The typical ghost story begins, "It was a dark and stormy night…" While it’s now become cliche, it’s a good lead sentence because you want to know more. The scene has been set, encouraging the reader or listener to continue.
The same goes for the lead on a customer success story or case study. How you open your story either grasps the reader right there, or loses him/her.
That’s why I encourage writers and companies to move "About" sections to the end of customer stories and begin with engaging copy from the first sentence. It’s no different than reading a feature story in a magazine or newspaper.
Here are a few of my own favorite leads from customer stories. I’d love to hear some of yours.
Tennessee is more than 600 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. But as far as HR Widget Company was concerned, the Chattanooga-based company’s HR department was struggling to navigate a phenomenon it called, "The Bermuda Triangle."
For a few weeks out of the year, Bob Smith’s job keeps him up at night.
NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens uses it, as does former Boston Marathon winner and current running coach Alberto Salazar.From pro sports teams to college athletics to children and adults with injuries or disabilities, therapy pools have been the answer for low-impact training, and faster recovery and rehabilitation.
What are some of your favorite leads – either your own or those you’ve seen? Please share!
You can capture and leverage customer successes in dozens of different ways. Video testimonials are a nice complement to longer success stories and case studies.
Add video testimonials to gain attention and enhance credibility on your web site. Put them right on the home page. They pique interest and encourage visitors to learn more with other resources on your site.
I like the way Parature does this. The customer service software company features screen shots from video testimonials scrolling across the top of its home page. You can click on each one to hear what that person has to say.
Keep these sound bites short, and give visitors the option of watching more of an interview or reading the full story.
Jill Konrath's (author of Selling to Big Companies) blog post today drives home what you have to communiate when selling anything: stress results.
Statements about your company and what it does are NOT value propositions. Period. They are not value propositions.
If you want to get decision makers "at hello", you need to clearly articulate the results the customers can expect from using your product, service or solution. That's results, spelled
If you really want to "get them at hello," then make sure you:
Decision makers don't care about your products or services. They only care about the results they'll see. Stress that and you'll catch their attention. Omit those results and you've lost them.
Refer to actual client successes and include measures or statistics. Success stories from other companies in their industry are especially compelling. By giving specific examples, you really pique their curiosity.
When selling, don't just use a case study in a packet of collateral. Weave in salient results from other customers at every opportunity - in voice mail messages, emails, letters, and every conversation.
Have a great weekend!
While reading Fast Company magazine, I came across an AT&T ad featuring a customer success story. The ad's headline read "Chad Harris' Small Business Moment."
It went on to highlight, in a paragraph, how the business owner seized an opportunity with his smartphone and AT&T Small Business Solutions. He checked inventory, got pricing and submitted a bid - all from a remote jobsite - and won the job. The full-page ad also features what looks like a stone monument of Harris with his smartphone in one hand and a shovel in the other.
It's attractive and engaging - and a great example of using customer success stories in advertising. The ad encourages readers to read about more of these moments online.
In advertising, you can capture customer success stories in short snippets like this or in longer advertorials. But no matter which length you choose, it has to tell a story. AT&T succeeds in telling this story in 5 sentences.
I'm always on the lookout for great examples of using customer stories in sales, marketing and PR. Anytime you run across one, let me know!
Titles and headlines can make or break a marketing piece. It's the first thing a reader sees on a customer success story.
Admittedly, it's something I could use help with. I struggle with trying to pack too much into a short space.
So, I just signed up for a class offered by WhitePaperSource called "Writing Compelling Titles and Headlines." It's the first class I've seen that covers this exclusively, so there should be some great insight. And it's taught by an authority on headlines.
If you write regularly, you might want to check it out too.