Whether you’re a business owner, writer or marketer, you’re likely thinking about ways to increase your results this year. How do you plan and create customer stories that deliver the highest return on your investment?
Plan to succeed by having a plan for 2008. Here’s how business owners, marketers and writers can approach customer story planning and creation—now—to ensure optimal results this year:
Planning for Business Owners/Marketers
1. Story inventory
Start by assessing your current database of customer stories. Understand which products and services are represented across which types of industries, customer sizes, or geographies.
2. Survey the field
Connect with your sales reps in person, by phone or email, or with a survey, asking which stories they need for sales initiatives and events this year. Strongly encourage (or require) participation, reminding sales reps that customer stories are tools designed to help them close sales. Ask about key events throughout the year, like trade shows, and find out what your PR team needs for media pitches.
3. Create a wish list
Compare your current inventory with the needs communicated from the field. From there, create a wish list. Then take the next step of matching needs with your budget. Prioritize the wish list in order of importance and begin the process of pursuing those stories. If you can only do a certain number of stories, which ones will deliver the greatest return for the investment? Can one customer story represent multiple products, services and geographies? Find ways to be efficient in each story while still being relevant to your audience.
Planning for Writers
Organizations plan the types of stories they need, but writers must ensure that each story meets the objective. By doing so, you create stories that truly impact your organization’s or client’s efforts.
1. Ask questions before talking to end customers
Ask marketing or product managers: How will the story be used? Who’s the audience? What competitive differentiators should the story include? What are possible areas of measurable results for the customer? What does the story need to say to meet your goals?
2. Craft questions conscientiously
Map your interview questions exactly to the information you need to meet the end goal.
3. Highlight key messages
Write your story in a way that highlights the most important messages for the products, services and audiences the story should hit. Reinforce those key messages in the headline, subhead, featured quotes and sidebar content.
Taking these steps with every customer story will help ensure that the content pulls its weight in selling the featured solutions.