Why do Salesforce talk about customer success so much?
Anyone that’s been to one of the brand’s events, or seen any of their marketing in the last 10 years, will be aware of the presence customer stories play in their marketing materials. The Salesforce YouTube channel has a playlist of over 50 videos dedicated solely to customer success stories. That might seem like overkill, but they’re not the only ones who are regularly pushing customer-focused content out the door.
Other companies with customer success playlists include SAP (150 videos), Adobe (176 Videos) and Amazon Web Services, who have an astonishing 770+ videos in their playlist. They cover everything from delivering billions of Netflix hours to power plant development to finding missing children. Assuming an average runtime of 2.5 minutes, the playlist totals over 31 hours of content dedicated to how AWS customers are better off for using their products.
It’s clear that customer success stories are an effective marketing tool. And thankfully, you don’t have to aim for 770 videos in your playlist to position your company as a problem-solver and thought leader. With several testimonials and lengthier case studies, you can effectively tell your brand story through the eyes of your happy customers.
Placing another company front and center in your marketing may seem like a counterintuitive idea, but how often are you in competition with your own customers? The answer is likely “not often.” Putting the customer you’ve helped front and center subtly demonstrates that you don’t need to talk about how successful your products are. Your products are so effective that they create brand ambassadors who are happy to speak for you.
Customers of all kinds are increasingly distrustful of brands and their messaging, preferring instead to rely on recommendations from people with experience of the brand. This is true in our everyday lives, and it’s true for businesses too.
A customer success story combines the use of brand ambassadors with this preference and instead of focusing in on glamour shots of products on Lazy Susans, it puts a recommendation front and center.
As noted above, whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, your customers are aware of marketing practices. They know you have a team of highly skilled and dedicated marketers who work hard to put your products, services and initiatives forward through traditional marketing collateral.
Customer success stories are a different way of contextualizing what you offer.
With a customer success story, your target audience sees an entire story unfold. A story that isn’t about your company. Instead, the protagonist is a company like their own, it’s populated by people like them, who are facing the challenges they face and who are overcoming those challenges with the help of the hero of the story, your product.
The story may not be about your company, and your product may get a smaller amount of screen time, but if Jaws and Alien* taught us nothing else it’s that the quality of your screen time is more important than quantity.
To create the most effective customer success stories, focus on the main challenge, the solution and the results. Above all, the story needs to showcase that a certain product or service your organization offers has provided lasting benefits to an organization.
You can do create case studies in multiple formats. For example, a one-page write up that features compelling imagery can be posted to your blog or even a dedicated case study page on your website. If your customers are comfortable on camera, you can develop a video that further brings the story to life. Whichever option you choose, promote the story through numerous channels, such as social media, your website and your e-newsletter. You can even feature success stories in brochures and pull quotes from case studies to include in customer presentations.
Of course, customer recommendations have been a part of marketing since the days of Claude Hopkins and we all recognize the tacit recommendations in 9 out of 10 alchemists prefer style marketing patter.
Customer success stories go further. They use explicit stories instead of implicit expressions, they present specifics instead of generalizations. They factor in the behavior of your customers and they give your product the hero status it deserves. But they can be a hard sell sometimes.
The value of a customer success story is that it presents a genuine recommendation of your product by someone your target audience will be empathetic towards and trusting of.
There are few marketing tools that are more powerful than that.
*The antagonists in these films have only 4 minutes of screen time each. Also, at the risk of being misunderstood, I’m not saying your products are monsters!
Looking to develop written or video case studies that highlight how your product or service helped a customer? Contact us to learn how we can bring your success stories to life.
Mike McConnell is a Copy and Content Writer at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London, and Australia. He has years of experience creating and editing written work for a diverse range of clients across multiple formats.