Ever heard the riddle about the tree falling in the forest?
It asks, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” The philosophical argument is that if no one is around to see or hear the tree, how could anyone even say it exists? Businesses would be wise to make sure their customer success isn’t a best kept secret, too.
Well-told customer success stories can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. When used effectively, storytelling can turn customer success into marketing gold. Especially for seemingly ordinary B2B products.
One good story can make an ordinary product stand out by capturing a few extraordinary moments in time. This guide explains how. It examines the traits of great storytelling for judging contestants of The Marketing Results Club Award.
Customer Success Story Basics
There are two essential ingredients of a great customer success story. These are customer derived benefits and great storytelling.
- Customer benefits
- Great storytelling
The 6 Master Customer Benefits
Companies may sell products, but what customers really want is a totally satisfying end-to-end buying experience. This includes their entire journey, everything from engaging marketing materials and the product to ongoing support. It may even include how the company answers their phone.
Literally everything counts when selling a product. Everything. In other words, your business is your product. Here are the 6 master customer benefits to consider:
- FUNCTIONALITY – A product or service must get the job done. But even products unable to differentiate functionally, can still gain market leadership in other ways.
- IMPACT – People get information through their 5 senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Any of these sensory inputs could represent a customer benefit.
- EMOTION – All information is first processed by people as emotion. Emotions mix with memories that may be positive or negative. Positive associations can represent a benefit for customers.
- LOGIC – The more reasons a customer has to buy a product, the more they’ll benefit from using it.
- VALUE – Value does not necessarily mean low price. It could mean a higher price supported by a better ROI, or possibly best-in-class status. The value of a product could be further increased with a value-added solution.
- ACCESS, CONVENIENCE – The internet can give customers quick and easy access to tools or information that saves them time and money or improves their results.
The 10 Traits of Great Storytelling
There are many traits to a great customer success story. The more of them a story leverages, the more memorable and effective it can be. Typically, a well-told story includes the following…
- ORIGINALITY – The human brain is unique attuned to listen for information that is “new,” such as an innovative product solution. Or, “danger,” and a way to avoid such risks.
- MAGNETISM – What interests people is something exciting or emotional. Even with B2B products. Storytellers must find a way to make readers care about the story being told.
- FOCUS – To be powerful, a story must focus on a well-defined series of events or a single moment in time.
- CLARITY – Success stories are usually told in the third person. The storyteller must provide clear details on events, people, time and place.
- TENSION – Not only must you get the audience’s attention at the beginning of the story, you must hold it until the end. You can do this by following a story arc.
- STRUCTURE – Great stories follow a “story arc.” This takes the listener on a sequential journey. It starts with exposition, rising action, and climax, and then on to falling action and resolution.
- FLOW – Great storytelling, like great writing uses transitions and connecting words to illustrate the sequence of events. (E.g. First…, Next…, then…, etc.)
- DETAILS – Real world details about characters and locations will bring a story to life. These descriptive elements show the reader what happened rather than just saying it occurred.
- IMPACT – When a story describes how a product exceeded customer expectations, it has the “wow” factor. This turns the ordinary into the extraordinary, and creates marketing gold.
- BREVITY – A great story will include all the essential information, but can be told in only a few minutes. So, less is more.