The Success of Success Stories

A case study or success story not only raises the appeal of a website but also opens up other ways of promoting your business. Too many business owners rely, in vain, on their customers (or clients) to provide testimonials, when most would be delighted to tell their stories if only they were asked.

As your business returns to partial or full operation, now is the time to remind your customers, your employees, and yourself of your past successes.

The best case studies or success stories always:

  • Present the customer’s perspective on the problem. The problem you believe you solved may not be the problem that drove the customer to you and may not be the reason why the customer most appreciated your efforts. But that is the problem your future customers will relate to–and the one you should focus upon.
  • Show both you and the customer to advantage. After all, the customer had the intelligence and initiative to call you–and specifically you–to solve a problem.
  • Explain what you did from your point of view as well. Many testimonials fail to give a complete picture; a case study or success story fills in the missing pieces.
  • Has a plot. After all, if nothing went wrong and you did nothing to fix it, where is the story? Simply stating that you did “this thing” for “that person” isn’t a story. A story includes the who, what, why, when, and where–and most of all, the who cares?
  • Includes quotes. Direct quotes lend immediacy to the story and help you build a direct relationship to the reader.

Putting together several short case studies creates a white paper or an informational article that you can publish on your website and in industry or local magazines and newspapers. Testimonials drawn from the customer interview are usually more specific and more interesting than one-off testimonials because the customer has been transported back to the original situation, rather than focused solely on the results.

In earlier posts, I detailed the three steps to a great case study and explained how to conduct great client interviews. But if interviewing, contributing to, and writing success stories or case studies appears like an overwhelming task, please reach out to me. I’ll be happy to send you samples that show the excitement you can generate with successful success stories.

From our base in Peterborough, NH, TWP Marketing & Technical Communications writes marketing copy that engages your customers and delivers your message with accuracy, clarity, and passion.

My Customers Won’t Talk to Me!

Q. My customers must love my products and services because they keep returning. But they don’t send thank you letters, they don’t compliment me or my staff, and if I ask them how we did, they say “Great!” That doesn’t tell potential new customers anything. What’s with them?

A. Customers are only human. They know they are talking to the head of a business they like, so they want to give you what you want. But they aren’t sure exactly what to say (they expect you want marketing jargon and they don’t know how to speak jargon); are shy about revealing their ignorance of the specifics of what you did; and feel resentful about having to invent something right now or about confronting endless surveys. The wise approach is to put a third party into the mix.

Strong Interviews Lead to Strong Testimonials

Here’s how I handle customer interviews to make sure they deliver testimonials and information you can use to market, align, and improve your business.

  • First, I interview you to find out what you think you accomplished for that customer and how how that particular job reflects your overall business and its goals.
  • Then, I contact your customer (after you’ve prepared the way with a brief email or phone call) to ask for a 15-minute interview at the customer’s convenience. That time limit is most important.

I ask the customer leading questions, listen to the answers, and base my next question(s) on those answers. We take a journey together through the customer’s experience, with no previous expectations. I ask the hard questions, too; for example, what would you do differently next time to solve your problem? What should the company do differently? I can ask those questions because I am not the business owner, and I can negotiate confidentiality if that’s necessary. I keep the interview on target and deep dive for differentiators.

Finally, I create one or more strong testimonials, which I then submit to the customer for the customer’s approval. Or I create an entire case study, which I submit to you first (to make sure the content matches your goals) and then to the customer for approval. Because I listen well and ask insightful, respectful questions, most testimonials and case studies return from the customer with minor if any changes.

Strong Testimonials Connect with Potential Customers

The result: You have testimonials that actually say something in clear, everyday language that speaks to potential customers. You learn facts about your business and the customer experience that you may never have expected. You have the basis for or a complete case study that explains exactly what you do and how you do it.

TWP Marketing & Technical Communications has over a decade of experience in interviewing business owners and their customers. If you want testimonials that work hard for your business in the marketplace, contact us today.

The Marketing Power of Social Cognition

One of my clients recently published an article about social cognition–our ability to learn from other humans rather than through direct experience. For example, if we see everyone outside bundled up in scarfs and coats, we make the intellectual leap that it is cold out while never leaving the comforts of a warm house ourselves.

We learn a lot of information through social cognition, which is why testimonials and case studies (success stories) are such an important tool for marketing. Whether they are presented in writing, video or photographs, information about how current customers experience your business is an important incentive for new customers.

The best testimonials and case studies deliver specific facts about what you do and how you do it in plain, every day language. Let your customers speak for themselves; marketing jargon or vague comments like “he’s great to work with” will not convince anyone. If possible, ask a third party to interview your customers because customers are likely to be more open and because you are likely to prejudge what they have to say, losing a great opportunity to find out how your business really affects customers. Social cognition works both ways: if your customers feel an expectation from you for certain words, they are likely to provide them whether or not they truly believe them.

When I interview your customers, I begin by interviewing you, the business owner. I want to be an informed interviewer, and I want to know why this particular project or customer relationship stood out in your mind. Then I ask your customers about their experience and often find that they are grateful for benefits of your work that you didn’t even consider. But those benefits are the same ones that will make you appealing to future customers and set you aside from the competition.

Social cognition is a powerful tool. Let me help you make use of it with testimonials and case studies.