Customer Stories: How to Uncover a Boatload of New Content

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You tell your story best, right? Not always. Your existing clients and customers can provide inspiration for a plethora of new and powerful content. That is, if you let them. This session will help you discover compelling and engaging new content that literally speaks the language of your best customers. See real-life examples, how they evolved and how to weave similar techniques into your own organization’s content marketing.

- Learn why customer stories should be a continuous priority on your editorial calendar
- How to transform a single interview into multiple forms of customer-inspired content
- Learn the top techniques for creating customer stories that leave readers saying, “tell me more!"
- How to help your customers “open up” to tell their stories in meaningful ways
- How to maximize the "other ROI" (Return on Interview)
- How to create internal systems and processes for sharing interviews with multiple content producers and planners
- Learn from real-life examples of customer-inspired content, how it was organized and the processes used

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  • You run into your best customerYou run into your best prospect
  • You run into your best customerYou run into your best prospectImagine you run into your best customer and a prospect who you *know* would love your product or service. You need to do three things:#1 one makes sense. Why #2 and #3?Your customer will tell their story (and your story) far better than you ever will.That prospect will listen to the customer more than they’ll listen to you.As content marketers #2 and #3 can be really hard. We want to be able to go back to the CEO, CMO, for agencies, the client … and say… look what WE created.
  • Brilliance here is NOT about what we CREATE or DIRECT. Less about controlling a vision.(Don’t Start With the End in Mind)
  • Brilliance here is NOT about what we CREATE. It’s about how well we FACILITATE and CAPTURE stories from others. Customer Stories eventually become your story.Devoid of writing/editing and creativity? No. Just the very LAST part of the process.
  • Customer Stories directly tackle two biggest challenges faced by Content Marketers
  • According to your peers, yes. Case Studies are the accepted “Gold Standard” of customer storiesDoesn’t mean 70% are actually *publishing* case studies.Yes. Because prospects are human beings. Real people. They trust WOM more than marketing. Goes for B2C and B2B.http://blog.zuberance.com/social-marketing/debunking-top-five-myths-of-b2b-word-of-mouth-marketing/
  • Customer Stories directly tackle two biggest challenges faced by Content MarketersNot only do Customer Stories engage customers, a well-prepared and researched story will unlock a boatload of content opps — well beyond the case study.
  • Real Life Example. From Well Planned WebOne story yielded(blog posts keep growing)Enough content?Most would say yes.Top two issues – customer stories can help tackle like no other.
  • Let’s look at the cast of characters:MediaLab (full disclosure, client of Well Planned Web)Help their customers’ customers engage with their product — full understand it.Take a consultative role/approach
  • Background on MediaLabA number of customers. Multiply that content by seven.
  • In order to unlock the impact of Customer Stories … and that abundance of content…positioning is critical…This can be hard to remember when you have a CEO/CMO/Client (if you’re an agency) breathing down your neck.
  • ***Not the helpless damsel in distress.***Story of customer who begged us not to make her/her department look like an idiot.Affects: Questions you askHow you introduce themAngle of the content
  • Customer tells the story of the animation’s value. Not MediaLab. They’ve introduced. Shut up and gotten outta the way.Note the “our” language? Whirlpool owns the experience of learning why product animation was a fit for them.
  • “People” note — something MediaLab constantly battles. Whirlpool is making the argument for them.CONTENT Flag – So many *other* clients and prospects had the same assumption about people in demos.
  • Customer Interviews / Stories:The gift that keeps on giving!
  • “People” note — something MediaLab constantly battles. Whirlpool is making the argument for them.CONTENT Flag – So many *other* clients and prospects had the same assumption about people in demos.
  • Translation: MediaLab’s animations rock.  Traditional Printed Materials weren’t cuttin’ it.
  • Traditional Printed Materials weren’t cuttin’ it.Customers preferred the animation over printed guides.BLACK & DECKER had the same story.
  • Extreme example.We didn’t go in intending to do this. But the story was THAT good.(Not that WE were that good or that MediaLab was that good.  — the customer’s STORY was that good)
  • People often want to sound “smarter” or more “important.” NOT relatable. Break though that with relatable bite. Push for “real” speech from the customer.When a customer interview starts sounding like a jargon-fest. Get it back to relatable language.LEFT: Velveeta Cheese – homogized, overly corporate speechized dude.Don’t stop with “results” speakRound out stats, ROI and percentages with…sound bites, drama, emotion and humor.
  • Difference b/w Flobot and FloResults are important.Relatability too.People often want to sound “smarter” or more “important.” NOT relatable. Break though that with relatable bite. Push for “real” speech from the customer.Don’t stop with “results” speakRound out stats, ROI and percentages with…sound bites, drama, emotion and humor.
  • Shows vulnerability, life, reality.Challenge your customers to speak like a human.
