ask them for a date when their new product will hit the shelves, and they will often answer vaguely, if at all.

Even so, it’s a good question to ask because the most basic requirement of innovation is delivering goods to market, and so many of the pretenders have not put serious consideration into the commercial viability of their imaginings.

Where do you get the idea for [that new product]?

Asked as a follow-up to the question about new products, this question seeks the source of innovation and validates that it is actually innovative.   Particularly where the claim of innovation is qualified (“We are the first Fortune 500 company to do this") it is often purloined (they adopted the idea of a smaller firm).

Firms that take their ideas from their competitors are not innovative, but merely imitative: they are simply mimicking the behavior of others, often without understanding its value.   An idea that is “innovative for us” is not really innovative.  Neither are firms whose ideas come from inside, as insiders are generally devoted to the status quo and their ideas are usually for efficiency improvements rahter than innovations.

Truly innovative ideas are the result of researching and observing the customer, who is the ultimate judge of whether a product is commercially viable and as such is the best source for new ideas, or from looking at gaps in the market to determine where there might be a need to do something that isn’t already being done.

In the past five years, what products have you discontinued?

This is a great question to ask because it is often unexpected: those who wish to be innovative are focused on the new ideas and seldom pause to consider that its existing products should be made obsolete by its new product offering.

The pretenders will be caught flat-footed by this question because they have not considered that innovation is a transformative process that not only creates something new but also replaces something old.  There is the possibility that innovation is done to branch out in new directions while maintaining the old like of business, but this is rare and seldom comes to fruition.

A genuine innovator should be able to tell which products were replaced by newer and more innovative ones – though in many cases the previous product is maintained to continue to serve the legacy customers who are change-averse, sales should be dropping and the product should be on its way out, with a sunset on the horizon.

With Whom are You Competing?

Where a product is significantly innovative, if often (though not always) encroaches into other industries and the innovative firm finds its greatest competition is firms that are not considered part of its traditional category.

Where a firm is competing with other firms that are very similar, this means that its products are very similar in the eyes of the market: it is merely a slightly improved substitute for something that already exists, which means that it is not innovative.

A genuine innovator has often crossed the line, as the products that result from an innovative process are significantly differentiated from its competitors that it has broken from the herd.   The innovation offers a different thing, not the same product with superficial differences.

And in the End …

A firm that is truly innovative is branching out in new directions, creating new products that cause them to break away in a different direction from others, that replace their existing product offerings, and offer some genuinely unique value to the market.   Not all firms that innovate cover all these bases, but firms that are not innovative fail to touch on any of them.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Propaganda and Customer Education

It’s generally held that the amount of time that a customer will spend educating himself about a purchase is proportional to the risk involved in the purchase – i.e., a high probability of disappointment, particularly where there is such a significant investment of cost or emotion that making a bad decision will be damaging.    This seems to make perfect sense, but there is still the notion that customers make even major decisions by gut-feel.  I’ve researched the subject a bit, and have unconverted some interesting details:

First of all, there is a great deal of disagreement on what qualifies a customer as being “educated” about a product.   The general sense is that the customer has gathered enough information and analyzed it to the point where he makes the correct decision.   But the “correct” decision seems to be highly subjective: it is the decision with which the assessor agrees.   Ask any salesman or marketer, and the only correct decision is for the customer to purchase their product.

The best test of the correctness of a decision is the outcome – the solution solved the problem that motivated the customer to make the purchase.  Or said another way, that the customer is satisfied with the purchase.   This, too, is difficult to assess because customers who respond to satisfaction surveys most often give positive responses to justify their past decisions: admitting they were wrong or foolish, that they decided to purchase a product that turned out to be useless, is a shame that many people have difficulty admitting.

Ironically, this suggestion that customers overstate their satisfaction is followed immediately by the suggestion that they are often dissatisfied: that most customers make uneducated decisions and end up being disappointed by a brand, but place the failure of their decision on the brand itself: they claim the product is bad whereas it is really the wrong product because they made the bad decision.   

