Nothing says “credibility” like a satisfied customer. Whenever you use a customer story or quote in your marketing, those efforts carry more weight than almost anything else you can do. And it’s not just new prospects who pay attention. Hard-to-impress editors, analysts, bloggers and other influencers put far more stock into what your customers say about you than what you claim.
Interview Smartly for Mega-Content
If you plan it right and ask good questions, you can capture enough content for a variety of uses from just one good interview and without imposing on the customer’s time and good will. There are many ways to work these customer experiences, perspectives and opinions into high-value marketing content. Here’s a start:
- Case studies – Traditional tools but still marketing “gold.” Open with a story that sets the stage. Use lots of customer quotes to describe the problem and how you solved it. Quote more than one person in the company if you can.
- Customer councils, user conferences and groups – A large-scale team effort, but great for networking and word-of-mouth marketing. Starting small is a good plan if it’s your first one. You can use these opportunities for press releases, photos, quote gathering, schmoozing and more.
- Quotes – Constantly replenish a stockpile of great, approved quotes along with the customer’s name and title. If you can’t reveal the name, at least use the title and industry that’s represented. You can collect quotes from case studies, user meetings, trade shows and other opportunities and add them to the quote library. Organize quotes by vertical market, types of problems solved, benefits, and your own product lines. You’ll have them on hand for press releases, blogs, articles, editor requests, tweets and more.
- Guest blogs – Invite customers to write a blog for you, or to put their name on a ghostwritten post. You’ll have to come up with a “what’s in it for them” reason. One might be that a blog gives them greater visibility as a leader with editors and analysts who follow your corporate blog. On the flip side, see if blogging customers will let you do a guest post for them. The angle could be a new approach to a problem, and how this customer has taken the industry lead in that direction.
- Tweets – Tweet about customers who are successful with your products and share links to their case studies. Focus on the problem, not on your company. For example: “Find out why Company X no longer has to wait days to get new acct approvals. [Link to case study.]” If you can get customers to tweet about you (i.e. the problem that got solved), even better. Set up a #hashtag with a term relevant to the problem that is being solved, such as #digitaldocuments.
- White paper examples – White papers, executive reports, guides and eBooks are more interesting and credible when they include real examples. Draw on your case studies for suitable references for your white paper. As a courtesy, let your customers know they are being featured, even if they previously approved the case study. And if they shy from going public, reference them as a generic title from the “whatever” industry.
- Trade shows and conferences speakers – Conferences love to have real customers speak, instead of vendors. Get these efforts going far in advance of the show. It’s a diplomatic coup to get a customer company to agree to send someone to speak on your company’s behalf. Be prepared to pay their travel expenses. Offer to help develop their presentation. Do whatever it takes to make the assignment easy on them.
- Special booth guests – On rare occasions, you can get customers to appear in your trade show booth. You won’t position it as “come work a shift,” but more like having a book signing. Market it as “come spend time with representative of company X and find out how they cut their processing workflow by half,” or something like that. Play it up with signage on site, pre-show promotions, tweets, blogs and more. Schedule editors to come during the show for interviews.
- Ads – Customers make great ads, and they like seeing themselves in print. Be sure to have some reprints framed to give to the customer as gifts. Think of it as the billboard or twitter version of their case study.
In the next WordScience blog, I’ll share more ways to get customers on your marketing team. What ideas work best for you?