Stories from your existing customers can help you get new ones.
In a previous post, we explained why customer-based, peer-to-peer content is exceptionally engaging for owners of small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Many SMBs learn that the best way to discover new approaches and find inspiration is through the experiences of other business owners. Most of our clients get this concept, but some cite a common challenge when trying to create this type of content. It can be hard to identify customers who want to be featured, who have compelling stories to tell, and whose stories reflect well on our clients’ brands.
Here’s the deal: Usually, it is not a lack of willingness on the part of the customers to be involved. Rather, it is the absence of processes in the brands’ organizations for reaching out to the right customers, capturing their stories, and converting them into compelling content. It’s not as hard as you may think.
4 Steps to Super-Engaging Content for SMBs
Here’s a 4-step approach for sourcing and producing great customer-based content.
Define the type(s) of content you are looking for. Reprising the list from our earlier post, let’s take a quick look at some examples:
- Case studies—short stories relating the experiences of real customers using your product or service
- Customer profiles—content that features your customers but is not focused on how they use your product or service
- Best practices—content about business strategies or ideas that can be bylined by the customer, which are written in a journalistic style or presented as an interview
- Compilations, also called roundups—best practices or advice collected from a variety of other SMBs
2. Create a brief
For each story you intend to produce, create a short brief that describes the customer and situation you’d like to feature. For example, if you want to create content about a growing startup, your brief might look something like this:
Seeking customers who have growing, family businesses that have purchased one or more of our solutions in the last 12 months. The target business should have between 5 and 10 employees, and can be located in any U.S. market. The ideal customer is an innovator, and can talk about how changing a process or thinking about their business differently made a measurable impact this year.
The brief should also include the amount of time and access you will need—a one-hour interview, a two-hour photo shoot, or a 15-minute conversation.
Leverage the right resources to identify customers who might match the brief. There are typically three ways to identify customers who can provide material for your content:
- Salespeople: Your best salespeople will usually know which customers are having the most success with your product(s) or service(s), and who might be willing to tell their stories.
- Customer service: Experienced inside reps will also have success stories they can tell, which may also reflect positively on your service and support operations.
- Volunteers: Customers who reply to requests for submission sent through your various customer communications—email, social media, and so on.
Create a process to evaluate the candidates. Plan to review customer-based content opportunities on a regular basis, and consider the following:
- Is the story compelling to other SMBs?
- Does it fit with your editorial strategy and overarching brand story?
- Is the customer willing to dedicate enough time for you to be able to produce quality content?
- Are appropriate images available, or will they be open to a photo shoot?
- Can you leverage the client’s social media network (not essential, but always nice)?
Once you’ve selected your candidates, you then can begin developing your customer-based content. Finally, as with any content initiative, it is critical that someone owns this process to have the best chance for success. RSL Media has helped many companies with their customer-based content. We would be happy to show you the ropes.
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