How Your Customer Stories Can Distinguish You From the Herd
As a majority of consumers now read reviews before making a purchase, why not use positive testimonials to your advantage?
Today’s predominantly digital marketplace means that it has become increasingly more difficult for businesses to differentiate themselves and their brands from competitors.
Everyone has access to exactly the same customer information online. As a result, costly, time-consuming customer research has become a prerequisite for winning business, rather than any strategy to help firms stand out from the crowd.
Businesses such as consultancy, legal and IT companies have a particularly difficult job to poke their proverbial heads above the parapet, when so many competitors offer the same or similar services.
Yes – you can try and differentiate with a snazzy all bells and whistles website, funky brochure material, competitive price lists and key messaging around enhanced customer service. But let’s face it – this is exactly what your competitors are going to do too. So really, you are potentially back to square one regarding market differentiation if you go down this route alone.
Ultimately, no matter how upfront you are with your marketing messages, prospects are increasingly not prepared to just “take your word for it” when you explain to them why you’re the best consultancy to meet their needs. They want cold, hard proof of your skills and abilities and real-world examples of how you have helped previous clients successfully.
Given the fact that between 67% and 90% of prosumers – depending on which study you’re looking at – look at product or service reviews, case studies and client testimonials before deciding to make a purchase or buy-in a service – then it becomes pretty apparent that your testimonials and client stories are going to play a vital role in showing potential prospects just why you are better than the rest.
Why customer testimonials are different to traditional sales and marketing
Good client stories are also more effective than brochures and traditional sales collateral because at the end of the day, everyone loves a good story. A picture paints a thousand words. The stories you share ultimately paint pictures, evoke emotions and give your consultancy service offerings a sticky power that remains in potential buyers’ minds.
No one can sell your services better than your clients, so it is imperative that you give your client stories the attention they rightfully deserve. So put case studies at the top of your business agenda now, and make sure you write them up and organise them effectively. A bad case study that’s lengthy, verbose and packed full of jargon is going to be potentially alienating, rather than engaging – and in many cases, could be worse than having no case study at all. If you want to create a good case study that gets read and gets results, keep these five tips in mind:
1. Make it easy on the eye and easy to read
Format your case study with clear headlines, subheads, bullets and bold and italicised text. Think about incorporating strong and reinforcing infographics to demonstrate success, not just text. Consider different formats, such as video or podcasts in the bid to create ever more exciting stories.
2. Create the right story
Ultimately a case study is a story about solving a problem. Detail the challenge that the client faced, the solution to that challenge and the benefits that were gained. Consider which success stories will be most appealing to the type of clients you are trying to attract, and which ones will ultimately support your business goals – such as breaking into new markets.
3. Brevity is the soul of …clarity
Case studies should be concise and ideally under 1,000 words unless they are very technically specific. You can always link your case study to other supporting documents online, so you do not need to be salesy. Try a maximum of 750 words – and then see if you can take 10% of the words away.
4. Write to brand guidelines or a template
Have a clearly thought out brand style and feel to all your stories to ensure consistency, and make sure these are available to all authors.
5. Store your stories in a centrally-accessible database
Make sure your database is also easily searchable, by tagging case studies with a range of metadata, such as whether the story has client sign-off, etc.
Good client stories are the foundation of the “why” behind your product or service, and provide a powerful vehicle to assert your authority within your industry. The uniqueness of each well-written or visually appealing success story is the equivalent of wearing a bright green, fluorescent jumper to a board meeting full of dark grey suits.
There’s simply no need to drown in the sea of sameness if you can shout about your client successes well.
Sarah Dillingham is founder of CaseStudyNinja.com