Testimonial Storytelling Implementation Guideline

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This guideline was crafted for The Women's Center. For official use only.

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Testimonial Storytelling Implementation Guideline

  1. 1. Testimonial Storytelling: Implementation Guideline How to tell a story that connects, captivates, and inspires an audience to take action. December 2012 1
  2. 2. Introduction: Implementation Guideline What is testimonial storytelling? Situation analysis Who can be featured? Who are the stories for? Through what channels? General Tips Mockups Paige’s Story Caroline’s Story Table of Contents: 2
  3. 3. “Attention is the reward that listeners bestow on the storyteller.” – Steve Denning, Forbes Storytelling is the most compelling way to get someone to take in information, to create a connection, to capture attention. Not only is storytelling an effective way to show how the Center can help future clients and encourage someone to take action (i.e., make an appointment), testimonial storytelling is user- generated content. That is, the Center’s clients’ experiences, recommendations, reviews, etc., are already in existence. The Center has the opportunity to share those stories with others to shed light on how they too can get help. This “Testimonial Storytelling Implementation Guideline” provides recommendations for how a Story Page and other testimonial storytelling types can greatly help the Center draw in new clients. Our Georgetown Public Relations & Corporate Communications Cause Consulting team hopes this will help The Women’s Center to find more ways to share the incredible ways it has helped and continues to help so many women, men, and children. Implementation Guideline: 3
  4. 4. What is testimonial storytelling? A story about how The Women’s Center has impacted a specific person’s life. People are compelled to listen to stories. If told well, testimonial stories compel people to share that story, or take action. You want your audience to do both: 1) Tell others about the Center’s impact 2) Make an appointment with the Center The rest of your website and marketing materials are generally more universal in nature - speaking to the faceless “you” about a group of people the Center helps based on a situation or need. A testimonial story is the chance for you to bring the true impact the Center has had on a specific person to life for others. Luckily, the Center fares better than Calvin in the comic to the left, at least with regards to inspiration. The great thing about testimonials is that they are user generated. This means that the inspired piece, the creativity necessary for the story, already exists. It lies in what your past and current clients send to you and provide you with in the form of letters, feedback, surveys, thank-you cards, etc. All the Center needs to do is transform those testimonials into stories. 4
  5. 5. Situation Analysis: You’re doing great! And now you can do more. Our Georgetown team saw the YouTube video, “Paige’s Story,” and loved it. The video encapsulated exactly what a testimonial story is. It is compelling, truthful, and this one was so raw and touching. However, Paige’s story was shared only in the Center’s newsletter in relation to the gala. Yet her story, and many others like it or about other situations the Center has helped with, can be related to a greater audience – everyone. Share The Women’s Center’s story by sharing the stories of those you have helped. The Recommendations section on the Center’s Facebook page. is miles ahead of what other similar non-urgent care services provide. This is a great resource to have, even if it is not yet popular, because this advertises the fact that the Center is calling for recommendations – and that people have spoken. The more you tell the Center’s stories of how it has impacted others, the more conversations will be sparked about you. “It’s important to have some place to go … a safe place and safe people … and I don’t know what I would have done without The Women’s Center.” - Paige 5
  6. 6. Who are the stories for? Everyone. This audience includes people who already go to The Women’s Center – for workshops, volunteering opportunities, clinical services, and more. In order to encourage crossover clients - clients turning to the Center for multiple, various services – showing them what else is available is key. These are people referred to the Center or who stumble across your services. Their interest will more likely turn into action (i.e., calling to set up an appointment). Testimonial storytelling is the perfect tool for reaching both types of audiences. Current clients: Future clients: Who can be featured? Anyone. Show future volunteers, donors, clients see who is dedicated to the various causes the Center supports. Show volunteers and their families at events, after events, in medias res. Let people meet the instructors they will pay to see. Seeing who donates funds, who provides for these services, is integral. These are people helping too. The staff. Your enthusiasm and dedication to helping and serving is inspiring. Share your shared successes, funny experiences, poignant moments. Paige’s story was incredible and touching. Stories like that are what make people see the impact the Center has.. You: Clients: Volunteers: Workshop Instructors: Donors: 6
