Most companies have what they think are success stories on their websites. They call them case studies. Generally, they're more about telling everyone how great your company is and getting your product names in the text as many times as possible. And, they include customer testimonials that rave about your company or products-or both.
A company-focused case study may be a validation point to push an end-stage purchase decision, but it's not compelling enough to drive early momentum and extended interest. Great testimonials are expected, therefore the impact is somewhat diluted. If they were bad, would you publish them?
A success story, on the other hand, is all about your customer. And, if you want to get as much traction as possible, consider writing multiple stories from different angles and personalizing the story to match the needs of specific segments and thinking tracks.
Success stories can also be written as conversational briefs for use by your salespeople.
Below are some elements that transform the memorializing of customer projects from case studies to success stories. Hint-It's all about your customers.
- Set up.
Why did the customer seek out your solution? A good success story not only sets up the description of who the customer is, but tells readers about the business problem that existed to compel them to seek change. Done well, this allows your reader to put themselves in the situation as their own. Don't forget to talk about the impact or cost to the customer due to the persistence of that problem.
How did you help the customer solve their problem? Yes, the success story should include an exposure of the expertise your company applied to the customer's problem. (Notice I didn't say product.) Talk about how you worked with the customer to help them choose and accept the change. You can even include options considered and show why they weren't chosen. Think about this stage as helping your readers evaluate pros and cons. Remember to keep the focus squarely on the customer, even though you're showcasing your expertise.
What impact did the change have in your customer's business? This is the section focused on success. How did your customer's business outcomes change after project completion? Once that problem was eliminated, what shifted for them? What new opportunities were available for growth that didn't exist before the solution was implemented?
Display product components. If you have to mention products within the story, do so sparingly. If the story is relevant to your readers, they'll become involved in the progression because the context addresses what they're interested in-solving a high-priority problem. Once they've embraced that, they'll want to know what was included in the solution to drive those results-so tell them. But don't distract them from the story by putting product names with trademark symbols and services marks all throughout your text.
Customers talking about the impact in ways their peers can appreciate will get attention and be more believable than outright raves about your company. You are not the only one who can solve their problem. There are many ways to achieve change. Some are better than others, depending on what the customer wants to achieve. Focus on quotes about your expertise, ability to listen, dedication to getting the promised results, etc. Ask customers to talk about new opportunities the solution has opened up and how they're capitalizing on them.
Consider talking with several different stakeholders with vested interests in the project and writing success stories from each perspective. People want to read about people like them who have the same concerns they do about problem and solution impacts. Success stories, just like content, are not at their most effective when written as one-size-fits-all resources.
Solving a problem requires change. Change is scary. The status quo is comfortable, even when it's causing stress. Which sounds strange, but we all know it's true. A success story can put prospective buyers into situations they may be experiencing and show them a way out. These types of stories will pull prospective buyers in during their research and consideration phase and help move them toward taking action to disrupt the status quo-with you. Which is the whole point.
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