Prospects today want to know that people or organizations just like them are solving similar challenges with your products and services. You need example stories in your back pocket for every situation.
That means creating cases for all your key sales situations. That can be by product/service, way the product or service is used, geographic location, industry, etc.
A client I’m working with has several great examples of product use, but they all fall under the same umbrella. Creating 4 or 5 separate case studies that all reinforce the exact message didn’t seem like the best use of resources for this company.
Instead, we decided to create one longer case study that references several anecdotes. Here’s how this will work in this case:
- 4-page case study on one theme, reducing operator error on machines with remote monitoring software
- Anonymous story that does not mention actual customer names
- The story highlights the needs and challenges of this customer group as a whole
- We show 4 anecdotes or examples of how the software allowed customers to reduce operator error, giving each a few paragraphs
All the examples tie back to the same theme, truly reinforcing the message and making the case. Because the case is so detailed, it has credibility even though the customer is not named.
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This is just another example of the importance of mapping case studies to specific sales needs. You have to fit the case to the sales need, rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach.
It’s one of the 9 tips I cover in my new half-hour audio class, "9 Insider Tips from 10 Years Crafting Customer Stories."
Nearly every business has happy customers, but often they don't know how to truly leverage that asset - beyond just creating a success story or case study.
I particularly like her suggestion to create a "reference pack" with a case study, press release, podcast, video and PowerPoint slide on a customer's success. That arms sales reps with a complete set of content about a happy customer to use in any situation.
For many companies, the biggest challenge in creating customer case studies and success stories is getting customers to agree to be featured.
I've often found the customer's PR team is the most valuable ally in the whole process. Here's why:
- It's PR's job to help secure positive coverage/exposure. When you come to your customer's PR group with a promotional opportunity such as a case study, it's a chance for exposure that will involve very little of the customer's PR group's time.
- PR can help push the story through other channels at the customer's organization, such as legal.
- Your customer's PR group also knows what messages the company wants to reinforce publicly, and can communicate that upfront.
- The PR team will ultimately have to review the story anyway, so why not involve them upfront?
From the start, just make sure that you communicate to the customer's PR group that...
...a customer story is a joint promotional opportunity
...you are interested in weaving in your customer's key messages also
...that your company will be using this throughout sales, marketing and PR, for maximum impact
Do you have any tips or success stories from working with a client's PR team on case studies or success stories? If so, please share!
I got to thinking during a jog this morning. With the presidential campaigns fighting for voters, how can stories actually change minds - minds that have been years in the making?
It's not like changing someone's mind about a product. In politics, opinions and feelings are deeply entrenched. People don't usually feel quite so passionate about their ERP software or network router.
Everyone is brought up differently, comes from places with varying issues, and has different life experiences. Those become the filters through which each person sees the world.
With years shaping those filters, how can a campaign actually shift a person's perspective enough to change their mind?
In this case, stories are powerful, but it has to be the right story at the right time - just like every other use of stories in sales, marketing and PR. The story that a voter needs to hear is one that matches up with his or her life in some way.
The story of the family spending $200 more a month on gas resonates with a segment facing the same issue, while the story of a business owner without affordable health insurance aligns with another.
With so many issues, how can the candidates possibly tell enough stories and get people to listen long enough to change minds?
Maybe I'm wrong and stories just can't change the world. What do you think? (Let's keep the discussion about "changing minds with story" rather than getting partisan. Thanks!)
About a year ago, I learned about Kiva.org, a nonprofit that facilitates micro-lending for entrepreneurs in the developing world.
Kiva empowers businesses and individuals to loan money in increments as small as $25 directly to entrepreneurs in need around the world, and the connections between people are totally story-driven.
Lenders can peruse a database of business owners across dozens of countries, and read stories and view snapshots of each. The stories shed light on each entrepreneur's business, family life, challenges, and how they plan to use the loan.
That element of story is central to the entire Kiva concept, such that, it's nearly impossible to imagine the nonprofit working without stories. It's very similar to Save the Children.
I checked out the site and quickly found two entrepreneurs whose stories moved me, one in Tajikistan and another in Sierra Leone.
Nonprofits often tell stories tied to their causes, but then ask for general support, not support that will benefit a specific person or business.
Kiva puts a face and story on each need, and puts lenders in control of who they want to support. It connects people on an individual level.
To date, Kiva has lent $42,802,810 to entrepreneurs through 335,241 lenders.
Stories don't just sell; they inspire!