I’m working with a client on creating a customer success story on one of its customers—a large, well-known resort. They need the story ASAP for a sales initiative, but the main contact to approve the story is on vacation for the next week. And when he signs off, the PR dept. still has to see it too…
The dilemma: what can they leverage of the customer’s story now?
Verbal, anecdotal details that don’t mention the customer by name are the perfect compromise.
I recall this is one of the key tips from Jill Konrath’s book, Selling to Big Companies. In voice mail or live conversations, she suggests referencing other successful customers to pique curiosity with prospects:
"In working with another firm like yours, we reduced space requirements by 10 percent, saving them over $500,000 on lease payments and reducing capital equipment expenditures by over $300,000." (p. 123)
While written case studies that name customers provide great validation and credibility, when you don’t have that final story approved, try talking about results anecdotally to get the attention of prospects.
I'm always on the lookout for examples of using customer stories creatively and with impact.
Acsys, Inc. achieves both on its Web site. The award-winning, full-service interactive agency provides strategy, branding, design, eMarketing, software development, and hosting services to companies like Swiss Army, Northrup Grumman and GE Capital.
On its home page, Acsys features a client very prominently as the "lead" for the entire page--with the highlighted customer changing each time you visit. It displays the featured client's logo or related image hugely across much of the length of the page--a giant Swiss Army knife, a big, bold Timex watch, and a massive molecule for a chemical company.
Then a prominent headline hints at the idea behind the client's story, before giving you a chance to read the full case study.
It's attractive and engaging, and client results are clearly the focus on the home page and throughout the site as Acsys describes its services. It's kind of unorthodox, but it succeeds in associating Acsys with each client's success.
Sure, Acsys is a design, branding and eMarketing firm, so it's very visually oriented. But any company can feature its customer results and success in this way.
Check it out and be inspired. And please send me your own favorite examples of creative uses of customer case studies and success stories!
It's Valentine's week, so there's no better time to talk about sharing the love with customers.
A blog post by Brian Solis, Transforming Customers into Evangelists: The Art of Listening and Engagement, was recently inspired by Brian's workshop at the "Customer Service is the New Marketing" event.
He talks about empowering customers to become an extension of your sales and marketing, and the importance of partnering with customers for mutual success.
"This is about people and engaging them as people, evolving from an approach that connects faceless companies to anonymous customers. Let's humanize the entire process to not just keep customers happy, but also cultivating loyalty along the way," he writes.
And customer success stories and case studies are certainly a part of that:
"Most importantly, make sure that you integrate customer success stories into your PR and marketing initiatives. Feature them on your blog. Invite them to events. Partner with them to be proactive voices to help rally other customers. After all, customers are the very thing that keep you in business. Show them that you know this by reaching out to them, not just waiting for them to come to you."
This question has come up a couple of times lately in working with clients...
How much should customer case studies and success stories talk about reseller partners?
On the one hand, companies that sell their products through partners want to give those partners credit for implementing solutions and adding value to the customer experience. On the other hand, a customer story that mentions one partner too heavily isn't as valuable to the entire channel and sales force. But one that mentions the partner too little isn't as effective for the featured partner.
I like how LANDesk solves this problem. The company creates two versions of each customer success story it creates:
1- A version without any mention of the partner in the story that goes on the Web site and is used in general sales opportunities.
2- A second version with a blurb about the partner at the end for that specific partner to use.
Other organizations take it a step further on partner-mention case studies and success stories by adding a bit of description (a paragraph or two) about the role the partner played in the project.
This approach meets the needs of all. The entire partner channel and sales force have the general stories they need to support sales, while partners also have materials branded with their information.
If customer stories are more customized to partners, it just might help increase partner participation in your customer story program as well.