Customer stories often have bad rap in marketing organizations. Everyone loves them when they’re done. But the process of publishing customer stories can be difficult – you’ve got to line up interviews with the customers, write and edit the story, and then get the customer’s approval. The last step (approval) can drag on for weeks or months – or worse.
There’s nothing more frustrating than creating a customer story that never sees the light of day.
A stalled approval process is often a symptom of flaws in the story development process. Here are five strategies for keeping your customer stories on track from the start.
1. Scope approval processes before you start
Some companies have policies restricting endorsements. Others may consider your solution part of their competitive advantage. Find out before you start what you’ll have to do to get the story approved. Then decide if it’s worth going forward.
2. Do your homework before the interview
Dig deeper than the customer’s “About Us” page. Make sure you understand the customer’s messaging and positioning so the story reflects how they would like to be seen. If you don’t describe their business well, they won’t be motivated to approve it. You cannot always count on the person you’re interviewing to have the broader company perspective.
3. Never make the customer look bad
In taking the usual “problem/solution” approach to a customer story, it’s tempting to emphasize how bad things were without your solution. But in doing so, you might be making the customer look incompetent or negligent – and that will make it tougher to sell the story. Instead of describing how bad things were, try to find the common themes and challenges that will resonate with other people in their position.
4. The customer should be the hero – not your technology
The real hero of the story isn’t your technology – it’s the people who select, promote, install and use it. This is the core idea behind empowerment marketing. When the customer is the hero of the story, they are more likely to approve it quickly, and maybe even amplify and promote it with you.
5. Tell the story on a human scale
Even in B2B marketing, a story should be about more than organizations and departments. Write about the people and how their lives, experiences or concerns changed. People are more interesting than organizations.