Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The elements of an N-of-8® story

As I’ve often written in my articles, story development is deliberately interactive, allowing us to establish a dialogue with customers and hear it in their own words.

In my use of this qualitative, iterative N-of-8® process, we present three stories in customer listening groups of eight physicians. Customer response and participation is key in this process.

The stories are presented in raw, “unpackaged” format in order to gain the most valuable customer input. This means they are simply typed on a page – not an ad, brochure, or commercial.

Each story is divided into main components (headline, introduction, claim, call to action, etc.). They must be crafted as a narrative, not simply a recitation of bullets points. So there are the components of good stories: setting, characters, action, conflict, hero, resolution, and sometimes, even a moral.

Conflict is essential to these stories. Author Robert Penn Warren said, “No conflict, no story,” and my experience has led me to agree.

When, considering the angles for the three different stories, you make them deliberately distinct and appropriately provocative.

For example, for a new biologic treatment for a rare disease, you might begin with these three angles:

1. Patient Impact
Content: awareness of the disease, their feelings about it, and their current usage of treatments
Tone: emotional Voice: second person “you”
Reference: research data from patient organizations and disease societies
Close: you can count on us, so make Brand your preferred medication

2. Speed of Effect
Content: process of care, action of agent
Tone: urgency
Voice: third person “it”
Reference: cause of symptoms, mechanism of drug, dosing levels, clinical trial data
Close: what role could Brand play in helping you feel better faster?

3. Functional Living
Content: connect with condition and problems it causes, easy to understand how drug fits into lifestyle about it, and their current usage of treatments
Tone: authoritative Voice: first person “we”
Reference: ethnographic research of impact on activities of daily living
Close: treat at first sign of symptoms

I've doing many N-of-8® groups in the past few months, and have more planned in several countries this summer.

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