When a third party touts your brand message, it’ll hit home with your key targets a lot sooner than anything you say. Sorry, but that’s the cold, hard truth. Most audiences are inured to the slick promotional brand avowals they’ve heard in company-sponsored ads and other promotions most of their lives.
So, use customer testimonials when you invoke your brand story as part of your core marketing strategy. First of all, storytelling is a powerful technique for building relationships; it has sufficed throughout history to bind people together through shared experiences.
Second, thanks to the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, marketers can quickly distribute their brands’ stories far and wide—potentially driving revenue to new heights and increasing customer retention by a corresponding magnitude.
On its own as a promotional tool, social media is a significant outlet for brand messaging. In fact, a Crowdtap survey of 3,000 consumers found that 64 percent of shoppers use social media to find inspiration for purchases. Combine this business aspect of social platforms with their exponential “word of mouth” functionality and you’re in business.
As a matter of fact, a recent survey by eMarketer found that word of mouth ranked No. 2 for how consumers discover new products, with 57 percent of respondents identifying their friends, family and colleagues as their primary source. Only “in-store browsing” rated higher (59 percent). Yet the study also found that marketers are missing the mark when it comes to using word of mouth (WOM) to help customers learn about products—ranking it fifth as a popular tactic (chosen by 45 percent of marketers).
Marketers would be wise then to narrow the gap between their perceptions and actual customer preferences by leveraging brand storytelling today in tandem with social media and its accompanying WOM messaging to draw in consumers.
Try the following steps for crafting testimonials that drive personal connections between consumers and your brand:
Formulate a compelling story: What was the identified consumer need that inspired your client to reach out to your business? How were your products and services used to address the problem? Be sure the story is rooted in reality (and honesty) and that the message is consistent with all your other brand marketing messages across content and channels.
Choose characters: The client whose testimonial you are promoting is the main character, with your company serving in a supporting role. Let the main character and his or her colleagues expound upon your brand’s wonderful products and services and how they benefitted from their procurement. Choose “characters” that your audience will like and relate to, so they want to follow in their footsteps.
Establish a beginning, middle and end: A captivating brand story will set up the situation, chronicle the conflict and offer a resolution. Your customers have real stories with all the components to engage your audience: how they went about choosing your brand based on its value proposition, and how your solutions helped them fulfill customer needs and respond to new challenges.
Share the experience: Let your customers’ testimonials add the color and flare to your marketing message, which should stick to the facts. Let your clients tell readers how amazing your products and services are.
As with her writing and editing, Peg brings her finely honed attention to detail and her adherence to high-quality standards to bear in her role as managing editor of Content Boost. As team leader, she encourages her staff to strive for excellence in the copy they craft and in the relationships they forge with clients, striving for an optimal customer experience. She caught the marketing bug after seven years as an editor and supervisor at Gartner Inc., the world’s leading IT research and advisory company, and was drawn to the spirit and talent exhibited at Content Boost. Tracing back to her early days working local beats as a journalist, Peg consistently digs deep for insights that bring value to her writing. Outside the office, Peg loves to read when she’s not trying to keep up with her cycling buddies or the weeds in her garden. She can be found enjoying the local scene in her hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut.