Storytelling makes for amazing marketing because people don't realize they're being marketed to. They're pulled into the story. They develop an emotional attachment to your business and they stick around for the resolution.
Good storytelling casts your customers as the heroes of their stories. You want their successes and triumphs to be told because you want potential customers to hear the stories and think that they can do those things too.
When you cast your business as the wise sage who helps the hero achieve their goals, you become important to the solution. That way people who are considering buying from you understand the valuable role that you play even while you are highlighting the accomplishments of others.
But finding the stories isn't always easy. Sometimes you're fortunate enough to have a loyal customer who bathes you in compliments. More often than not, these stories are silent successes that aren't shared with you. You need to find a way to dig these up so that you can breathe life into them and share them with potential customers.
But how do you do that?
First, a call for stories is not enough. I've seen countless businesses inviting people to share their stories with them. And…
The problem with this approach is that people are busy, especially successful ones. If you want their story, you need to find a more creative approach than merely asking. Even people with good intentions and great stories who read your call for stories will often put your request on the back burner behind the more important ones affecting their daily business. You need to go out and get those stories. Here's how:
Ask Your Customer Support Team/Person
Asking your customer support team for stories of successful customers or fantastic comeback stories is a great first step for two reasons. First, this team (or person) is on the front lines talking to customers every day. If anybody knows what your customers are thinking it's this group.
The second reason going to them is a good idea is because you’re giving the support person the opportunity to feel important and valued. Very effective stories star disgruntled customers because the story is always in the friction. If you can show a person who is struggling and then overcame that struggle, it's a lot more effective than someone who just bought your product or service and used it. Ask your team for times when they were really able to help someone. This will assist them in getting to the best stories and allow them to feel special for their efforts at the same time.
Follow Your Customers on Social Media
Follow as many of your customers on social media as possible. This will help you keep close tabs on their wins and successes. When they brag about something out of the ordinary, reach out to them and congratulate them. If appropriate ask them the story behind their success. If it's a good story ask them if you might use it for your newsletter, web copy, blog or social media post.
Explain What's In It for Them
Many marketers approach requests for case studies and customer stories as a favor from the customer. The customer is busy when you come to them begging for their customer story, it quickly becomes an inconvenience for them; especially when you point it out as one like when you ask them to do you a “big favor.”
However, if you explain what’s in it for them they'll be more likely to participate. For example, instead of asking for a favor tell them they've been selected to be highlighted in a newsletter. It goes out to a thousand people and the details of their business and their offerings will be shared widely and in a positive light. They will quickly see the value of participation for their own business.
Host an Appreciation Event
If you are looking for great customer stories, a solid way to uncover them is by hosting an appreciation event. When making small talk with your customers and expressing your appreciation for them, make it a point to ask them what accomplishments they are most proud of this year. That gives them a chance to boast and they likely will enjoy the opportunity to do so. As you're listening to their success stories, try to figure out if your business had any part of that. Even if you didn’t play a role in it, it still provides a wonderful opportunity to congratulate them on something they're proud of.
If you want to incorporate storytelling in marketing for your business, you need to feature your clients or customers. The best stories focus on their successes. But asking them to share their success in your posts on social media is usually not enough to get a response. Instead, use some of these tactics to get them to open up about what they've achieved and how you helped.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses and chambers how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com.
Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to eradicate boring copy and bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.