I recently realized that I use Google on just about every case study or success story I write. The search engine becomes my "man behind the curtain," providing an answer to whatever my question may be.
No matter what you’re writing, details make it stronger. Vague generalities are simply less credible or memorable.
Sure, I have a LOT of other information for the story: from my client and its web site, from the interviewed customer and its web site, industry white papers or analyst reports, etc. But sometimes I don’t have the little details that make my angle more interesting.
Here’s an example. I just wrote a case study featuring a ski resort’s use of RFID technology. The angle was that this is one of the top resorts in the world, and they continue to invest in making the guest experience better.
The resort’s web site had some stats of its own, but not exactly what I was looking for to support the story.
I Googled my question and found the stats I needed from third-party publications.
For another case on how an engineering firm uses modeling software, I wanted info such as elevation, river locations, and the flood risks and volumes for South Carolina. Enter some keywords, and Google gave me exactly the right information.
On other case studies, I needed…the recent growth rate of a Phoenix suburb…who was president in 1795…and a better description of a manufacturing process.
I’ve come to rely on search engines so much that, I believe, my customer stories would simply not be as strong without them.
How about you? Any tools or sites your writing can’t live without?
We've heard it many times: people do business with people they like and trust.
Yet, businesses and information sources face what seems to be unprecedented levels of distrust. It's been waning over the past decade, but the 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer indicates a big dip in public trust in just the past year.
- 62% of 25-to-64-year-olds surveyed in 20 countries say they trust corporations less now than they did a year ago
- Trust in U.S. business is at 38%, down from 58% last year
- Trust in business magazines and stock or industry analyst reports is down from 57% to 44%, and 56% to 47% respectively
- Only 29% and 27% view information as credible when coming from a CEO or government official, declining from 36% and 32% last year
- 91% around the world indicated they bought a product or service from a company they trust, and 77% refused to buy a product or service from a distrusted company
- 60% of respondents said they need to hear information about a company three to five times before they believe it
The executive summary says, "The CEO should set forth the company's position, but then it must be echoed by others...including industry experts, academics and ordinary citizens."
In this "crisis of confidence," authentic customer stories serve as the voice of ordinary citizens, a credible source of information for buyers.
Those in the business of creating and managing customer stories must work to keep them credible. That means, don't overstate, inflate or misrepresent a customer's experience. Present an honest account and public trust should follow.
Ever wonder how buyers are researching solutions such as yours?
Google and TechTarget published the findings of their research project, How IT Pros Search Online During the Purchase Process, which reveals the mindset of the IT buyer in the context of their purchases.
- 84% said video case studies would be useful
- 90% use search on some level to find "white papers, case studies or success stories"
- 88% use technology vendor web sites on some level to find "white papers, case studies or success stories"
- The further along a prospect is in the sales process,the more likely they are to agree to provide their name and contact info in exchange for the chance to access info. They don't like providing that info early on.
It's incredibly valuable insight. Check out the rest of the survey to better understand how buyers are searching, what they search for, and during which stages of the purchase process - and plan your content strategy accordingly.
Want more insight on the ins and outs of customer stories? Jill Konrath interviewed me for her blog, "Customer Success Stories are Killer App for Salespeople."
Two resources this week to check out:
1. Free webinar - I'm the presenter on a free webinar tomorrow (Thursday, 1/22 at 4 EST) that covers some of the basics of customer stories: why they are powerful, ways to use them, tips for making them effective, and even a small business owner talking about how he uses case studies. Find more info and register here.
2. Guest blog post - Check out Jay Ehret's The Marketing Spot for simple steps in my guest blog post, "Seven Steps to Capturing Your Customer Stories."
The section they featured includes advice and interviews with Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, and Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.
RainToday is a membership site, however their content remains open to all for a short time. Check it out before it's gone!