One of the most powerful sales tools in which companies have are the stories people tell about their products along with services. A Great story can captivate potential customers along with compel them to engage with their brand.
“A customer’s experience with your product carries more weight than any marketing message you can come up with,” says Esther Choy, president along with chief story facilitator of Leadership Story Lab in Chicago along with author of Let the Story Do the Work: The Art of Storytelling for Business Success.
although a lot of companies have a hard time convincing customers to share stories beyond a standard testimonial or review, Choy says. Furthermore, those testimonials may be of limited use for companies looking to learn how the product helped users overcome challenges—which is usually a key role in which customer stories can play.
This particular takes a concerted effort to engage customers, gather in which content, along with deliver This particular effectively to different potential customers. Choy describes four things companies can do to curate those stories along with deploy them for maximum effect.
Make Story Sourcing an Everyday Responsibility Across Your Company
Just as companies build social media departments around sharing their brand messaging, This particular is usually crucial in which they also invest time along with infrastructure to collect customer stories. The best way to do This particular is usually to design story sourcing into employees’ roles along with responsibilities‚ such as tasking some employees with collecting, editing, along with posting stories, as well as tracking how well they perform across media platforms.
“Make sure This particular’s baked into people’s jobs to collect stories,” she says. “Not just, ‘Oh, in which’s a great idea.’ Because if nobody’s appointed to do This particular, This particular is usually unlikely to happen.”
Remember, the goal of these stories is usually to promote the company’s brand by associating This particular with positive, powerful narratives through the outside. Those outside voices provide an authenticity along with trust lacking in testimonials along with highly polished stories produced by the companies themselves. “What different customers say carries a lot of influence because I perceive them as my peers,” says Choy.
Capturing those outside perspectives can also help stimulate sales. On a recent flight, Choy sat next to an executive through a company in which manufactures high-end sewing machines. The executive complained about how competition through cheaper, inferior products was endangering the company’s growth. The executive was having a hard time envisioning why customers could want to pay more for their high-end product. Choy saw the problem right away.
“I realized they had to go beyond the product,” Choy says. “They didn’t have anything in which conveyed customer experience. using a story, you’re not just listening to why the company is usually the best, although why people deserve nothing although the best. along with in which message gets associated with your brand.”
Know What You Want to Capture
Encouraging customers to share their stories is usually one thing. Getting them to sit down along with start typing can be more challenging.
“Oftentimes, there’s inertia,” says Choy. “There’s a lot of people happy using a product or service, although no news is usually Great news, right? If you don’t hear through the customer, you’re doing a Great job. although companies should source stories through customers because in which is usually how they can defend along with grow their market share.”
So the first step to gathering stories in which dig deeper than product reviews is usually reducing in which inertia. The goal for the company is usually to generate customer stories with three structural elements. Choy calls these “IRS”: an intriguing beginning or hook, a riveting middle, along using a satisfying end.
“There’s a structural process to telling Great stories, so design a structure for how you want your customer story to be put together along with then make This particular easy for them.”
“There’s a structural process to telling Great stories, so design a structure for how you want your customer story to be put together along with then make This particular easy for them,” Choy says.
To do This particular, Choy recommends building a template of fill-in-the-blank prompts in which customers can easily follow—along with which will elicit particular types of stories—instead of just presenting them with an open text box. For example, In-Shape, a California-based health club group, asks three questions to help members develop their stories: “What was your goal?” “How did you get there?” along with “How do you feel today?” Typical responses to these questions generally correspond to the beginning, middle, along with end of stories. In another example, Conformis, a maker of knee replacements, asks its customers: “is usually there something you can do with your Conformis knee in which you weren’t able to before?” This particular prompt invites customers to use a before-along with-after structure.
Even customers who have great stories may not be the strongest writers, so providing examples they can study—along with borrow through—can help solicit stellar stories.
“T.S. Eliot once wrote, ‘Great writers borrow, great writers steal,’” Choy says. “in which’s Great advice.”
So companies should offer up samples of what they are hoping to solicit.
“You need to have a certain idea of what you’re looking for,” Choy says, “doing sure in which your customers know what you mean by ‘story.’”
Those samples should emulate what you’re looking for in terms of tone, length, along with subject matter. So if you are interested in capturing irreverent stories of how customers used your product in unusual ways, or heroic tales of how they came to you in a crisis along with you were able to help them succeed, have those kinds of examples to share with them.
For example, Vionic Shoes asks customers to share their “sole story” on its website. On the entry-form page, customers can read examples through others.
Reward Your Storytellers
Soliciting stories through your customers is usually essentially asking them to deepen their relationship to your brand. So, This particular only makes sense in which they should walk away through in which experience with some sort of instant gratification. After all, they took the time to tell their story. A little gratitude is usually not too much to ask for.
One option is usually to use lucrative rewards for storytellers. For example, at Vionic Shoes, every customer who submits a “sole story” receives 30 “Sole Circle Rewards” points, with an option to get more points by submitting a photo. At Absolute Steel, customers who submit stories in which the company uses receive a $50 check inside the mail.
although tiny rewards work, too, Choy says. Simply allowing customers to preview their stories prior to publication could be enough.
“If you let them take a look, they may go ‘wow, This particular is usually what This particular looks like on the website,’” she says. “You should have some sort of immediate feedback, some immediate gratification for having gone through the process of telling your story.