8 Opportunities You’re Missing in Marketing Success Stories

SuccessStoryPro.com-marketing-strategy

By Gina Kellogg

Customer success stories are valuable because they allow prospects to see how your product or service solved a problem or helped the customer in some significant way. But the stories do little good if you don’t publicize them so that prospects have access to them.

How can you take advantage of the success stories you create? Make the case studies and white papers for your business part of your overall marketing strategy. For some ideas of how you can incorporate them into your promotions, check out the list of suggestions below. (Tip: Bookmark this page so you can refer back to it as a reminder for each new success story you create.)

1) Showcase success stories on your website.

Add a link among the main options for navigating your site. Don’t bury your success stories in a subfolder or under a tab that doesn’t specifically lead readers to them. Instead, include a section such as “Case Studies,” “Success Stories,” “Customer Showcase” or something similar directly on your home page. Many websites include testimonials on their home pages, which is an idea marketing experts recommend. But when you have a success story, you can take that technique a step further by adding a sidebar or box with a catchy or intriguing message to encourage site visitors to click through to read about the full story.

2) Blog about success stories.

Don’t simply add a new success story to your website and be done with it. If you have a blog (and you should), then make sure you mention it there. Provide a brief overview with a link to the story. Internal links on your website are a bonus because they help improve the SEO (search-engine optimization) of your website.

3) Promote success stories via social media.

Incoming links to your website are another great SEO technique. So take advantage of the success stories on your site by promoting them on social media. Send out a Tweet that summarizes the case study. Post a link from your Facebook page about your white paper. Mention it on the content-sharing sites such as Digg and Reddit. Exposing more prospects to the story will gain you even more leads and potential sales.

4) Include success stories in your e-newsletter.

Often, businesses run out of ideas of what to include in their regular digital promotions. When you have positive stories about your customers’ successes, you never run out of content. And you give prospects new insight into how others have found your product of service to be of value.

5) Add a success story to a sales letter or flier.

Marketing materials that you can leave behind with a customer provide them with the opportunity to read about your business’s offerings when they have time to study them in depth. So develop your case study into a one- or two-page document and provide copies to your sales staff, hand it out at trade shows or conferences and add it to media kits.

6) Develop a PowerPoint or SlideShare presentation using a success story.

Pull out the key points to include in a presentation and include photos, charts and other graphics that help to illustrate your customers’ successes. Use the PowerPoint in a live presentation with a customer or at an event, and upload the SlideShare version to help generate online interest.

7) Create a press release focused on a success story.

Have a new offering and need a way to give it an interesting “hook” that will generate interest from the press? Use a customer success story to introduce it.

8) Offer a success story as an article for an industry publication.

Magazine editors are often interested in including objective and compelling stories in their publications. Their readers want to see how their colleagues are solving problems and improving processes. So offer up the option of providing an article based on a case study or a white paper to generate even more buzz about your business.

How else have you used your success stories in your marketing to get the full value from them? Pulling quotes to use as testimonials? Including them in a speech? I’d love to know how you gained even more marketing mojo from them!

About the author: Gina Kellogg is founder/principal of The Success Story Pro and Hott Cornflakes Communications. Get more from Gina at Twitter (@Gina_Kellogg and @SuccessStoryPro), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Why the Traditional Case Study Is Dying a Slow Death

By Gina Kellogg

The traditional case study has a reputation for being, well, boring. Actually, the term boring might even be an overstatement. After all, you can only classify a case study as boring if you actually read it. In most cases, you probably never make it past the headline:

“Company ABC Solves Problem for Client XYZZZZZZZ.” (Snore.)

Maybe the reason companies continue to use traditional case studies is their creative and original headings: “The Challenge.” “The Solution.” “The Results.”

Yawn. Maybe not.

Luckily, the traditional case study format is slowly dying off and giving way to a more modern style of customer success story. And, as a result, the more compelling documents are delivering more powerful results.

Today’s case studies have:

  • Enticing headlines.
  • Introductions that read like industry articles in trade and business magazines.
  • Problems, facts, statistics and solutions intertwined in an interesting story-style structure.
  • Persuasive subheads that naturally lure the reader through the entire story.

Even better, today’s case studies are written with a personal slant that lets customers see themselves facing the same types of situations as the individuals in the case study. And those readers can envision a happy ending to their problems, just like the business showcased in the success story.

Not every business has transitioned to the more contemporary, story-telling style of case study, however. In fact, some CEOs and marketing directors actually insist that the traditional challenge-solution-results format is the only appropriate format for their industry. Their believe today’s “newfangled” story approach is not “professional” enough.

If you work with C-level execs who insist on only using the boring, old-fashioned style of case study, it might be easier than you think to persuade them to reconsider. Here are a few tips:

  • When they request another tired and tedious success story, drop a subtle hint about how they could cut costs by reducing the sales staff due to the lack of business.
  • Suggest they can save on printing costs next quarter because no editors have been requesting copies of your media kit with those old case studies in it.
  • Explain how you might be able to reduce your receptionist’s hours to part-time because the phone rings so rarely.
  • Then make mention of how your competitors sales have jumped since they started using today’s contemporary, story-style format.

Maybe the big boys will finally get the hint.

Have you faced problems with your management resisting the use of contemporary-styled case studies over traditionally formatted versions? How have you helped them see the light?

About the author: Gina Kellogg is founder/principal of The Success Story Pro and Hott Cornflakes Communications. Get more from Gina at Twitter (@Gina_Kellogg and @SuccessStoryPro), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook.

When Good Customers Make Bad Case Studies

By Gina Kellogg

You’ve been wanting to add a case study to your marketing arsenal, and you finally have the perfect customer to showcase.

Harriett was referred to your company by your brother-in-law. She’s got a small business, and, initially, you didn’t think she would be a good fit for what you offer. You mostly work with mid-sized corporations; the typical small businesses simply can’t afford your services. Nevertheless, you did some adjusting, shaved off some service fees, massaged some numbers and managed to work with her—after all, you felt obligated to help. In the end, you were able to develop a mix of offerings that managed to suit Harriett’s needs quite well.

Now, she’s been raving about how much money your business saved her.

Sounds like the perfect customer to showcase in a success story, doesn’t she?

Think again.

The problem with Harriett is that she’s not representative of your typical customer. Granted, if you wanted to expand into servicing more small businesses, then developing a case history about Harriett’s situation might be beneficial. But the prospects you typically are pursuing simply won’t be able to relate to Harriett’s situation. They won’t be able to see themselves facing the same situation as Harriett because their business is so different than hers.

Putting up a case study about Harriett, in this case, could actually be detrimental to your business.

But don’t give up hope. Another customer’s success story is bound to come to your attention. And when it does, you can create a case study that will allow future prospects to truly appreciate the products or services you offer.

About the author: Gina Kellogg is founder/principal of The Success Story Pro and Hott Cornflakes Communications. Get more from Gina at Twitter (@Gina_Kellogg and @SuccessStoryPro), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook.