It’s back to blogging after the long Thanksgiving weekend!
While traveling, I had the chance to read Michael Margolis’ new book, Believe Me: A Storytelling Manifesto for Changemakers and Innovators.
Margolis, a storytelling visionary and president of Get Storied, presents 15 storytelling axioms, along with commentary and quotes from luminaries, including Barack Obama, Seth Godin, and Gloria Steinem.
Believe Me highlights why and how storytelling can help you get others to believe in your product, service, idea or cause. It’s an inspiring, big-picture commentary on the use of story in business.
Here’s my take on how some of Believe Me‘s acxioms apply to Success-Story Marketing – marketing with your customers’ stories:
1. Sell an experience.
"People don’t really buy a product, solution or idea. They buy the story that’s attached to it," Margolis says.
In reality, you’re selling an experience. Success stories and case studies on happy customers convey an expected experience to a prospective buyer.
2. Create value for intangibles.
"Stories are the most direct path to harnessing, managing and communicating the value of your intangibles."
If you’re selling something that prospects can’t see or touch, like consulting services or enterprise software, frame your intangibles in the context of a customer’s story in order to create value in the solution.
3. Storytellers – take your job seriously.
"It’s your job as storyteller to decide what part of the experience belongs on the cutting-room floow – without losing the integrity of the message."
You gather a lot of information for customer stories. At the outset, know the goal of any story and make choices that reinforce that goal.
4. Meet prospects where they’re at.
"Your story needs to speak to your audience’s hearts, interests and world view."
We all crave stories that fit with our beliefs.
If you’re trying to change someone’s mind with a story, "find something everyone can agree on."
In a case study, that means recognizing and addressing the audience’s top concerns and needs, and building the story from that standpoint – instead of just telling someone they need to change.
5. Include past, present and future.
"Your audience will experience emotional dissonance unless you can offer the logical stepping stones for them to find their way into the new story."
Customer case studies usually address challenges, solutions and results for specific reasons.
That’s because it’s important to show the evolution of the customer’s path so that buyers see continuity from where they are now and where they’re going.
Pick up more storytelling tips and inspiration in Believe Me.
In just the past six months, marketers have really begun embracing social media. They're blogging, building Facebook fans and Tweeting.
Yet, much of it is still experimentation.
The question is, how do you get people to link to the content on your site from social media venues?
Case studies are a top draw for technology buyers, but mostly linked from blogs and wikis versus other social media, according to a recent report from IDG Knowledge Hub.
The report, Social Media and the IT Investment Process: Linking Social Conversations to Content, includes findings from a survey of 100 information technology buying team members regarding the links they most want to see.
According to the report, the wrong content types can be worse than none at all.
"Over 40% of social media participants are interested in pursuing links to vendor-generated content...Winners' will be vendors that build a relevant content bridge to draw the conversation towards their own hosted platforms and insight."
The report points out that preferences vary by investment type, buying role and the type of business impact (technical, financial, business impact).
Here are the top three preferred content items for various social media tools:
Case study, advertisement, tutorial/how-to
Tutorial/how-to, free-event registration, evaluation version
Free-event registration, ROI calculator, presentation
Advertisement, technical knowledgebase, free-event registration
Free-event registration, advertisement, ROI calculator
Tutorial/how-to, technical white paper, case study
Do you track your content consumption by incoming links? What are you seeing in terms of linkage from social media?
When I hear a good success story, I want to share it. And this time, it's about my website.
I'm a small business.
As other small biz owners out there can likely attest, often the key to sanity (and profitability) is knowing what to do in house and what to hire out.
Minor updates or changes to my website definitely fall into the in-house category. I want the flexibility to make changes fast and without fees here and there.
Now I can. The "how" is what's interesting.
Evo created the award-winning Evo4 CMS WordPress theme platform.
The move immediately gave me two huge benefits:
- Allows me to change content dynamically
- Boosts my site traffic
I should have done this sooner! Here's why:
Search engines love change
If you blog, then you know how easy it is to publish content up on the web immediately.
Now, the same goes for my website. It's about the easiest and cheapest content management system I could have.
Not only is my blog integrated right into my site (so blog readers see site navigation), but I can change ALL the other content on there easily - add new articles, update event dates, put up a press release.
As Ray says, "blogs are search engine magnets," with frequently updated, relevant content, so a blog platform naturally gives the site a traffic edge.
200+ percent more traffic
With the move, my blog now lives on my main book website, so anyone visiting the blog may browse the rest of the site.
That alone raised my site traffic more than 200 percent in the weeks following the change.
Moving forward, my site's traffic should continue increasing because of the search engine effects of regularly changing content.
I didn't realize the power of dynamic content until now.
Want to know more?
I'm always on the lookout for stellar examples of customer case studies and success stories.
When the ClickInsights blog asked me and four others to answer the question, "What's your most favorite case study?" I was eager to share, and see the cases that others named as well.
In the post, five professionals experienced with case studies name their favorites and explain why.
How about nominating your favorite case study here?
On most business websites, you have to dig to find a single story.
If you do find any, it's usually after you've waded through levels of capabilities copy and promises.
So separate company sites that are dedicated solely to stories are refreshing. They get it.
The latest to come to my attention is The Ford Story.
American car makers have had one of the roughest years ever. But Ford has been surprisingly successful ($997 million profit in JUST this past quarter) and is making sure it tells its best stories.
The online Ford Story website tells internal Ford stories, such as what's going on in R&D. But it mostly showcases customer success stories.
- 15-second commercial spots featuring real drivers talking about what they like most about their cars
- A video story about how Ford Focus owners soup up their cars
- Articles on Ford's current initiatives in areas such as energy efficiency
- A feature on how firefighters drive Ford trucks
- Interesting, self-submitted customer success stories with photos
- The latest posts in the company's Twitter stream
A large "Submit Your Stories" box encourages customers to share written versions of their stories in under 500 words, and add photos and videos.
Ford also enables comments on all its content, encouraging interaction.
Why a unique niche site? Almost like an online magazine, it allows a company to separate the story from the product/service facts and promises. In doing so, that story stands out more.
That's not to say that your main site shouldn't include success stories. But niche sites help give extra attention to specific messages you want to reinforce.
Check it out. It's an engaging site, even if you're not in the market for a car.
What do you think about this separate site approach?