August 15, 2018

How to tell better customer stories

**N.B. You might want to print the five questions below and pin them near your desk**

We were talking yesterday about the four types of story you can tell (product, customer, personal, other), and which type to lead with.

The most common stories told in the marketing world are product and customer stories. These are the ‘safest’ stories to tell, because they are the most expected and closely link to your offer.

Product stories and customer stories essentially showcase your offer from different perspectives. Product stories tell how your product came to exist, and the work that went into it. A customer story shares the experience of a product from a customer’s perspective.

Which normally is where the wheels fall off…

Most customer stories are horrible, sickly sweet, ‘aren’t we wonderful’ nonsense; often written by the company’s marketing department and ‘signed off’ by the customer.

Which is a complete waste of time. Besides stroking the ego of the business owner, they serve no selling purpose whatsoever. Except perhaps to help people fall asleep.

They look fake. They sound fake. And nobody reads them.

A GOOD customer story follows a before and after format, where the purpose of the story is to bring the customer’s initial objections out into the open. This is then useful because the objections usually mirror the objections a new customer will have.

When you’re gathering customer stories – which I suggest you do as soon as possible after delivery or consumption of your product – I suggest the following as an interview format:

  1. Can you describe the circumstances that led you to contact us? Was there a specific situation that led you to get help, or do a Google search?
  2. Was there anything you were worried about when placing the order? If one thing might have stopped you, what would that have been?
  3. How would you describe the experience?
  4. What outcome have you been left with?
  5. What would you say to someone who was in your situation and ‘sitting on the fence’?

You might need to customise those questions slightly to your specific product or offer, but the format means the customer story follows a regular beginning, middle and end structure. You end up with authentic, meaty testimonials that actually help in the sales process.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.