May 24, 2016

Use Customer Testimonials to Enhance Your Brand Story

Invoking brand stories for your readership is likely one of your core marketing strategies. After all, storytelling is a powerful technique for building relationships. It has sufficed throughout history to bind people together through shared experiences. Now, thanks to the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, marketers can quickly distribute their brand stories far and wide—potentially driving revenue and increasing customer retention.

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, up from 51 percent a year earlier. Combine this business aspect of social platforms with their exponential “word of mouth” functionality and you’re in a whole other ballpark.

As a matter of fact, a recent survey by eMarketer found that 57 percent of consumers discover new products through their friends, family and colleagues. Only “in-store browsing” rated higher (59 percent) than this word of mouth (WOM) method. Yet the study also found that marketers are missing the mark when it comes to using WOM to help customers learn about products—ranking it fifth as a popular tactic (chosen by 45 percent of marketers).

Leading marketers are striving to narrow the gap between their perceptions and actual customer preferences by using the one-two punch of WOM and social media to drive their brand stories into the hearts and minds of consumers. To optimize these channels yourself, consider packaging your brand story in the form of a customer testimonial (a positive customer review of the qualities of your products or services).

Customer testimonials highlight the customer experience with your brand without the slick promotional gimmickry consumers are so inured to from print, TV and radio ads. In their less flashy and less salesy way, they build trust by veering from your brand “voice,” standing out as candid and unbiased accounts of your company’s value proposition.

Here are tips for crafting testimonials that will help consumers form personal connections with your brand:

  • Select a compelling story: Pick user stories that are a testament to the struggles we all face and that your products and services help resolve. Let your customers’ testimonials add the color and flare to your marketing message, which should stick to the facts. These third-party stories are simply more believable to readers than even the most straightforward truths delivered by a company spokesperson. So, let your clients tell readers how amazing your products and services are.
  • Outline product benefits: The testimonial should validate your brand’s personal truth—what your products promise to do for the buyer. Focus on the identified consumer need that inspired your business. What audience needs do your products and services address? The user’s story should be replete with facts and figures that substantiate your claims. Keep uppermost in your thoughts that honesty and transparency are the tools to impactful storytelling. So, root your story in reality and be sure your message remains consistent across all content deliverables and channels.
  • Choose characters: The client whose testimonial you are promoting is the main character, with your company serving in a supporting role. Choose “characters” that your audience will like and relate to, so they want to follow in their footsteps. Do you sell primarily to seniors or to moms with young children? Aim to have characters of a similar age, or with similar interests.
  • Establish a beginning, middle and end: A captivating brand story will set up the situation, chronicle the conflict and offer a resolution. You’re not inventing a story; you already have everything you need to engage your audience: how your brand offers value, fulfills customer needs, and responds to new challenges. If you don’t have the in-house talent to create a great story, consider outsourcing the task to a content strategy vendor.

As with all good content marketing strategies, make sure your customer testimonials give consumers brand experiences that engage them emotionally and draw them to your business.

Once your testimonials are committed to print (or video), be sure to highlight them on your website. Actually, speckle your website with testimonials! Every click should afford visitors an opportunity to review a positive customer endorsement of your products and services.

Storytelling is about emotion, authenticity, personal connections and a call to action, which hasn’t changed since the dawn of communication. Customer testimonials tap into this powerful messaging tool. Fueled by WOM, let your brand stories travel the globe on social media platforms.

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