So it seems that a customer who didn’t buy their brand is uneducated, but so is the customer who bought their brand and is dissatisfied.   The only customer a firm will consider to be educated is the one that purchase their brand and expressed satisfaction with the decision.   It’s difficult to tell whether the sellers or the buyers are in a state of utter denial.

A second point of interest is the degree to which information sources are reliable.   One author cited a survey conducted by Ogilvy One Worldwide that suggested around 70% of the sources that customers use are “deceptive and useless” and provide “the wrong kind of information.”   But again, there is the subjectivity defect, as this was a survey among salesmen whose reaction is skewed to regard any source that does not support his brand as being a bad source – and further, that the salesmen are unlikely to know what sources a customer actually consulted.

There once was the sense that the Internet is full of mostly bad information that is misleading to the public – but this is a distortion.   There are indeed many bad sources of information, but they are not considered reliable by customers: they are quite capable of assessing the value of a source, recognize that someone’s opinion on Twitter is not as valid as the information on an academic or industry organization’s site.

The greater problem with sources is that they are simply not consulted: people make gut-feel decisions and do not bother doing research.   But it remains unclear whether they are doing so for purchases in which there is sufficient risk to merit that level of rigor.   Again, industry insiders feel that their products or brands are very important and customers ought to invest significant time in researching them – but this is not the way that actual customers feel about their products and brands.

I was only able to devote a few days to this research, but during that time I did not find a single source that seemed objective and reliable – so while I’m left without an answer, the experience has left me very suspicious about the entire topic of customer education.  Whether a given source believes customers to be educated or uneducated probably has more to do with the bias of the source than the behavior of the customer, and should be viewed with a jaundiced eye.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Customers and Fans

A marketer for a sports team spoke about the difference between fans and customers, which is critical to avoid misspending his budget.   A sports team has many fans, particularly when it is having a winning season, but fans are simply enthusiasts for a team who do not contribute significant revenue to the team.   Certainly, purchases of logo merchandise are a secondary stream of revenue, and watching games on television increases the advertising revenue, but his main concern is ticket sales – and in that regard, fans are not customers.   It struck me that this applies to many brands.

The most obvious example is luxury brands: there are many teenaged boys who are obsessive about sports cars, who study the brand and its products to the point that they are as knowledgeable as salesmen and who are otherwise highly obsessive about the brand – but who cannot purchase the car (though a very few may have that ability much later in life).   There’ a little revenue to be made from them through purchases of cheap logo merchandise, but little else.

I expect a more widespread problem is that of the fan who is the occasional customer – the enthusiast who roots for the team and buys a ticket once in a while.   But very often what prevents that fan from being a more frequent customer is something that marketing cannot fix: there is a functional barrier.   In his example, the functional barrier is that many games are held on weekdays, and it takes a die-hard fan to take time off of work on a regular basis to attend games.  The franchise could schedule more weekend games, at which ticket sales are higher, but this requires the cooperation of the league: the visiting teams want to benefit from weekend sales as well, so at best he could schedule half the weekend games at the home stadium.

Broadening the context, there are likely reasons that “fans” of consumer products who have functional barriers to purchasing it more often.  For example, if a product is not available in a convenient location, the die-hard fan will travel to obtain it, but the average fan will not: he will purchase it when it is convenient to do so, and may occasionally go out of his way to obtain it, but generally will not do so if it is significantly inconvenient.   The brand can open more retail locations or seek to place its product with general retailers, but there may be obstacles to doing so.

It’s also worth noting that entertainment is a luxury good for which there is no limitation on demand except the ability to devote time to leisure pursuits.   That is, it is possible for a fan to consume as much product as the entertainment venue can produce by attending every event.  When it comes to most consumer goods, there are more strict consumption limits: however enthusiastic a person is about a brand of gasoline, they will only purchase as much as they need, and it would be unreasonable to suggest that a fan would spend more time driving for the sake of being able to purchase more gasoline.

