How Storytelling Can Help You Understand Your Customers

How well do you know your customers? You may have some idea – you know the demographic you’re looking to reach or where they life. But do you really know them on an intimate? In this week’s blog, I’m going to show you how authors develop their characters, and how you can be inspired by their techniques to create content that really speaks to those customers.

Authors know everything about their characters. They don’t include all those details in their stories, but they know about every aspects of their characters’ lives. That’s what helps them create a character that’s realistic and believable as a human being. They create a character sketch of their characters. It’s like a profile, a life story of a character created using various headings.

For you as a business owner, a character sketch is a great way to get to know your customers. You’d create a character sketch based on a particular customer who represents your target market. They could be a real person or someone you’d make up. The idea is that you can visualise this customer every time you write content and you can write your content for them. This allows you to create content with a friendly, intimate tone, helping your customers to feel like you’re a wise friend who understands your problems and can help them improve their lives.

So, how do you create a character sketch?

Basic Character Details

Let’s start with the basics. Give them a name and age. You can just choose a random name, but giving your customer a name makes it easier for you to imagine them as a person. Knowing their age is very useful. It helps you imagine them as a person. You can call them by that name when you’re writing your content and that’ll help you imagine you’re addressing what you say to them.

Here’s Maurice Murgatroyd, the star of my content creation course. I ask participants to practise their character creation skills on him. The results are interesting.

This is a charcoal type sketch of an old, grumpy looking mad with a pointy beard and a long face. He’s bald with spots on his head.

Another good way of visualising your customer is to find a profile picture of a person that represents your customer. You can download a stock picture from the internet and stick that photo up on a wall so you can see the customer in your mind when you’re writing your content. Or you can add a picture to the written details on your customer profile.

Life Details

This section of the character sketch is about a customer’s life circumstances. These are the circumstances that help shape their purchasing behaviour. Knowing their educational background and job will give you an idea of the income they have available to spend. Their family circumstances will determine what products and services they’ll buy. People with children will want to buy family-friendly products, while single people may want to buy high-end products to treat themselves with. Even a customer’s hobbies will shape their buying habits, as they’ll need to buy products that help them take part in their hobby.

Buying Habits

There are a few ingredients that will differentiate your character sketch from an author’s one. Where authors will identify their character’s secret power, or secret from their past, you’re identifying their purchasing power, or the ways they decide to purchase. One of the ways that people decide on their purchases is through the media. Increasingly, this means social media. If you know what media your target audience consumes, you can follow them onto those media platforms and communicate with them there. If you know where they shop, you know what types of shops they favour and what they buy when they’re in those shops. You can then appeal to customers whose consumer habits match the types of offerings you have.

Solving Their Problems

Your customers are coming to you because they have a problem they hope you can solve. This needn’t be a big problem. It could just be something they’re missing, a need that isn’t being met. The most important part of your character sketch is the section about the problem your customer would like solved. If you know what that problem is, you can create content that shows them how you solve that problem. They’ll then trust you to solve that problem, and they’ll buy from you.

How Character Sketches Help You Reach Your Customers

So, what’s the benefit of doing this character sketch? The isn’t a tangible result as such, but there is a result just the same. The character sketch helps you keep focused on your customers’ needs when you’re creating your content. When customers are reading your content, you want them to feel that they’re sitting across the table, having a coffee with you, and you understand where they’re coming from. And with that content, you can show them that they can trust you to help them improve their lives.

If you like the idea of character-driven content and you’d like me to help you create some, please give me (Derbhile) a call on 0876959799.

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Want To Try An Online Writing Course?

In the past, I’ve found myself in the disappointing position of having to tell people that I don’t have enough numbers for my creative writing courses. But now that disappointment is behind me, thanks to something I never would have considered before – an online creative writing course.

I thought organising an online writing course would be beyond a technophobe like me, that I would need fancy equipment and high-level editing skills. Then the pandemic came and I found myself giving creative writing classes to two boys via WhatsApp. And I realised I could offer online classes to others, using whatever medium they’re comfortable with.

Rows of square pictures of people taking part in a Zoom writing class. From Gotham Writers.

You would think that online creative writing courses would feel remote and stilted but they’re actually not. My own writers’ group has transferred well onto Zoom. And it didn’t knock a feather out of the boys. They’re so used to talking to people via a video screen already.

Of course there’s no substitute for the real thing, but the advantage of an online course is the level of attention I can give to the people who attend. That allows me to create a personal experience for them, even if they’re not in the room with me.

The online writing courses I’ll give will be in real time, so they’ll be interactive and you’ll feel as if you’re in the same room as the other participants.

So, here’s what I’m going to going to offer in terms of online creative writing courses.

I’ll have time to explore their writing challenges in depth and I can offer detailed feedback which will help them develop their stories. And because I have fewer overheads, I can run my writing courses at a more reasonable price.

Beginners’ Creative Writing for Adults

I’ll give six two-hour writing workshops via Zoom or whatever videoconferencing system you’re most comfortable using. Each class will cover a different creative writing technique, like language usage, character creation and managing points of view.

After the creative writing course is over, you’ll be asked to produce a piece of writing and you’ll receive individual feedback on it. The price of this course is €60 for six sessions, with a $5 discount if you pay for the classes in advance.

Children’s Writing Camps

Children are already used to learning online, as TV screens and computer screens have taken over from the classroom during the pandemic. I’ll do a five-day course for children aged 6-12, with a one-hour session each day.

These will be highly interactive sessions, and the children will travel through time, create their own worlds and bring objects to life. I’m widening the age range I work with two. The five sessions will cost €30, or €25 if you pay in advance.

One-To-One Coaching

This is ideal for people who have a specific idea for a writing project that they want to get off the ground. You’ll have your own exclusive mentoring session to help you develop your idea, whether it’s for a novel, a collection of short stories or a memoir.

I’ll give you tips for structuring your idea and you’ll also receive my tips in a report afterwards, so you won’t need to write like mad while you’re talking. You can also ask for advice if you’re in the middle of a project and you find yourself stuck. This service will cost €60, or €55 if you pay for it in advance.

You’ll find general information about my creative writing courses and my writing consultancy services on my website. If you’d like to chat to me directly about how these classes work, call me on 087 6959799 or email