If you have a line of customers ready to give you money for your products and services but you don’t have enough staff to take care of business, you have a big problem. It’s a problem that isn’t going to resolve itself any time soon. National unemployment is just under 4%, while here in Minnesota, that number is even lower, hovering at just under 3% for the last four months according to the Minnesota Employment and Economic Development bureau. How can businesses compete for the labor they need to advance their plans for growth? One tactic business owners and HR professionals are turning to is Content Marketing, and the creation of employee stories to connect with people and build relationships with them through their online interactions.
If you ask, your clients are generally happy to put out a good word for you. They’ll refer you to their friends and colleagues. They’ll respond to your customer satisfaction surveys with high marks and a smiley face. They’ll even give you a favorable review on Facebook or Google. Unfortunately, the feedback, while good, isn’t necessarily compelling because what they have to say is flat. That is, it doesn’t take the reader up and over the dramatic arc, a necessity if you want to activate empathy – which you do.
If you want to use case studies to differentiate your business and gain buyers’ trust, the first thing you need to do is find the stories that you need to tell. Once you know how to uncover these stories, and you get your whole company involved, you’ll discover that you have a consistent source of ideas for the best type of content that influences your buyers’ decisions. No special tools are needed to give these five tactics a try.
You just published a case study on your website. As you look at the text on the web page, you recall all the effort that went into the piece. It’s not always easy to get people to open up, but not only did you get a unique angle with which to describe the outcome of your work, you also got some great insights about your client’s experience that you can take to your team. Now is no time to sit back and bask in your client’s glowing words. It’s time to get to work to promote your case study.
I know why you haven’t started using a storytelling approach to your marketing and communications. You’ve been hearing about it everywhere – from your industry organization, in your social media feed, at training events. You’re sold on its power to connect, persuade and motivate people. You just haven’t taken that first step. Here’s why. You don’t know how to find the stories you need to tell.
Just before sitting down to write this, I had to do a search to see if you could still get jack-in-the-box toys. You can. You can get them in even more variations than the standard clown that was the norm when I was growing up. The ageless thrill of the jack-in-the-box is a mixture of predictability and surprise. You know as you turn the handle what’s going to happen. Yet when the lid flips up and the toy pops out, it’s always a surprise. This is what happens in storytelling, and I call it impact and insight.
“Everyone is so happy with the completion of our big project implementation. Sure, there were a few problems to troubleshoot along the way, but your team stuck with it and performed brilliantly. We now have a system that is operating at capacity and is creating the real time results that we need to meet our goals.”
Zzzzzz…. Is it over?
Case studies are the classic client stories. The usual format takes you through three phases: the situation, what the vendor did, and the outcome. It’s common to focus on the middle phase and blow your own horn talking about yourself and your work, but there’s a different way to tell your client stories that will enable sales and guide your prospect to a decision. Paint a better picture of what life looked like before and after you came on the scene, and you’ll have a more powerful way to connect with people and influence their decision-making process.
Case studies are one of the very best ways to demonstrate how your products and services have met the needs of your clients. In the B2B world, the buying decision may include many people and is more emotional than a B2C decision because of what is at stake. Case studies have long been recognized as a way to help in the decision making process, to validate choices, and nurture trust. They can be even more powerful when they are presented in a storytelling format that focuses more on what happened to the client, than on the products and services they used.
To be adept at business storytelling, you must first be a listener. This is because the story that you need to tell is not the one about you, what you do and how you do it. It’s the story about your client, their problem and the journey they went on to find a solution. How do you get your client’s story, and what do you do with it?