The ideal situation for any product is to have a large group of people who are both diehard fans and frequent customers – but the marketing department has little ability to create them.   In the sports example, it is the operations staff (coaches) who are able to improve the team’s performance and have winning seasons, which creates more fans.    In consumer goods, it is likewise departments such as manufacturing and design that make products better, hence deserving of fanaticism.   The marketer can advise operations on ways to improve the product, but in the short run is limited to the number of fans and customers that exist, and must seek them out.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bad SWOT Analysis

If you use the right tool in the wrong way, you can do a lot of damage – and too often, I have seen SWOT analyses used the wrong way, and the output is a disastrous strategy that is pursued with great confidence.   I’m used to seeing this sort of foolishness from people who have no training or education in strategic planning – but recently, I was in a planning session with an MBA (granted, it was from a diploma mill) who did exactly the same thing, so it’s worth mulling over a bit.

Essentially, the SWOT analysis is a method for matching the strengths and weaknesses (SW) of a firm against opportunities and threats (OT) in the environment.   This identifies opportunities that can be seized immediately (because the company has the strength), opportunities for which the firm must gear up (because it is lacks the strength to pursue them), threats that the firm doesn’t need to worry about (because it already has strong defenses), and threats against which the firm must bolster its defenses (because it has a weakness).   It’s a very good tool when the analysis is done properly, and a very bad one when the analysis is poor.

The Wrong Way

The wrong way to SWOT is to begin by making a list of strengths and weaknesses and then considering what opportunities and threats may arise because of them.   This is the way untrained strategists approach the  task, because they are following the acronym in order: first S then W then O then T.  And apparently, it is the way SWOT analysis is taught in at least one specious “school” of business.

The problem with this approach is that it presumes the firm is unchangeable: its strengths and weaknesses are natural qualities that cannot be overcome.   It may be possible to recognize that the firm lacks the strength to advance on an opportunity, then to consider what changes can be made to gather the resources needed – but this is seldom done.  Instead, the conclusion is “we cannot pursue that opportunity” and no thought is given to making strategic changes to strengthen the firm where it is currently weak.

A second and more serious problem is that once strengths and weaknesses have been discussed and documented, this becomes a cognitive filter for the identification of opportunities and threats.   Any opportunity that does not correspond to an identified strength is simply ignored because the analyst’s mind has been primed to consider only opportunities that align with existing capabilities.

When SWOT is done the wrong way, it leads inexorably to the conclusion that the firm should remain exactly the way it is and keep doing exactly what it is doing – to capitalize on its strengths and ignore its weaknesses – meanwhile ignoring most of what is going on in the industry and the market.  This effectively prevents innovation, or even reaction to obvious problems.

The Right Way

The right way to SWOT is to begin with a list of opportunities and threats in the external environment, and then to recognize whether the firm is strong or weak in regard to those environmental factors.  From there, the analyst might recognize threats that can be ignored and opportunities that can be seized due to existing positions of strength – but he also recognizes the need to make strategic changes so that the firm can move in a different direction to seize opportunities or defend against looming threats for which the firm is not currently prepared.

Ideally, an independent researcher conducts the analysis of opportunities and threats in the environment.   This is critical because the analysis must be objective rather than being biased according to the current capabilities of the firm, or by any insider’s agenda to take actions that are motivated by personal ambitions.   It is only in this way that a firm can have a comprehensive and realistic perspective of the opportunities and threats it is facing.

It is only after the environmental scan that the strengths and weaknesses of the firm can be considered: a firm can have significant capabilities at something that is completely irrelevant to the market, which means that those capabilities are not a strength (and the resources consumed to maintain that power can and should be redirected).   This is a task for insiders who know the firm’s capabilities – through one must take care to avoid including those who are complacent or happy with the way things are: such people are averse to change and will make whatever distortions are necessary to defend the status quo and carry on with business as usual, even when it does not make sense.

Done correctly, the SWOT analysis will highlight the need to make strategic changes: opportunities and threats have been identified for which the firm does not have sufficient strength - but rather than abandon the opportunities and ignore the threats, this analysis will quickly identify ways in which the company can gain strength by taking action (build or reorganize a department, acquire or partner with a firm who can supply the necessary strength).   It can also identify areas in which the firm can divest itself of unnecessary and unprofitable operations that drain its resources by finding strengths and weaknesses that have no relevance to any threat or opportunity.


