When There’s No Story in Customer’s “Stories”

April 26th, 2014

I’ve been perusing a lot of Tech company websites lately to see what they’re doing with their case studies.  Too often, I’m discovering, it’s not much.  When a customer case study fails to tell a story, businesses miss a huge opportunity to engage and connect with their audience.

What I’m finding is tired formulas and data packed snapshots.  Customer’s names are often left out, and the “voice” of the customer reduced to a brief quote or testimonial.  Yet, the top B2B technology marketers list case studies as their 2nd most used content marketing tactic, with an effectiveness rating of 66%, just below webinars and videos.  (Technology, B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, Content Marketing Institute.) 

In my mind a case study is, in essence, a story. With a beginning, middle, and end.    There’s drama, much like the proverbial cat who gets stuck in a tree in Act 1, rocks thrown at him in Act 2, and then finally gets the heck out of the tree in Act 3.

Here’s an example.  Our soon-to-be loyal customer was in a jam. He was facing a challenge that was causing him a lot of grief.  In his story we learn what his problems were.  And why, like the rocks being thrown at the cat, they were causing his business so much pain.  Maybe we can relate?  Then, after trying a variety of options, he discovered the perfect product or service. Yours.  And you assumed the role of the kind fireman with a ladder who got the cat out of the tree. Together you implemented a successful solution.

By telling your customer’s story you increase the potential of engaging with a reader who might see himself in your customer.  Providing a happy ending can leave him optimistic that you can help find solutions to his problems too.  And, at the very least, he’ll be much more eager to give you a shot!

Why waste such a great opportunity to connect?

Is Your Business Thriving, Or Just Surviving?

March 4th, 2014

This year I’m shifting my focus to helping companies who have a consistent and sustained need for content, and don’t have the time or expertise to create it all in house.

According to “B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends”, (Content Marketing Institute) North American trends show an incredible need for content.  93% of B2B companies now market with content to accelerate their sales cycle.  And 64% will be outsourcing their content in 2014.  They’re being stretched thin, and with lack of time being their biggest content marketing challenge, content creation is the first thing they offload.  So what I’m going to be writing more of is:

Case studies & success stories

Articles (ghost written/bylined)

White papers (aka special reports)

Webinar and video scripts

Case studies are being used to feature a customer’s successful experience with a product, service, or organization; and to educate, validate, and establish credibility.  Articles and white papers are also powerful tools for teaching before pitching, and providing useful information that solves problems and establishes a business as an authority. Read more »

7 Ways Stories Make a Connection

February 6th, 2014

Content drives the internet, and content marketing is about finding the best way to get, and keep, people’s attention.  Most agree that the best way to do that is by telling stories.

Customer case studies are at the top of the list, along with white papers, of most effective content currently being used in online marketing.

Case studies educate, validate, and establish credibility.  

A good story, based on what your audience values and delivered in the right format and channel, will always attract attention and generate leads.  Here’s why:

1. People love to read about other people, the challenges they encounter, and overcome.

2. When people empathize with the hero of the story they become inspired and more confident in their purchasing decisions.

3. Customer case studies demonstrate how a company’s idea, product, or service successfully worked in their client’s environment. Read more »