In our previous post we outlined why customer-based content can be incredible. When we speak with our clients about this, they get it, but most have the same challenge: finding customers who want to be featured, have compelling stories to tell and reflect well on our clients’ brands.
Here’s the deal: it is not a lack of willingness on the part of the customers. Rather, it is the absence of processes in the brands’ organizations. The task of identifying and convincing customers to work with you to create powerful, customer-based content can seem overwhelming (especially when working on content is only part of the job). But in reality, it can be overcome fairly easily.
Here, we outline a process for finding the right customers for great customer-based content.
Step 1: Define the type(s) of content you are looking for. Let’s take a quick look at some examples:
- Case studies
- Customer profiles (content that features your customer but not necessarily about how they use your product
- Best practices (can be bylined by them or written up journalistic style)
- Compilations (typically of best practices or advice)
Step 2: For each type that you intend to produce, create a short brief that lays out details on the customer and situation you are looking to feature. For example, if you want to create content focused on an startup that is growing up, your brief might include something like:
We are looking for customers who have a growing, family business that purchased one or more of our solutions in the last 12 months. The customer business should have between 5 and 10 employees and can be located in any U.S. market. The ideal customer is innovative and can talk about how changing a process or thinking about their business differently this year made a measurable impact.
The brief should also include the amount of time and access you will expect from the featured customers. For example, you may want to do a one-hour interview, two-hour photo shoot and/or a 15-minute conversation.
Step 3: Leverage the right resources to identify customers who might match the brief. There are typically three ways to identify customers for customer-based content; however, your organization may have less than all three at your disposal:
- Salespeople, assuming your inside or outside salespeople collect enough knowledge to identify good customer candidates
- Customer service
- Calls for entry directed to customers through your customer communications (email, social, etc.)
It is important to strike a balance in making it easy for the referrer to make a suggestion with gathering enough information to evaluate the opportunity with the suggested customers. At minimum, you’ll need to ask referrers for:
- Name of the customer
- Contact information
- Best way to contact
- Why is the customer a good fit?
- Is the customer willing to put the time in to help produce a great story?
Step 4: Create a process to evaluate the referrals. Whether the referred customer comes from an internal source like sales or customer service or the customers suggest themselves, the first thing that you want to do is acknowledge that you received the referral and reach out to the customers that are the bets fit for this particular content program. During your regular scheduled time to review customer-based content opportunities, evaluate for:
- Is there a story that is very compelling and fits with your editorial strategy and existing initiatives?
- Does the customer have the willingness to put the time in to get the content produced well?
- If images are required, does the client have them at the appropriate resolution (or if you have the budget for new images, will they be open to a photoshoot)?
- While it isn’t a requirement, consider the client’s social media network.
After evaluating the customer candidates, you then can begin the content creation process. For tips on creating successful customer-based content, refer back to Anatomy of a Compelling Case Study.
Finally, as with any content initiative, it is critical that someone needs to own this processes in order to have the best chance for success.
We have helped many companies with their customer-based content, and we would be happy to take a look at yours.