While the right tool can generate substantial benefits if it is used in the right way, it can do significant damage if used incorrectly, and this is the fundamental problem of improper SWOT analysis.   Moreover, because decision-makers feel that due diligence has been done and their plans are informed by intense research and analysis, it gives them great confidence to charge off in exactly the wrong direction.   This dangerous blend of ignorance and confidence is the ideal recipe for disaster.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Storytelling Basics for Customer Experience

Customer experience strategies are often conceived and described using the techniques of storytelling: we consider the needs of our customers and the actions they may take to discover plausible scenarios in which he might purchase and use our products.   If we write a convincing story, in which the details are carefully considered, this yields a strategy that has a better chance of success than a story that is unconvincing, poorly thought out, and highly implausible.

However, man customer experience stories are quite bad: “a person walks into a store and buys our product” is a hope, but many questions remain unanswered, such as “Who is this person?” and “Why does he need our product?” and without knowing those and other details, the stories are unsatisfactory – they don’t make much sense, seem highly unlikely, and do not provide much direction or inspiration.

To be successful in customer experience design, it’s necessary first to be able to write a good customer story, and to write a good story requires a little bit of skill and a fair amount of knowledge about what a story is and what it must include.  To that end, let’s explore what a “story” is as a whole, and explore each of its components.

Story Structure

To begin, “a person walks into a store and buys our product” is not a story, it’s just a narrative – and not all narratives are stories.   A narrative is a description of any sequence of events, whether or not there is any flow or logical connection among the activities that are described.   To be a story, a narrative must “go” somewhere – the sequence of events culminate in the achievement of a goal.  There is a standard pattern that is followed by virtually every story, and it is this:

Once upon a time, there was a person whose life was going along very well until the day he discovered that he wanted something.  He strived to overcome obstacles that prevented him from having it until he achieved the goal and lived happily even after.

The reason I say “virtually every” story is that the pattern has been used for thousands of years and some writers seek to do something a little different by deviating from the pattern.  They tell stories about a person who wanders about aimlessly, or who abandons their goal, or for whom the achievement of the goal does not produce happiness.   While such accounts can have novelty appeal, they are not very satisfying to the audience.  They may hold attention and seem a bit unusual, but there is generally a sense of disappointment when the “story” comes to a weak ending.

Since our goal is to satisfy rather than disappoint the customer, the deviations will be set aside to focus on the basic, successful, and satisfying pattern.  This pattern is generally successful if it is well executed; and good execution requires attention to details, particularly the ones highlighted above.

There Was a Person

First of all, a story is about a person, called “the protagonist” in literary terms.    Granted, in the age of mass markets we generally seek to serve a mass of customers, but even then we analyze the market, determine what kind of person we are marketing, and devise a persona so that we can understand the customer and consider common qualities that enable us to serve many people as if they were a single person.

Importance and value are significant qualities of a good protagonist.  As far back as Aristotle, it was recognized that stories about people who were unimportant and unlikable were generally unsuccessful.   You have to care about the protagonist to care what happens to him, just as you have to care about the customer in order to be diligent and attentive in designing to serve his needs.

Most stories start with at least a little background information about the protagonist so that the audience comes to know him, to understand his motivations, and to be favorably disposed toward him.  And again, the same is true of design strategies: the more you know about someone, the more effective you can be in designing for them because you understand and respect them.

So when writing your customer story, begin with a description of customer you are serving – which is generally the person who purchases and uses the good or service (though sometimes, those are two different people).  Be as specific and detailed as necessary to present a complete picture of someone who is worthy of being served by your effort.

Life was going along very well

The “real” action of a story doesn’t begin until something interesting happens, but it is a mistake to attempt to start the story at that very moment because the audience doesn’t know the character (as mentioned in the previous section) or his situation.   This part of the story, called “exposition” is generally done in the first chapter – though sometimes it is disclosed to the audience later in the story, that always seems contrived, as if the writer forgot to do it and is making up details as he goes along.

