content marketing

Your Guide to Writing Killer Success Stories

Your Guide to Writing Killer Success Stories
By Laura Lentchitsky | December 13, 2017
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Success stories are an important piece of any great content marketing strategy. They can breathe life into a brand with credible and true tales from actual customers sharing their experiences and real-world examples.

Prospects look to success stories because they show solutions to relatable struggles and how their business can improve by overcoming them. Success stories can also serve as proof points of your company’s capabilities. If a prospect reads a specific example of how your team solved a tricky issue with a creative solution, it can help build trust in your organization.

There’s a lot of opportunity behind producing this type of content. Here are some tips to really make your next success story a slam dunk.

 

1Perform internal research and then interview the customer.

A critical part of writing a success story is interviewing the customer. However, as a marketer, it’s likely that you were not a part of the initial sales process or solution implementation. But rather than relying on the customer to bring you up to speed, it’s more professional to come in with a good understanding of their business and how the solution helped them.

Before you interview the customer or customers, first leverage your internal resources. Find out from your sales reps or other applicable colleagues more about the customer’s background, the problem they were looking to solve and the end results.

Having a basic understanding of what happened can give you a sense of what the story is, which can help you guide the conversation with the customer during your interview. That being said, you should still ask the customer some basic questions to hear it in his or her own words and confirm what you learned internally.

 

2Think like a journalist.

After you do your research and perform your interviews, next comes actually writing out the success story. In order to tell the most compelling and cohesive story, think of the W’s that any trained journalist would consider:

  • Who is the customer? What are their products or services? Their industry? Their unique competitive strengths? Include any relevant introductory background information.
  • What was the challenge (or challenges) the customer was facing? What was the chosen solution and how was it implemented? 
  • What were the out-of-the-ordinary details about this problem or solution (if any)? 
  • Why take action? If relevant, include the customer’s motivation behind solving the problem and how the challenge impacted their business.
  • When should this problem be solved? What caused the customer to act on the problem when they did? What were the possible consequences to the customer if they ignored the challenge?
  • Where did the customer find their initial information about your product and/or organization? Was the connection made through a partner or supplier, through internet research, etc.? Why did the customer choose your organization to fix this problem for them?
  • How did the customer’s business change because of the solution? What were the results achieved by the customer? Were there any unexpected positive changes after solving this problem? 

 

Answering these questions in the copy of your success story can help provide all of the necessary information while still telling an interesting and relatable story. Ultimately you want to structure your success story by introducing the problem, describing the solution and – most importantly – the positive impact to the client.

 

3Remember that you’re telling the customer’s story, not your company’s.

In a success story (like with most inbound marketing content), remember that the customer is the “main character,” not your company. That’s what is going to be more relatable to your readers. That’s what’s going to build trust.

Think about how you will be using these success stories. Who is your target audience? What do you want them to do after they read them? If you want leads or prospects to see themselves in the same shoes as the featured customer, why would you spend the entire document talking about your company?

Building trust and credibility isn’t normally accomplished by bragging about your own achievements, it’s about showing the proof of your capabilities and your products with a true story of a real problem that was solved.

 

4Focus on measurable and specific information.

It’s not always enough to write a general story about a company in need whose life was made better by your product or service. Writers are constantly taught to “show, not tell” in their writing. Instead of telling your readers “their business grew,” show them with real data, such as, “the company was able to increase sales within the first quarter by 425%.”

Remember that many people often skim content. By using numbers and other visual representations of success, you can be sure that skimmers still walk away retaining the most critical detail: That they too can achieve better business outcomes if they hire your company to solve this issue for them.

Providing specific results can help give the story more credibility and also make it more tangible. Seeing how much success the reader could have with the same product or service is what will ultimately cause them to act.

 

5Repurpose your success story for even more content.

When you commit to writing a success story, it entails researching the customer, the pain points, the solution, the implementation, the results, and more… That’s a lot of work, so why not use all of that golden information to create additional content to support your message in the success story?

Here are some ideas:

  • Use quotes or endorsements from the customer as a testimonial on your website.
  • Pull figures from the results to use as proof points in sell sheets or web content.
  • Record a video of your customer interview and publish that on social media.
  • Create tweet after tweet and post after post from highlights throughout the finished document.

Take the knowledge that’s fresh in your mind and tell or continue the story across different platforms and, ultimately, to new readers.

Now you have what you need to write an incredible success story (and then some). If you’re still not comfortable telling the story, or you just don’t have the bandwidth to handle the research, writing and approvals, contact your marketing agency to inquire about outsourcing your copywriting or content marketing needs.

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