  • Stats vs. emotional stats.Someone you’d have coffee with.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: Make sure your story is RELEVANT.Your customer’s story may be great, but make sure you’re gleaning RELEVANT stories from them. Otherwise, you’ll have a great story — that generates zero interest….zero leads.Customer is Hero.Prospect is Audience. (MUST know your ideal audience here, people!) Personas, profiles***“Mission Critical” content.RELEVANCE: a dance. Not something you can force or push. You research and gather and identify the commonalities. The sweet spot.Ask the right questions. Capture the story effectively. Do your research. All without a forced hand.
  • Best way is an interview. If it’s one-way — that’s a testimonial. To get the best story…be a reporter. Submitting a form = testimonialSTORY = interviewElectronic age. Easier. Not better.NEED the dialogueWill be limited.
  • On your side:Those who interface with customers regularly know when there’s a story.
  • Notice none of those people from the prior list are on this one?Buzzer. NOT the best people to CONDUCT. TOO CLOSE/Person must be VERY good at making others feel comfortable. EVEN if that person won’t be executing the content in the end — if they have the personality that people gush to, USE EM!
  • WHO IS best? - The people in this room Person must be VERY good at making others feel comfortable. EVEN if that person won’t be executing the content in the end — if they have the personality that people gush to, USE EM!Don’t’ discount Outside Agencies – Can be BEST at pulling out customer stories. Even MORE removed. Customer realizes they need to start at 30,000 foot level. PREPARED but removed.
  • Assumed: One you’re prepared for.Surprise story.Prepare for one — hope for both.Don’t be a control freak. Welcome the detours.Sometimes the best stories are in the tangents and the detours. Welcome it and be ready for it.
  • Another MediaLab clientWe prepared for assumed.Havens: beach, Greece. Amazing environments that they could have never achieved with a homebuilder and a real-life set.Not locked into one vision: Tropical or Greece? 3D allowed them to decide.Control over every detail. White towels = change to pots, shell. They LOVED this.Images are everywhere. Basco fell in love with their own product — through MediaLab. Amazing story — only through interview/tangent. Not through an email or questionnaire.The team found that, even under ideal circumstances, it would have been impossible to arrange all eight set shots simultaneously with the homebuilders —  especially since this was a new line and the product was still being designed and sourced. Basco also realized that, while building customized sets seemed to be the obvious answer, it was going to be cost prohibitive.By utilizing 3D Set Shots, we eliminated the risk of having time and resources wasted. (Client did not have to be visionary, which was a benefit/insight brought up by the client that had not been discussed previously internally.  The client shed light on a new pain point our target audience faces.)Being a 3D environment, the team had control over every element. From the lighting, to the towels, to the cabinetry and showerheads —  every detail fit the personality of each collection and communicated luxury.
  • Notice these aren’t questions at all?Can’t be a “yes/no” answerInvites them to talk. Forces you to “shut up” Let silence happen.
  • Listen through the lens of your prospect.Spend time on these… base them on homework and research. Hope you won’t need them.
  • We’re just gonna have some coffee, sit back, and talk about how you kick ass.If you’re comfortable, THEY’RE comfortable.
  • Make it a brag-safe environment.Help THEM see their accomplishmentsNo right or wrong answerTrying to be overly humbleMake it okay for them to be the rock starSometimes they don’t go in knowing that.May have to put some words into their mouth to start (But I heard you increased sales by 25%)
  • Great story but may NOT be relevant
  • SOOO important. Most people don’t do it.You’re a “reporter” not a secretary!Keeps you focused on interview, listening, relevancy and shifting questions. CONVERSATION.You won’t have to ask them to repeat themselves. Reminds them that this isn’t just a conversation. They’ll never say it the same way twice. Use two forms when possibleUnless you have photographic ears, just record it!Careful with videoFor the gain of video, gamble of an inauthentic interviewCamera = third person in the room.
  • You’ve conducted the interview.Transcribe – good to revisit actual recording at times for voice, tone, inflection — 2nd time around you hear a LOT.Note content *ideas* along the way… You can learn to be a better interviewer too.You get to add the gorgeous glue that holds it all together! Transitions, drama — as the front-row witness to the story your customer just told you. The story won’t write itself, but you’ll have a goldmine to work with.
  • Long way to go. If you stop now, you’re cutting yourself short and not breathing full life into your story that could be.
  • Masterpiece is done! But you’re not done yet!As busy people. it’s our nature to check things off a list and move on.If you stop now, you’re creating a dead-end for your story. Get the full mileage!
