We’re continuing with the theme of storytelling this week, only now, we’re looking at other ways to incorporate stories into your business.
If you haven’t had a look at my first post about this, I recommend you do! It’s a great place to start - Storytelling for Business Part 1.
If you don’t already have an interesting personal story about how and why you set up your business (and even if you do), then fear not! Stories don’t just have to come from you!
The power of storytelling is not just reserved for your About Us/Me page. You need to ensure you use it in all of your marketing.
Some of the most powerful and persuasive stories can come from your customers. Sure, you can talk all day about how wonderful your product/service is and how much it’s changed your life – but honestly, you kinda’ have to say that. That’s why getting your customers to say it for you is far more rewarding.
But, sometimes getting a good customer story is not quite as simple as asking your customers for a testimonial. If you do, it may end up looking something like this:
“Jane is great to work with! She is professional and friendly and answers all my queries. I’ll be using her again!”
This testimonial sounds like every other testimonial. It gives your reader no indication of what makes you different, or why they should choose you over someone else.
What you need is a compelling customer story, not a boring testimonial! - Tweet That!
How Do I Get a Good Customer Story?
Well, it takes a little work, but I guarantee it’ll be worth it!
The best way to gain feedback like this is by interviewing your customer. By phone is best. But if you can’t, then emailing them with some questions will do.
But What Questions do I Ask My Customer?
Knowing what questions to ask can make or break a great customer story. Luckily for you, I’ve included the kind of questions you should be asking below!
1. What problems or issues were you having before you invested in my product or service?
This gets your customer talking about life before they stumbled across you! Note down what their main issues were. This will likely reflect your target market’s issues too.
2. What was your solution to this problem?
This is where they’ll detail any past quick fixes or solutions they tried to cobble together.
3. Had you approached anyone offering similar services to mine? And if you have, how did you find them?
Obviously, don’t name your competitors in your testimonial – I think it looks petty!
4. What do you like about my service/product? What makes it different?
This gets them talking about the industry you're in as well as your particular good points.
5. What is the main benefit of my product/service? How have you found it’s helped you personally?
Try to get an honest human answer out of them. Not just that it’s saved your customer time, but also, what that means? It’s enabled them to spend more time with their family would be better.
What Does a Good Customer Story Look Like?
If you’re ever looking for good examples of this, then look at the diet industry! They use their customer success to the max.
But what if you don’t have a visual business (like the dieting industry) where you can showcase success stories easily?
Take this as an example below of a story for an accountant. I’ve used the questions above to form an example answer you could receive.
“My name’s John, and I am a builder based in Lancashire.
(The opening should be a reflection of your target market your aiming at.)
For over twenty years, I’ve helped people build their dream homes. I love it. But there was just one thing I'd always hated…accounts!
Each year, I would dread the 31st January date. I would usually scramble round about five days before, hunting for receipts and invoices.
(Answer to Q1. What problems did your customer face?)
Spreadsheets aren’t my thing, so it would take me hours imputing all the data. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to employ an administrator or bookkeeper to assist me.
I had contacted some accountants before, but they weren’t very friendly or interested in showing me how to get things done. So, I gave up and spent years struggling.
(Answers to Q2/3 What solutions did your customer implement in the meantime, and what were their experiences when dealing with your competitors.)
But then I learned about [example] accounting. They’re aimed at small businesses and sole traders.
They don’t use any jargon, and they helped me organise my paperwork. They also showed me how to use excel. Best of all, they were reasonably priced and gave me some great advice.
They also make a decent brew!
(Answer to Q4 – What do they like about your product or service.)
Now, I can enjoy Christmas without the January deadline date looming! I’ll be coming back again!”
(Answer to Q5 – So, what does this mean to them! Get to the benefit of your service.)
How Do I Get a Story Like This?
Stories like that are like gold. Accompany them with a picture of your client, full name and business name and you’ll create an even stronger customer testimonial.
Tip! Make sure your customer testimonial is a reflection of your target market. It will be no good having the above testimonial if you’re aiming to land huge conglomerates as your clients!
But chances are, your customers won’t provide these stories off the bat – it would certainly be great if they did! That’s why it’s so important to take the time to contact your customer. Arrange a phone or Skype call. If you can, record it on your mobile or with a voice recorder (with your customer’s permission!), that way you can focus on having a natural conversation.
Next, write it up. And make sure you send it to the customer before publishing it. It’s wise to get their approval beforehand.
Don't Just Use Customer Stories for Testimonials...
Don’t just use these stories as testimonials; use them as case studies, in social media, marketing materials, etc. You’ve put in the hard work; you may as well get as much out of it as possible.
*Remember, always, always get permissions from your customers before you do anything.
And that’s it! Next week, we’ll look at how we can use storytelling techniques in content marketing.
If you have any thoughts on how to create a great customer story or testimonial, I would love to hear about them! Just comment below…