This post was written by Casey Hibbard of compelling-cases.com and the original post can be viewed here.
A customer story is one of the most versatile and powerful types of promotional content any organization can create. Here are the top 25 ways you can use case studies or success stories—or summaries of them—to establish or reinforce credibility, educate audiences, and validate products, services and organizations.
Note: “Customer stories” refers to customer case studies or success stories.
- Web sites – Tease and link to customer stories right from the home page, and include customer stories with all relevant product and service pages.
- Newsletters – Run customer stories in newsletters that go to customers, employees and partners.
- Direct marketing – Highlight a customer success in a mailer to prospects and customers, either a full story or overview.
- Case-study booklets – Create booklets that highlight several of your key customer stories.
- Email – Capture the attention of prospects or customers by using a compelling customer story in an email campaign or to a single contact.
- Advertising – Showcase a customer success in an ad run in a key industry publication or web site.
- Webinars – Invite a successful customer to present its story on a webinar for prospects or customers.
- Events – Invite customers to tell their story at industry conferences or other events.
- Training sales reps – Integrate customer successes into sales training to educate and excite them about the value that products and services deliver for customers. Then make sure those sales reps are armed with those same stories.
- Examples in PowerPoint presentations – Add slides into sales presentations that showcase a couple of customer successes.
- Sales letters – Get the attention of busy prospects by kicking off a sales letter with a compelling customer story.
- Sales conversations – People immediately respond when someone starts telling a story. Engage prospects in live or phone conversations with a relevant example of a successful customer.
- Voice mail – Mention a customer success, preferably with a specific measurable result, in a voice mail to a prospect. Mention another key result in the next voice mail.
- Proposals – Include a couple of customer stories in a proposal for new business.
- Venture-capital proposals/presentations – Do the same when making your case for investment capital or loans.
- Press releases – Catch the attention of busy editors with a “story press release,” one that highlights the success of a specific customer.
- Pitching stories to the media – Send a short pitch to a targeted media contact with a compelling customer success story as the angle.
- Contributed articles – Submit an article featuring a customer success (written by the vendor company or customer) to a publication or website targeted your audience.
- Industry awards submissions – Include full or summarized customer stories with awards applications.
- Employee/volunteer orientation – Before any employee or volunteer begins work, use customer stories to educate them about the organization’s value to those it serves.
- Fundraising appeals/grant proposals – Nonprofits can weave success stories into every printed, verbal or other appeal for support.
- Annual reports – Bring life to an annual report by showcasing the people and companies behind the numbers.
- Public-service announcements – Nonprofits can powerfully communicate their messages by telling the successes of those they serve.
- Your hold message – Why not refer to a customer success story right on your phone hold message? As callers wait, they’ll learn about the value of your products or services.
- Online communities – Showcase success stories in online customer or partner communities.
You and I both know that your customers’ experiences are priceless when it comes to marketing. Every business worth it’s salt has testimonials plastered across their website. Savvier business owners have a separate page brimming with accolades.
So why bother putting in the time and money to have case studies on top of testimonials?
Case studies work for three reasons.
- They provide credibility.
- They educate prospects.
- They validate solutions.
Let’s take coaching as an example. Your potential client is taking a risk that they’ll pay you for a service that may or may not solve their problems. More than likely, they’re about to pay premium prices for your coaching, which makes them all the more hesitant. They don’t know why your coaching is any better than any other solution out there and they have no idea what it will be like to be coached by you.
Sure, a testimonial can add an element of credibility, but case studies show the behind the scenes that customers need to understand the experience of working with you.
And when you’re selling something that a customer could see as complex, expensive, or risky, case studies are simply the best way to hedge your bets.
Let’s face it. When it gets right down to it, people don’t give a rodent’s backside about your business.
You could tell them until you’re blue in the face about how your customer service software is the best in the industry or how your employee dental plan and vacation package is phenomenal. They, really, truly, when it gets right down to it, don’t care.
Now turn it around. Tell those same customers that the representatives that answer your phone are extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and skilled at getting them the information they need so that they can get on with their lives.
Those vacation days and teeth cleanings keep your employees happy and loyal, so they stick around and learn the ins and outs of your business, but your customers don’t care about that. They care that they can get things done quick with someone who knows their stuff and is happy to be there.
Tell those same customers that they’ll sit on hold waiting to talk to a real live person for half of the time as your competitors’ clients. Just don’t bother explaining that those shorter hold times only happen because of your intuitive, lightning fast software. Their eyes will glaze over and you’ll lose them.
The software and the vacation days are features.
The quicker calls and reduced hold time are benefits.
Benefits are what’s in it for the customer and, let’s be honest, that’s really all they care about.
WIIFM, WIIFM Good
WIIFM (commonly pronounced whiff-um) stands for What’s In It For Me. It’s really a noun. I like to use it as a verb. Just go with it.
When you WIIFM a feature, it magically transforms into a benefit… and a benefit will speak to your customer. A benefit will keep their attention.
A benefit is the first step to a beautiful relationship.
So, what does this mean for me?
Your homework is to look through your website. Is it teeming with features? Turn those features around and WIIFM.