As an effective and captivating way to tell a brand’s message and strengthen the bottom line, the voices of your customers speak clearly, loudly and proudly. But as with any business, there is always so much to do, and yet, so little time to execute.
That’s why outlining ways to weave in customer stories into your goals is a smart way to ensure you actually check the box off. In addition to hiring a killer wordsmith who can communicate the stellar reviews of your biggest fans in an easy-to-read manner, consider setting these mile-markers for the year ahead, to keep yourself focused and aligned toward a stronger brand marketing presence.
Here’s how to use customer stories in five attainable ways:
Goal #1: Use customer stories to humanize your brand.
Take a moment, break-up with your iPhone and laptop, and pull out a good ‘ole fashioned piece of paper. Now, without the help of Google, make a list of companies that you buy from regularly.
From necessities like toilet paper to luxury items like heirloom watches or jewelry, there is likely one thread that could tie them together: sincerity. And also: trust. What creates long-term relationships and repeat-purchases or contracts it the ability to relate to a company.
As Becca Hoeft, the chief brand officer at Sunrise Banks explains, making the goal of being more human and less corporate is an easy way to weave in client reviews. This might mean replacing one of your typical newsletters with a call-to-action that’s buy-buy-buy with a customer story that’s more focused on connection.
As Hoeft explains:
These stories aren’t focused on your brand, but instead on your customers and what they bring to the table. That’s a refreshing perspective in a marketplace that’s often filled with calls to action.
Goal #2: Use customer stories to cement your leadership in the marketplace.
Even if you happen to be placing your bets in a crowded industry, each brand has a unique message to send. The hurdle to overcome, of course, is to tell it in a way that matters and aligns with your target audience.
That’s why communications consultant Jennifer Johnson suggests setting a new goal around your marketing milestones.
With every touchpoint, ensure your wording touches the aspects of your business that loyal customers care about the most. Well, how do you know what they like? Or more so: what they love? By talking to them, of course.
After conducting a handful of interviews in quarter one, take the early part of quarter two to dig deep, advises Johnson:
Take a close look at your customer stories with an eye toward how your brand solved a problem or added value to the person’s life. Use this information to build those particular aspects of your brand.
Goal #3: Use customer stories to increase engagement.
There’s plenty of noise to be found on the internet — whether or not you go looking for it. Pop-up ads, an inbox full of newsletters, content that’s created in the masses, and the list goes on.
The smartest companies aren’t afraid to be different, bold or even pioneering. And they know that constantly pitching their sales objective isn’t the ticket to success. Rather, they know how vital it is to create shareable, interesting dialogues that keep attention.
Just think of Spotify’s Year in Review, or those Superbowl commercials that always make you tear up as a real person shares how something impacted their life. No matter how you use customer stories, this angle is much more likely to draw someone in.
As Hoeft says:
Today, brands need to create content that goes beyond the sales pitch, and do so on multiple platforms to connect with an online audience. Human interest stories can also go a long way in bolstering your PR strategy — reporters will take notice if you introduce a story or idea they haven’t covered yet.
Goal #4: Use customer stories to expand your social media strategy.
One of the lowest hanging fruits — so to speak — with customer stories are found in social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, these viral destinations allow you to connect, in real time, with past, current and potential customers.
Consider making these platforms your first goal with customer story integration. Johnson says you can incorporate videos, images or text with client journeys, and then turn the camera back to the brand, go give them a behind-the-scenes perspective:
Focus your goals on making those unseen parts of your business more visible and increase your marketing efforts around them. Set small, manageable goals to increase your brand’s visibility over time. Targeted blog posts and social media posts can go a long way toward demonstrating the value of your products and services.
Goal #5: Create stronger relationships through customer stories.
Here’s the deal: most people enjoy being in the limelight. And the reality is, very few will ever be presented with the opportunity. So when you reach out to a loyal customer, and explain your hope to share their experiences, their photo or even develop a video around their unique journey, chances are high they’ll be stoked. Especially when you pair them with a talented writer who can dig deep and pull out the best nuggets for a feature — they will feel incredibly special.
In return, this builds an even stronger relationship and will make it more likely potential clients will consider your services or products.
Creating brand journalism stories is a good way to build client relationships, and if you create a piece of content that increase engagement for your client, they’ll be extremely grateful. This strengthens a client relationship and may even lead to more business.
A smart goal can be reaching a certain amount of people through your customer stories, and finding data-driven ways to track conversions so you can make a case for further client-first campaigns in the future.