the complete guide to success story marketing

What Works in Customer Stories – Small Biz Using Direct Mail

Author: ; Published: Mar 27, 2009; Category: Uncategorized; Tags: None; No Comments

direct mail

I’ve talked to a lot of companies that use customer stories. It’s especially exciting to see how small businesses get creative with their case studies and success stories.

I truly enjoyed interviewing Linda McCulloch of Design That Works for the book, Stories That Sell. For years, her marketing communications business has mailed postcards featuring its success stories.

Her latest version is slightly smaller than an 8.5 x 11 page, then folded over. When you open it, the top half talks about defining marketing success and has photos of project examples, and then the bottom shares an actual customer success and quote. It’s quick, colorful and interesting.

She’s had prospects call, ready to move ahead, after receiving her postcards. It’s Design That Works!

Check out the firm’s success-story direct mail at right.

Interview on Trends and Uses of Customer Stories

Author: ; Published: Mar 25, 2009; Category: Uncategorized; Tags: , , , , ; 4 Comments

Britton Manasco interviewed me for his blog, Illuminating the Future, on trends in and uses of customer stories. His thought-provoking questions delved deep into customer storytelling today.

New LinkedIn Group

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A new LinkedIn Group, Success-Story Marketing, serves as a forum for exchanging ideas and best practices on writing, managing and using customer success stories and case studies. Join us!

Cap Your Interviews with This Question

Author: ; Published: Mar 24, 2009; Category: Uncategorized; Tags: , , ; One Comment

apple pie

If you cook, you know that the ingredients matter. Use the highest-quality ingredients and the end product tastes better than it would with lesser-quality materials.

The same goes for a customer case study. The better the information you gather in the interview, the stronger the story.

That's why my interviews are typically very thorough. Yet still, at the end, I always ask one question to make sure that I haven't missed anything.

"Is there anything else that you would like to add that we haven't talked about?"

It's the catch-all question to make sure that no stone has gone unturned.

About 50 percent of the time, the person will mention something else, or cap our conversation with an excellent summary quote. No matter how thorough the interview, there's always a chance the customer might add a final thought, which will make your story even stronger.

Are you asking the questions that will yield a 5-star case study or success story? Learn more about interviewing and writing cases that get results in the upcoming teleclass, "Writing a Compelling Case Study - Start to Finish."

Give Away Your Story!

Author: ; Published: Mar 19, 2009; Category: Uncategorized; Tags: None; One Comment

I'm all for using stories to connect with audiences in direct marketing. So I was pleased to see a "case study" email land in my inbox from a vendor.

The email teased the customer's story and then displayed a prominent link to "Download Now." That's where the momentum - and I - stopped.

When I took the link, a page asked me to fill out 12 fields with my name, contact info and various qualifying information.

Wait. I just want to read the case study. It's too soon to enter into a relationship by providing so much information.

Moreover, I believe that vendors should give case studies and success stories to prospects for free (without asking for info). I know that companies are trying to collect leads, but case studies are not best vehicle for that. They're innately a feature story about the product or service's success, not like a research report or white paper.

Since case studies do capture the attention of busy prospects, perhaps bring them back to a page with the full case study with offers along the side to download a white paper or report, subscribe to a newsletter or blog. Then you can continue the conversation, if the person chooses.

If anyone out there has seen success with case study-for-contact-info usage in lead gen, please let me know. Any other ideas for using case studies in early parts of the sales cycle?

Speeding Up Customer Story Approval – One Thing You Can Do

Author: ; Published: Mar 17, 2009; Category: Uncategorized; Tags: None; One Comment

Responsiveness is an important part of all our business and personal relationships and interactions.

When you ask for extra mayonnaise at a restaurant, you want it right away.

When you send a coworker or colleague a meeting request, you expect a timely response.

And when you call a friend about getting together, you anticipate they will call back soon.

It's about mutual respect. And one person's level of response often mirrors the other.

The same goes for the customer review and approval phase of a case study or success story project. The amount of time that it takes a customer to get back with feedback is always an unknown part of the project.

One way to encourage a timely customer turnaround - deliver the story to the customer without delay.

After you interview a customer, the customer expects to see that story soon. If writing and internal (vendor) review take weeks or months, the customer gets the impression that their story isn't that important to you.

If you're not moving on it quickly, then when you DO deliver the story, the customer will very likely MIRROR your slow behavior.

I've seen it happen again and again. A vendor takes 2 months to review the story and then the customer takes as least that long to look at it.

Here are a couple of tips to help expedite internal review in order to be responsive in delivering stories to customers:

  • Minimize the number of people who review the story internally. Max this at 3 people, or fewer if necessary. Pick 1-2 people who can truly review with an eye toward company messaging and value of the story for sales and marketing uses.
  • Make sure internal reviewers are on board and ready for review before starting a case. If someone will be out on vacation or tied up on other priorities, then it's not fair to the participating customer.

One client of mine is particularly cognizant of this. She says that getting product managers and others lined up to make a case study a priority contributes to her approval success.

It doesn't guarantee a quick customer response, but it helps.

Two more reasons to hurry in getting a story to customers: (1) the customer contact may leave, or (2) something could happen in the meantime that affects the customer's happiness level.

Be responsive and respectful - don't delay!