  7. 7. There’s nothing wrong with the classic editorial structure for a web page testimonial story. It’s what people are comfortable with, and that can work in your favor. Start with a compelling hook line, then expand. Your audience is reading your client’s story because they can relate, empathize. Enhance the blocks of text with a photo or a brief audio clip (e.g., the client saying, “My name is XYZ, and this is my story.”). A couple of paragraphs from the client’s perspective works perfectly. Introduce the situation, who the client is, how he/she found the Center, what you and the client accomplished together. If the client writes his or her own story, that’s great! If not, be sure to include your client’s quotes and write from that person’s perspective. Through what channels? Any. All. Story Page (i.e., hardcopy, web page): Make the client the actor versus the subject. (e.g., “Paige found it within herself to call the Center, to make an appointment, and then to speak about what happened. She was proud of having the strength to take action after many years of silence, and the Center was there when she needed it.” Rather than: “The Women’s Center helped Paige to learn to speak about what happened to her.”) To help with conciseness and clarity, ask yourself, “Does this matter to a future client?” after every sentence. If the answer is no, it’s perfectly fine to delete it. These days, with people’s rapidly deteriorating attention spans, shorter is better. Examples: Pratham International has truly testimonial stories on their “Impact” pages. See Kartik’s story here: http://www.prathamusa.org/impact/kartiks-story The Red Cross also has wonderful stories on its “Real Life Stories” web page: http://www.redcross.org/real-life-stories 7
  8. 8. Using a few photos with captions to tell a person’s story or putting together a photo gallery/slideshow is an effective way to immediately garner interest. Through what channels (cont.)? Any. All. Photo (e.g., real life event photos, stock photos): Examples: Housing Works includes great quotes with photos of those who provided their testimonials on the front of their main page: http://www.housingworks.org/ You can create a web page for videos like Paige’s Story. Merely embed the video, include a caption or short summary, and that’s a great testimonial story to add to your website. Video (i.e., just like Paige’s Story!): For anything posted on your web site – on a story page, for example – you should post on your social media channels to promote the story’s addition. If you choose to post Paige’s story on a web page, you can Tweet about it with a link, and you can also post on Facebook with a brief summarizing sentence to entice others to click a link to the video and hear Paige’s testimonial. Social Media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube): Please refer to the Social Media Playbook for further guidance. 8
  9. 9. General tips: Show, don’t tell: This doesn’t just mean use visuals. It means bring your audience into the moment. With a text-based story, ask the storyteller to describe how things felt, the physical setting (sights, smells, sounds), actual dialogue as remembered. If possible, provide a photo for each name so readers can visualize the people, the places. Don’t make the story’s focus on the Center, at least not initially, but about your client and his or her story – on the impact the Center has had. True, compelling stories have a beginning, middle, and end. We don’t always know how the story ends, but it’s best to end the story on a positive, opportunity-filled note. Even if there is a lot more help to be had, if your client sees improvement, if the Center has had even the smallest impact, that is a great ending already. Do not try to polish the language or writing in your testimonial stories. Apart from punctuation or spelling edits, keep everything as authentic as possible to truly let your client speak. Focus on the impact: Keep the structure in mind: Remain authentic: 9
  10. 10. Mockups: Story Page Sample (for a video): Because you already have such a touching, impactful story in the video about Paige, you can get a head start and create a web page for that testimonial story. In the sample to the right, the video is embedded in the web page. There is a one- paragraph description below it, as well as a very important quote from the video. That quote further draws in people viewing this web page, makes them want to know more about Paige, about how she overcame her struggle, and how The Women’s Center was there to help. The Women’s Center has the tools it needs to show future clients how it can help. You just need to spread the word. Paige’s Story 10
  11. 11. Mockups: Story Page Sample (for a photo): The Women’s Center touches so many lives, and people continue to shower you with praise. Letters, thank you and greeting cards, workshop feedback, survey results – all of these are forms of testimonials. The Center has the opportunity to turn those testimonials into stories. Share those positive words and good will with future clients. Show your future clients how they too may be impacted, how they can get help from the Center. Caroline’s Story 11
  12. 12. 12 We hope this Implementation Guideline has been helpful! Thank you! Testimonial Storytelling: Implementation Guideline

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