I recently learned personally just how important details are in marketing and sales.
Preparing to move to Boulder, CO, I’ve been looking at housing online. I found I was much more interested in the houses that listed lots of detail, that seemingly answered every question I have without having to call an agent with all those questions.
When it came time to advertise my current house for rent, I applied that experience to creating a very detailed ad – much more detailed than other listings on sites like Craig’s List. It paid off. I got 15 calls in 24 hours, with at least two people commenting that they appreciated the amount of detail in my listing.
This points to one of the main reasons why case studies are so effective – details sell. When people are considering a purchase, they want as many details as you can give them. That’s why customer stories (case studies or success stories) work. By showing buyers another customer’s experience, buyers can more easily envision themselves using and benefiting from your products or services.
So, whether you’re selling software, professional services or a house, give your audience the details they desire. Just make sure you know which details your buyers want, and deliver them.
I was reminded again today just how important it is to have a written set of interview questions saved for each product/service I develop customer stories for.
A hospital contact needs to get permission from his boss before we can move ahead with featuring the facility in a case study for using certain software. He asked me to send him the case study interview questions as a way of making the decision. In seconds, I hit "send" and they were off to the contact. I was in the middle of writing a completely different project and I didn't need to shift gears and come up with questions.
End customers often want to see interview questions. It's extremely helpful to create a master set for all the products and services you interview on - so they're always ready to go. Then you can always customize each interview a bit depending on the customer.
I've long thought that nonprofits/causes should tell more of their success stories as they pursue donors, sponsors, grants, volunteers, etc.
Kivi Leroux Miller wrote a great post this week, "Five Questions Nonprofits Should Answer with Stories."
She points out the variety of stories organizations should tell - beyond just the typical stories about the people the nonprofit helped. Tell the actual stories of donors, sponsors and volunteers so that new donors, sponsors and volunteers know why others are involved and how they benefit.
I'm back after a refreshing little break and am ready to talk customer stories!
Recently, I've been thinking about the ways that you can "end" a customer story. There's no real right or wrong way, as long as it doesn't stop abruptly.
As a former journalist, I tend to conclude my stories with a strong summation quote. That's pretty common in news and feature writing. Instead of my trying to write a summation, I let the main source/customer contact say it instead. But some of my clients prefer an actual wrap-up sentence.
With that in mind, here are three main ways you can end a story:
Quote - It should be powerful and really speak to the benefit the customer experienced.
Wrap-up - Summarize the main idea/benefit of the story, perhaps tying it back to the customer's earlier stated goals.
Look-ahead - It's also nice to conclude by talking about next steps or future plans the customer has to do more with the product or service in its environment.
Are there other ways you have found to conclude a customer story smoothly? Which approach do you typically prefer?
One of Seth Godin's blog posts today had a really insightful observation about stories in business. We're not talking specifically about customer stories here, but about what you want the story of your business, brand or project to be.
He suggests deciding what you want that story to be beforehand and then matching your work to fit that story.
He says, "The story creates the work and the work creates the story."
Cool way to look at it. Check it out.