One of the most important tips I received as a young marketer was, “Remember, good messages are about your customer, not about you.” The same is true for stories. Sure, you should understand and be able to tell the story of your brand, but that’s far less interesting than the stories of customers. People considering your offer want to know that it has worked for others who are similar to them. It’s telling these stories in a compelling way that will capture the attention of the market. Here are a few ways to get your stories out there.
Journalists get pitches from brands talking about themselves all of the time, but most are not interested in becoming your channel for free advertising. They are, on the other hand, very interested in sharing interesting accounts of how businesses or consumers have overcome challenges or achieved greater success. In order to increase the effectiveness of your pitches, consider including case studies, customer quotes, images or other material to enhance the narrative. Whenever possible, offer to let writers speak directly with clients. Having your customer story told by a third party boosts your credibility and helps get your brand in front of a larger audience.
Case studies are an excellent asset to deploy at the right moment in the buyer’s journey. However, they can easily become dull rehashes of your product data sheet. Make sure to include the narrative elements necessary to a good story; a description of the before state and what caused the customer to seek change, the specifics of the solution they decided to deploy, the results of that decision. Case studies work best when they focus as much on the why and the how as the what. They are also more convincing when they include details and specifics. “I saved $4,000 a year,” is more persuasive than, “I cut my cost.”
Video testimonials and customer stories are uniquely well-suited to creating a personal connection. They can sometimes be used to actually show the impact of the customer’s relationship with your brand. They highlight that there are real people, just like your prospect, benefiting from your products and services. Not everyone likes video content, however, and visitors on mobile devices may not want to play sound, so you should be sure to accompany your video content with a transcript whenever possible.
It is really exciting when your customers tell the story of their interaction with their brand in their own words and to their own audience. Encouraging your customer to talk about their experience on their social channels and yours is a powerful way to amplify your message. Not only is social media a great way to share customer stories, it is also the perfect tool for finding them. Every positive mention of your brand(and sometimes negative ones too) is an opportunity to learn more about your buyer and dig deeper to see if there is more to the narrative.
The great news is that one story can be used in each of these ways. In an interview with Forbes, Geoffrey Berwind, a professional Storytelling Consultant and Trainer, summed up the importance of stories this way, “Stories powerfully connect us to our listeners. When we share our own real-life stories or the stories of others our audiences feel that they get to know us as authentic people – people who have lives outside the corporate setting, people who have struggled with problems and who have figured out how to overcome them.”