Do you “storify” each and every of your customer successes ? Why ? Why Not ?
Lets see why it is important to write a customer success story for every customer. And what is the #1 challenge and how to address it ?
How to write a customer success story for every customer, do it in 5-mins and without costing a penny ! Sounds unreal ? Read on…
A. Why is a customer success story important ?
Because it is A-1 Marketing content. The research by Marketing Sherpa lists customer success stories among the top 3 in terms of effectiveness.
Also read my earlier detailed article on Why Customer Success Story is a #1 Kickass Marketing Content ?
B. What is the #1 challenge that is stopping you ?
Lets accept it. It is lot of work !
No wonder the research done by Marketing Sherpa ranks case studies (aka customer success stories) way below in the ease of creating content index.
Yes. Creating a customer success story needs a lot of effort, takes time and costs a lot of money !!
It easily takes a few weeks to many months to get a publishable story ready.
Cost-wise it costs anywhere from $1,000-5,000 depending on how long is the story. Videos are much more expensive costing $5,000-$10,000.
C. How to make it easy on ourselves ?
Now that we know the value of a customer success story. How can we make it easy to do a story without having to wait for weeks/months and do it without breaking the bank.
Now without disappointing my writer and agency friends –
The idea is not to say that you don’t need a writer agency to create a professional story, but to show how easy it is to write a basic story. Of-course, having an expert writer on-board definitely has its plus in terms of professionalism.
So the idea is to do the basic story with all customers. And you can always do a step-up on some of those stories to add more meat and professionalism to the story depending on the availability of time, resources and on-need basis.
D. Use this simple template
We spent a lot of time going through many many different examples of well written stories, and if we had to come up with a blue-print of a story – It would be the one you see below –
We bucketed the different components into 3 buckets – low hanging , must-haves and nice-to-haves.
1. Add logo, images and introduction (low hanging)
Start with the low hanging fruits. It is easy to find the company’s logo, and a brief introduction about the company from their website. It is also easy to find the appropriate photo from among the existing public photos of the company by just using google image search.
It is also easy to plug-in the solution part.
2. Add challenges and benefits (must haves)
Any story should have these 3 must-have sections.
iii. Title of the story
You need to work this backwards. Start with benefits first.
The core of the benefits should be in-line with the benefits of the product or service you are trying to sell. You could add additional benefits as per the customer’s scenario.
The challenges would be opposite of the benefits. Think of the challenges and benefits as a BEFORE and AFTER scenario, with the solution being that magic wand.
The title of the story would be 1 line summary of the story. “How xxx company accomplished yyy with help from zzz company’s expertise”.
Of-course, the best person to provide inputs here would be the Sales or Customer Success person.
1. I would suggest would be to have a standard list of benefits and challenges, and then pick the ones that are relevant to this customer case. Now rephrase it by adding the customer specifics to personalize it to this specific customer situation.
2. Use the rule of three. 3-benefits + 3-challenges.
3. Add testimonials and metrics (nice to haves)
If you can manage to get a testimonial or quote from the customer, it is awesome because it adds more credibility to the story. If you manage to get the quote, then including a photo of the person would be super awesome. Typically people do not hesitate if you say that you want to include their photo along with the testimonial.
Metrics are much more tricky.
But if you are in a SaaS business then you have access to the operations data and metrics, and it makes it a lot easier to state the facts. And you already have it with you is a Big win !
4. Make it engaging, not boring.
After reading through 1000’s of stories – one thing i can say for sure is that i hate to read through texty stories. It is so damn boring !! Now imagine the same if not a worse feeling by your to-be-customer who is supposed to get “convinced” after reading these stories :-)
You can make it more engaging by a simple trick – By having more images than text.
There are numerous studies that show how we engage more with images versus text. Apparently human brain processes visuals 60,000 X faster than text. (source: The power of visual storytelling – Ekaterina Walter)
A recent study by SHIFT shows how tweets with images are 5X more engaging than the ones with just text. This is very relevant here because twitter is a platform for instant gratification. You get it or not. There is no second chance. No-one searches for old tweets.
(Source: Jan 2014 Twitter Engagement Study: Photo vs. Text – by SHIFT)
From the customer success story perspective – this means cut down on the text and have more visuals. Even if you want to provide the details break it down to bullet points.
Someone will read through 4 pages of boring text is a myth. Does not happen in today’s world. If you need more than 1 page to convey the story then something is missing ?
Moreover it is relatively easier to get images than content for text.
You can use any of the following – customer head shots, workplace/factory/product photos shared publicly by customers, screenshots of your product-in-use, charts, and more – you can get very creative here ;-)
5. Quicker email approvals
Once you have the story drafted pop it into an email and send it to your customer for approval.
Try to keep it simple, and minimal on legal jargon so that there is less scope for delays and rejections.
Below is a standard email text for the approval.
Dear Jane Doe,
Thank you for being an amazing customer. We have put together a short write-up about your success. Please review and let us know if you would want to add anything more ?
We would like to use this in our marketing communications and it would be nice if you could read through the below text and provide your consent.
ABC would like to distribute these materials. This includes posting them on and making them available for download through the ABC Web site and social media sites. In addition, ABC would like to use portions of these materials, including your corporate logo and quotes attributed to your employees, in ABC marketing materials.
Please confirm that XYZ approves by responding to this email saying that you approve.
Thanks & rgds
John Doe, XXX Company
(disclaimer – I am not a legal expert. In case of any doubt please consult your legal person for the right verbiage as per your industry, country and company risk profile. But the idea is to keep it simple such that people don’t have to run to their legal department to decipher what the hell you want them to sign on)
Tip: It would work best if the sales or customer success person sends it out, and follows it up with a phone call. Of-course.
You are done !
Now that you have customer success story – there begins the most exciting part – promoting them !
Always remember customer success stories are #1 as a marketing content – do a favor to yourself and your customer by NOT piling them somewhere in the corner.
Paint the town red by promoting them everywhere.
Check out this earlier post by me on 25 Ways to use your Stories in Marketing
Now over to you. What has been your experience ?
Do you have other tips to make story writing easy, yet powerful ?
Rivet.ly (http://rivet.ly) is an “intelligent marketing hub” for your customer success stories and social proof content. In addition to helping you automatically manage your ‘our-customers’ tab, It also helps you to put together a story using any kind of customer proof point, using cool templates. Rivet.ly helps you to spend more time with your customers, while helping create and promote their stories.
If you are interested in an “exclusive” private beta – contact Anupam