Let Your Customers Do Your Selling

Your customers are among your company’s most valuable assets, but you might be able to obtain even more value from them: they can help do your selling for you! Customer success stories are a terrific way to present the benefits of your offerings, since they provide real-world examples of your offerings in action from an objective source.

Small business owners prefer case studies because they like to learn from their peers. In a recent survey (http://bit.ly/oMeb36)  conducted by Bredin Business Information , small business owners ranked case studies behind articles and forums as their most preferred educational content format, ahead of white papers, webcasts, blogs, interactive tools and podcasts/videos.

Here’s how to develop compelling case studies:

Find the right story to tell. Ask your sales and customer service teams to relay names of customers who provide positive feedback, and monitor what’s being said on your social networking sites or your forum or message board. When you reach out to these “advocates” to see if they are willing to be profiled, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised – they are often extremely enthusiastic, happy to help, and happy to have their own businesses promoted.

Make your customer the hero. To make your case study persuasive, present it thoroughly from your customer’s point of view. Tell their story in four parts:

 1. Customer: Briefly describe your customer’s organization
 2. Challenge: Present the pain points that your customer faced
 3. Solution: Show how your customer resolved the situation using your product or service
 4. Results: Describe how your customer has improved their results by using your offerings

Let the details shine. Developing a truly informative case study requires a lengthy interview with the customer. Ask what issues they faced, how that led them to look for a solution, and why they chose your product or service. Concentrate on how your offering solved their problem and dig for specific, measurable results (e.g., time or money saved, customer satisfaction improved, return on investment) since these details make your story more credible and compelling.

Add color through quotes. The power of a good case study is when you can tell a story that highlights your offering in your customer’s voice. Include several direct quotes from the customer to make the story sound authentic. Select one or two of the best quotes and place them prominently in the layout.

Choose the right format. Think about how you want to tell the customer’s story – for example via an article, social media posting, podcast or video. Articles are a very popular format and require less work than podcasts or videos; they can also easily be converted to print pieces for use in meetings and events. If you do a podcast or video, be sure to rehearse with the customer so they come across as natural and relaxed.

Spread the word. Case studies are a versatile marketing tool. Post them on your website (ideally close to the relevant offerings) and social media outlets, promote them via PR and distribute them at events. Develop a library of case studies so diverse prospects can see how your offerings are relevant to businesses like theirs.

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About Vic Levinson
Telecommunications and IT professional with over 20 years experience in Business Telecommunications. Specializing in voice over IP (VoIP) for business: hosted VoIP, business VoIP phone systems, SIP providers, carriers, T1's - the works. Founded Prime Telecommunications in 1993 and providing business communications solutions. Cloud Applications- everything from hosted network security, hosted Disaster Recovery, hosted printer management, data centers and colocation solutions for businesses.

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