  • DO not be an content hoarder! YOU’RE responsible for sharing the love It’s your job to evangelize that content internally!That blog your teammate writes three months from NOW can feature a quote you got three months AGO.Do it while it’s fresh. Do not launch and leave.Even in master story, you likely will never use entire interview.Enterprise uses internal systems — small to medium — consider file/workspace collaboration like CD, Box.net… there are a gazillion. Even if you are a content team of one – log it all. Your brain, sanity and content will thank you  WE COLLABORATE BY TAGGING Be sure you can tag so that all is searchable.TAG everything. Tag the snot out of everything.“We need another quote on ‘x””
  • The best content comes through collaboration…. Or as we like to call it….TaglaborationNow when you start planning that White Paper, blog post, infographic — you’ll have a searchable database.You begin to build a collection of stories and content that grows exponentially. And REMEMBER — this is the content that resonates with prospects most.
  • Customer Interviews / Stories:The gift that keeps on giving!Content that engages and resonates with prospects and customers.“Enough” Content?
  • Get Ready for an editorial calendar explosion
  • Doesn’t mean you’ll be less busy. In fact you’ll be inundated with content opportunities. HOW FUN IS THAT!Enough ContentProven to be Engaging
  • Customer Stories: How to Uncover a Boatload of New Content

    1. 1. Twitter: @goldasich Customer Stories: How to Uncover a Boatload of New Content Deana Goldasich Well Planned Web, LLC Twitter: @goldasich
    2. 2. Twitter: @goldasich Customer Stories 1. Introduce 2. Shut Up 3. Get Out of the Way
    3. 3. Twitter: @goldasich Customer Stories Create Imagine Dream Direct “Brilliance” Is Less About How Well You… Customer Stories Can’t Come From a Controlled Vision
    4. 4. Twitter: @goldasich Customer Stories Facilitate Capture Glean Listen Customer Stories Become Your Story. “Brilliance” Is More About How Well You…
    5. 5. Twitter: @goldasich Do Customer Stories Really Matter? Producing content that engages prospects —B2B Content Mktg: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets &Trends #1 Challenge for Content Marketers today:
    6. 6. Twitter: @goldasich Do Customer Stories Engage? Business decision makers say: Friends & colleagues are the #1 influencer of B2B purchase decisions. 8 out of 10 consumers say that opinions and recommendations from people they don't know indicate brand quality and influence what they buy. — Bazaarvoice Survey 70% of Content Marketers say: Case Studies are ―Effective‖ or ―Very Effective.‖ —B2B Content Mktg: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets &Trends
    7. 7. Twitter: @goldasich Do Customer Stories Really Matter? Producing enough content —B2B Content Mktg: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets &Trends #2 Challenge for Content Marketers today:
    8. 8. Twitter: @goldasich 1 Customer Story 1 Internal Customer Email 2 Infographics9 Blog Posts 10+ External Drip Emails 2 White Papers 3 Case Studies 11 Testimonial Quotes
    9. 9. Twitter: @goldasich • 3D Interactive Animations • 3D Cutaways / Exploded Views • 3D Product Images/Spinners • Interactive Floor Plans • Architectural Renderings • 3D Set Shots / Interiors
    10. 10. Twitter: @goldasich Multiple Stories = Abundant Content!COMPANY CUSTOMERS
    11. 11. Twitter: @goldasich Position Your Customer. Not Your Brand. ( Psst! It’s not about you. )
    12. 12. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 1. Make the customer the HERO. – They saved the day. – They came up with the solution. – They reaped the rewards. You may have created the solution, but your customer owns the experience.
    13. 13. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 1. Make the customer the HERO. Whirlpool Quote: “In our dishwasher animation, you actually see the tool going in, tightening bolts, connecting wires, and showing how everything works together.
    14. 14. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 1. Make the customer the HERO. Whirlpool Quote: “We realized you don’t want a person in the demonstrations because they take up too much real estate – especially when your customer is viewing the demo on a small screen like a smart phone.”
    15. 15. Twitter: @goldasich 1 Customer Story 1 Internal Customer Email 2 Infographics9 Blog Posts 10+ External Drip Emails 2 White Papers 3 Case Studies 11 Testimonial Quotes
    16. 16. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 1. Make the customer the HERO. Whirlpool Quote: “We realized you don’t want a person in the demonstrations because they take up too much real estate – especially when your customer is viewing the demo on a small screen like a smart phone.”
    17. 17. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 1. Make the customer the HERO. Whirlpool Quote: “Feedback from our consumers is that the animations are great. In fact, they’re asking us to add interactive animations to our product Use and Care Guides.”
    18. 18. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 1. Make the customer the HERO. Whirlpool Quote: “Feedback from our consumers is that the animations are great. In fact, they’re asking us to add interactive animations to our product Use and Care Guides.”
    19. 19. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 1. Make the customer the HERO. Mentions of “Whirlpool” (customer) = 24 Mentions of “MediaLab” = 1 Check the ratio of Company to Customer mentions
    20. 20. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 2. Make the customer RELATABLE. VS. Who would you rather meet?
