I’m willing to bet you’ve heard the saying “facts tell, stories sell” and there’s no disputing the power of stories.
Every one of us loves a good story, and our brains are conditioned to recognize stories as a pattern. We use stories all day long to help communicate concepts and share ideas.
When it comes to using stories in our business, there’s one type of story that sells more than others.
And it’s not the typical dramatic rags-to-riches story that we’ve all heard a million, billion, zillion times. (This type of story, the hero’s journey has nothing wrong with it, it’s just that it’s difficult to stand out when you tell the same type of story as everyone else in your industry.)
These origin stories are important, but they shouldn’t be the only story you’re telling. The idea that your audience cares that much about your story is flawed. Because while your story is interesting…it’s really not all about you.
What’s even more compelling are your client or customer stories.
Why the Voice of the Customer Matters
To move beyond the Hero’s Journey and your story, one of the best places to start is by using the voice of your customer. That’s right, you need to stop talking and let your customers do the talking instead! You want to turn your customer into the hero instead.
You’ve probably heard the term “social proof” which speaks to the proof you’re able to provide in terms of your social media channels, reviews, customer list and more. Social proof is critical to building the know, like and trust factor.
Social proof isn’t something you can afford to ignore and, if you do it well, you’ll gain a competitive advantage because most people simply aren’t using the voice of the customer to the fullest.
Sure, you have a “praise” or another page on your site with quotes from happy customers, but so does pretty much every other coach, consultant or service-provider.
These types of quotes necessary, but they really are just the start of what you can do.
Sharing Your Client Stories
There are so many ways you can use the customer voice in your marketing – from case studies to videos to joint speaking engagements.
Using the voice of your customer is so effective because your client can readily identify with the journey of their peers. Instead of you saying how awesome you are, you become a part of the story.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many B2B companies on these programs by getting their customers involved in sharing their stories. And while I learned a lot putting these concepts into action, the biggest value of these tools was to bring in prospects and then to help close the sale.
Before you shut this idea down or dismiss it because it’s a big ask, consider this – done the right way, it actually helps your client build their business too. Not so crazy now is it?
That’s how I was able to convince some big names over the years to go on record regarding work with my clients. (Including organizations that typically say no to this type of marketing as a rule.)
In many cases, these clients said yes because it was actually beneficial to them as they were getting media coverage, speaking engagements and so much more served up to them on a silver platter.
Don’t think just because you’re not selling a $100K server-based solution that the voice of the customer isn’t for you. Having a customer tell the story, instead of you spewing out another bullet list of benefits, is WAY more credible and helps to humanize what you do.
If you really want to stand out, this is a proven way to get the job done and rise above the sea of same-sy people in your market. Your ability to deliver this proof and share these stories could be the thing that helps you transform your business from average to amazing.
So, what are some ways you can mix things up and look beyond the testimonial?
There’s no better way to share a client’s transformation story than a case study. This format goes in-depth, looking at the challenge your client was facing as well as the solution and the results they’ve been able to achieve.
This doesn’t need to be a boring, corporate sounding PDF. It can be done in a way that’s appropriate to your brand from a blog post to a presentation. The choice is yours, but this type of marketing piece will help share a deeper story that goes beyond the quote.
Video testimonials can be incredibly compelling, but you’ve got so many more options than boring talking-head interviews. You could do a video case study that shares an more in-depth story of your client’s experience where they’re talking on camera and other footage is cut in.
Video content is pervasive so you can use anything from Facebook Live to Periscope to interviewing your customer live on a webinar or masterclass. Get creative with how you can team up with your clients for video content.
Speaking organizers love presentations that share a case study as it takes the concept and makes it tangible for the audience. If you’re interested in speaking, why not work with one of your superstar clients to co-present? This is an ideal way for you to get noticed as a speaker and wow the audience by having a powerful story from your client shared with a broader audience.
If you’re pursuing more traditional media placements, having a client or two that they can speak with as part of the story can help seal the deal. For many reporters, having this available is the answer between saying yes to your pitch and a big fat no, as this third party proof helps ensure you’re legit.
These are just a few ways you can showcase your client stories and I’m sure you can come up with even more. Why settle for the same story everyone else is telling when you can showcase yourself as a real leader by turning your customers into the hero?