And so, a story begins before things go awry, as knowing what the protagonist’s life is like before the action begins is necessary to understand the goals of the character.  This is particularly true of disaster stories, where the entire point of the story is to restore the happy life that the protagonist had before something went wrong.   In order for the audience to see restoring the status quo as a worthy goal, they must know what the “status quo” actually is.   But it is also true of growth stories, in which the point of the story is to achieve something, because appreciating the change means comparing the final situation to that which existed before the change was made.

The exposition answers many questions that will distract the audience later.  If you tell the story about someone travelling through the wilderness, the audience wants to know why they are making such an arduous journey.   They will interrupt the story to ask this question, and lose interest if they do not receive a satisfactory answer – so while it can be argued that exposition is just “fluff,” it is the kind of detail that makes a story interesting and compelling, and helps the audience to accept that what the author describes is both necessary and plausible.

When writing customer stories, consider the exposition as part of the profile so that the “why” is clear to the audience.   If your customer’s task is to buy a good or use a service, it’s important to know the reason, given their situation, that the purchase is necessary as well as to consider whether there might be a better way to accomplish their goal.   It is often in considering these alternate methods and imagining better ways that innovative solutions are discovered.

Discovered that he wanted something

The is moment at which the drama of the story begins: the protagonist recognizes that something is wrong or lacking with his current situation, and that he must undertake some action to rectify this problem to restore or improve the status quo.   Called the “inciting incident,” the recognition of the difference between the present situation and the desired state must cause the protagonist sufficient irritation that he is incited to action.

The irritation factor is significant to the story.  A screwball comedy might tell the story of a protagonist who goes to inordinate lengths to swat a fly, and the humor is from the recognition that his problem is small and the effort he undertakes is grossly disproportionate, but most serious stories are about people with serious problems that merit the level of effort they must expend to solve them.

Ideally, the protagonist knows exactly what must be done and has the resources to perform the necessary actions – but in many stories the protagonist must undertake a quest of discovery to learn how to solve his problem, then another quest to get some item he needs to do the job.   This is common in novels and sagas, as having prerequisites to action helps to make the story longer and keeps the audience engaged in these mini-plots that take place before the main line of the story can be pursued.

When writing customer stories, consider the inciting incident.  At what exact moment does your customer discover his need?  Does he know what is necessary and does he have the means to do it?   Does he consider solving the problem to be worth the cost (money and effort) to solve it?   Each of these questions must be satisfactorily answered to have a compelling story – and to avoid writing a story that fizzles because the customer later discovers he is on the wrong path or lacks the necessary resources to solve his problem.

Strived to overcome obstacles

Conflict is what makes stories dramatic, and this conflict primarily arises from discovering and struggling to overcome obstacles that occur while the protagonist is attempting to solve his problem.   Called the “rising action,” this sequence of events often involves a number of failed attempts and setbacks before success is finally achieved.

If the story is engaging, each failure or setback brings the protagonist a little closer to the goal, or builds the emotional tension as he becomes more passionate about the task because of the resistance he encounters.  Any setback or failure that does not provide at least a little progress becomes “fluff,” an interesting side-trip that is essentially unnecessary and is likely to be cut out by a good editor.

While a good story involves a sequence of obstacles, a good customer experience attempts to solve a problem with as little effort as possible and there are no unexpected obstacles that arise.  In marketing terms, a simple story with an easy solution describes the qualities of a generic mass-market product.  The more obstacles a customer faces, the greater his need for a specialized product that is differentiated, hence the greater opportunity to gain competitive advantage by providing a product that is designed to overcome obstacles that a generic product does not – resulting in a smaller number of customers who will pay more for the product and become more loyal to the brand.

