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4 Tips for More Seductive Customer Stories

 

(This week, we lost a treasured filmmaker, Nora Ephron. This post is a tribute to her.)

If you've seen Ephron's classic '80s comedy, When Harry Met Sally, you know the most famous scene.

Friends Sally (Meg Ryan) and Harry (Billy Crystal) are talking over sandwiches in a deli. To prove a point, Sally pretends – very loudly – to be experiencing a particularly, ahem, pleasurable human experience.

But the punch line comes from a woman at a nearby table. Swayed by what she thinks is Sally's endorsement of the sandwich, she tells the waiter, "I'll have what she's having."

It’s a reminder of one of the most powerful marketing concepts around:

Other peoples' ringing endorsements convince us to buy – better than just about anything else.

That means, stop talking about how great you are and let customers do it for you. Showcase their stellar experiences in customer success stories.

How do you create customer stories that elicit a reaction as emphatic as Sally does? Here are four ways to make your success stories more seductive:

1- Feature Only Insanely Smitten Customers

In the effort to get customer stories, just any customer stories, we don't always hold out for the best. The result: lackluster narratives that leave buyers unmoved.

Truly convincing customer stories call for interviewing only those who love you.

Choose your customers carefully. Who eloquently sings your praises? Who already refers you to others? Get those customers on record.

Take the time to pre-qualify customers as being true fans before moving ahead with collecting testimonials or case studies.

2- Capture Passionate Customer Quotes

Customer quotes should ooze with that love – and the customer’s personality. That passion should jump off the page or video screen.

Just as in any news or feature story, quotes are often the most-read - or only-read - parts. Infuse your success stories with glowing direct quotes from your devoted customers.

To get passionate quotes from customers, ask questions that get them talking and sharing their emotions:

- “Describe the situation before and the pains/problems/challenges of that.”

- “Describe how your workday (or whatever) has changed for the better with the new solution.”

- “Can you share an example or anecdote of a time when the solution [insert name] made a difference for you?”

For optimal emotion, plan to capture stories before customers forget how bad things were previously, but also after enough time that they’ve had a chance to see results.

DON’T: Write quotes for customers. Collect them directly from customers. I know, customers are busy and often ask you to put something together for them to approve. But when possible, politely request a real quote.

Customers say infinitely more interesting things than what you might manufacture.

3- Tap into Prospects’ Narcissism - Make it ‘About’ Them

If you’re dating, you’re told to keep the other person talking about themselves. The same goes for wooing potential customers.

We all like talking about, hearing about, and reading about ourselves or others like us.

In a customer success story, that takes the form of featuring current customers that look just like prospects. A director of HR wants to hear about how another director of HR solved the very same payroll problem she’s contending with now. Otherwise, it’s not relevant for your audience.

4- Display your Feathers – Those Tantalizing Customer Results

In the peacock mating game, those flashy feathers are alluring for one reason – to attract and land the peahens.

In a customer case study or success story, your colorful feathers or enticing cologne come in the form of customer results – specific and as measurable as possible.

How do you get strong results? Going back to tip #1, choose customers well, in this case those that have only the best results and can share them.

Then, ask before-and-after questions. How much time or money (or whatever) did this require before, and how about now? Present those numbers in ways that put customers at ease. If dollar figures are too revealing, use percentages or factors of (i.e. cut in half, tripled, etc.).

Finally, showcase those results as a peacock would – so they can’t be missed. Weave them into your headline, highlight them in customer quotes and include them in sidebar summaries.
 
With these seductive qualities, a customer success story can actually sell for you, convincing that prospect to think unequivocally …

 

"I'll have what he’s/she's having."

 

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More Stories By Casey Hibbard

Casey Hibbard is the founder and president of Compelling Cases, Inc. and author of "Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset." She has helped dozens of companies create and manage nearly 500 customer case studies and success stories over the past decade. Casey is featured in numerous books, articles, and teleclasses. She consults with organizations one-on-one and conducts online customer-story classes.