    21. 21. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 2. Make the customer RELATABLE. “The past solution was less than ideal.” “It just wasn’t the ‘wow’ we had hoped for. We felt stuck.”
    22. 22. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 2. Make the customer RELATABLE. “We found a program that satisfied the leadership team.” “We finally found a better way…and no more tug-of-war between departments.”
    23. 23. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 2. Make the customer RELATABLE. “We saw a 76% lift in sales within the first 26 days.” “Our team was floored. 75% lift in sales? We hadn’t seen that kind of spike in five years.”
    24. 24. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer 3. Make their story RELEVANT.
    25. 25. Twitter: @goldasich Positioning Your Customer Make Them: 1. Hero 1. Relatable 2. Relevant
    26. 26. Twitter: @goldasich Gathering the Story Think Like a Reporter. Not a Writer.
    27. 27. Twitter: @goldasich Research Ask your “front line”: – Sales people – Customer Service reps – Account Managers – Social Media managers “Who should we talk to on the customer side?”
    28. 28. Twitter: @goldasich Research: Who Should Conduct the Interview? – Sales people – Customer Service reps – Account Managers – Social Media managers You want the 30,000 foot view. Don’t send someone who’s on the front line.
    29. 29. Twitter: @goldasich Research: Who Should Conduct the Interview? – Content Producers – Content Managers – Facilitators – Storytellers – Outside Agencies
    30. 30. Twitter: @goldasich Prepare to Listen The Surprise StoryThe Assumed Story
    31. 31. Twitter: @goldasich Prepare to Listen Assumed Story: • Cost Savings • Simplified Process • Smooth Product Launch Surprise Story: • Haven-like environments impossible without 3D Set Shots • Not locked into one vision • Control over every detail • Using images everywhere — even as art at corporate and showrooms.
    32. 32. Twitter: @goldasich Prepare to Listen PREP with WIDE-OPEN "questions.” – B2B: • Tell me a little about your role at Acme. (B2B) • Describe the biggest challenge you face in your role. • Explain how your team is organized. (B2B) • Describe why you decided to start researching “X.” – B2C: • Tell me about your family/car/dog/skin • Explain your desire for a better “X.” (B2C) • Describe how/why you decided to start shopping for “X.”
    33. 33. Twitter: @goldasich Prepare to Listen PREP with FOCUSED questions. (then hope you won’t need them) • What made you decide to consider [company]? • What was your experience with [company]? Who did you work with? • You mentioned your prior search for “X” was “fruitless.” Can you tell me more about that? Relevant questions draw out relevant stories.
    34. 34. Twitter: @goldasich Get Comfy • Set the stage. – Introduce yourself – You’re here to hear their story. – Tangents are welcome. – Use questions as a reference… not a form. Facilitate. Don’t interrogate.
    35. 35. Twitter: @goldasich Interview • The Extremes: – Low Energy / Quiet • Bring your energy to the table • Linger on open-ended questions • Shy = Dry: Make it a brag- safe environment
    36. 36. Twitter: @goldasich Interview • The Extremes: – High Energy / Talkative • Meet their energy level. • Focused questions keep things on track (relevant) • Let them talk! Keep `em focused.
    37. 37. Twitter: @goldasich Record It! • Lets you be a reporter, not a secretary • Keeps it relaxed, conversational • Lets you bite off more than you can chew (you can chew it later!) Sound Note
    38. 38. Twitter: @goldasich Unfold the Master Story • Transcribe First! • Highlight: • Sound bites / Quotes • Background • Problem • Challenge • Resolution • Results • Tangents • Other relevant nuggets • Don’t fear emotional tidbits Now think like a writer!
    39. 39. Twitter: @goldasich You’re Not Done Yet…
    40. 40. Twitter: @goldasich Maximize Your ROI (Return on Interview)
    41. 41. Twitter: @goldasich Maximize Your ROI (Return on Interview) Contribute • Build a database of content – White paper snippets – Case studies – Stats – Blog ideas – Anecdotes – Quotes – Future content Distribute • Create a tagging strategy • Collaborate
    42. 42. Twitter: @goldasich Maximize Your ROI (Return on Interview) Taglaboration: n. 1. the act of tagging one’s content for easy reference, usage and love by others.
    43. 43. Twitter: @goldasich 7 Customer Interviews 2+ Infographics9 Case Studies 46 Blog Posts 20+ External Drip Emails 42 Testimonial Quotes 3 White Papers 3+ Internal Customer Emails
    44. 44. Twitter: @goldasich From This
    45. 45. Twitter: @goldasich To This!
    46. 46. Twitter: @goldasich Deana Goldasich deana@wellplannedweb.com 813-863-1486

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