Where the obstacles are arbitrary and setbacks seem to pop up out of nowhere, the story seems contrived and the audience is disappointed at the teller’s lack of imagination.  Good obstacles arise out of the character and the situation, and make the story more compelling.   Audiences are far more captivated by the story of a character with some physical impediment accomplishing something that their impediment would seem to make impossible (a person born without hands becoming a sculptor) or whose situation makes a the problem more difficult to solve (fetching a drink of water at a lake is less interesting than fetching water in the desert).

When writing customer stories, consider the obstacles that the customer might face in completing a task.  If the course of action is simple, then so should be the solution – and in fact there is likely already a product available to solve it.   Also consider what obstacles might arise along the way as well as any special needs that might exist because of the limitations of the customer or his situation.

He achieved the goal

A story reaches its apex at the moment in which the main character takes the action that resolves the conflict, achieves their objective, and establishes themselves in the new and better situation that they had hoped to achieve.  It is the reason that the story exists, and the reason that the audience has given it any attention.

However, the climax of the story is given far too much attention, and is often stressed to the detriment of the other parts of the plot.  A well-conceived climax has little power if the audience does not understand and sympathize with a character and is not emotionally engaged in the drama of the story, nor if the climax fails to produce a satisfactory resolution.  It is a critical moment, but it must work in the context of the rest of the story: a poorly told story with a dramatic climax is still a poorly told story.

Another common problem with climactic moments is that they are often unsatisfactory: the action that is taken, which the author means to be the resolution of the crisis, is not something that actually resolves the crisis.  When the dragon is slain, the village still remains a charred ruin – its death ensures that the village will not be attacked again, but the villagers are still left with a significant problem: their crops and homes are destroyed and winter is still coming.

It probably is not necessary to suggest that it’s important to have a clear and well-defined climax when writing customer stories – as it’s well known that achieving the goal is what a story is all about.  But it is worth stressing that in order to be compelling and plausible, the peak of the story is supported by all the other factors, and must make sense in their context.   Very often, a writer’s revision process consists of fixing problems that are detrimental to the climax that is good unto itself but disappointing in context.

Lived happily ever after

A well-told story does not end the moment that the main objective is accomplished: the foe is vanquished, fade to black.   The audience must be satisfied that the climactic action actually resolved the problem or achieved the objective that the protagonist sought after.   The writer must provide an ending to the story, rather than leave the audience to “make up their own ending” – that is the hallmark of a weak storyteller who cannot craft a good ending for his story.

This part of the story, called the “denouement,” depicts the events that occur after the problem-solving action has taken place to prove that it was actually effective.   Going back to the previous example, this is why dragons have treasure-troves: when the beast is slain and the village is still in ruins, the hero brings home a huge pile of gold to buy provisions for the winter and rebuild what has been destroyed.

Particularly when marketing tells a story, it often ends with “and the customer bought our product,” because that is the moment that they get what they want (money) – but it is not the moment at which the customer gets what he wants, as he may have purchased a product that doesn’t really solve his problem.  And since the customer is (or ought to be) the hero of the story, the story fails: it seems pointless and futile.

When writing customer stories, don’t neglect the denouement. Refer back to the exposition and the problem that the protagonist was trying to solve.  Provide proof that it has actually been solved in a satisfactory manner, and show that the user did indeed live happily ever after for having undertaken his ordeal, made his purchase, and put the product to good use.   If the customer is not satisfied, he does not become an advocate and a regular customer, but instead becomes a disgruntled critic of the brand – and that story is a tragedy.


So there you have it, the structure and components of storytelling.  To make some practical use of this, simply apply it to your customers’ situation.   Seek to learn about who they are and how they live, when they might discover problems for which your product may be a solution, understand what they might try to do to solve their problems, help them to discover and make use of your product to achieve a solution.

Unlike writing a fiction story, customer stories don’t require a fanciful imagination – in fact, fanciful imagination is often detrimental.  The details of your story should be drawn from marketing research, so that your story is a plausible account that people can believe in.   The stakeholders in your organization should say “this could possibly happen” and work to make it happen for the customer.   The customer should say “this could possibly happen to me” and work to emulate the hero of your story – who buys your product, solves his problem, and lives happily ever after.