UPDATE: View Rob Biesenbach’s slides on Unleashing the Power of Storytelling: Build Trust, Win Hearts, Change Minds from the recent FWD:B2B Conference. Rob shares his expertise on what goes into a good story and how you find, shape and tell powerful stories to better represent your brand in the marketplace.
There are few marketing tools as powerful as a customer success story. A well-crafted story resonates with your customers, brings their challenges to life, and points the way to solutions that your company is uniquely positioned to provide.
But as these stories make their way through the corporate approval process, they get dissected, diluted and drained of their humanity. The result is a dry, lifeless case study that buries the essential story elements in a mound of irrelevant detail.
Here’s how to keep your customer stories focused on what really matters.
The Critical Story Elements
There are countless ways to structure a story, but all great stories contain certain fundamental, universal elements:
Put these elements together and you’ll have no problem finding great stories to tell. What are your customers’ goals and what stands in the way of them achieving those goals? Can you find a relatable character who has overcome that challenge?
That’s your story.
How to Focus Your Story
Of course, just as important as what goes into your story is what you leave out. Because a perfectly good story can be ruined by a bunch of needless clutter.
Here are issues to watch out for:
Protect the Integrity of Your Story
As your story makes its way through the “approval by committee” process, your job is to preserve the integrity of the story so it still resonates with your audience and achieves your goal. Accuracy is important, of course, and claims need to be qualified, but the basic narrative needs to stay intact.
It doesn’t have to be an adversarial process. Accept the input that makes sense, but push back on those things that interfere with the narrative. Come at it from a perspective of “what CAN we say” versus “what CAN’T we say.”
Keep your eye on the goal: creating a compelling story that showcases your company’s value in a way that compels your customers to act.