Alright, folks, welcome to another episode of the State of Customer Storytelling podcast, brought to you by Testimonial Hero. This is the podcast that is all about helping you, as a B2B marketing leader, get the download on the most current practices related to all things customer storytelling.
Today, we have a shorter solo episode with myself, your host, Sam Shepler.
A quick background on me, I’ve been working in the customer advocacy field for about six years now, and I’m the founder of Testimonial Hero. Testimonial Hero is the sponsor of this podcast. Testimonial Hero is a service that is the easiest way for B2B marketing leaders to create highest quality customer testimonial videos, and other customer videos.
Content and micro content.
So, for this solo episode, I thought it would be fun to ask myself some of the common questions that I typically ask other guests on the show, and then answer them from my perspective. I’ll just ask the question as if I’m interviewing myself, and then I’ll give my answer.
To kick us off, the first question is, what’s the big deal with customer stories? Why do customer stories really matter in B2B?
First and foremost, customer stories build trust and credibility. Everything starts with trust and credibility. If you don’t have...
a certain threshold of trust, the lead is never going to convert in the first place, or it’s going to get stuck in the funnel. Credibility is the grease that keeps everything moving, and customer stories are one of the...
best ways, to make sure you have that trust and credibility. Even more than that, though, they are just often more interesting. They’re more engaging.
So, taking trust and credibility aside, there’s just something about hearing from a peer, versus hearing from a marketer or a sales rep, that we as listeners or as prospects get much more absorbed in a way that we wouldn’t necessarily with content marketing...
from marketers. So, first and foremost, they build trust and credibility.
Second, they cut through the noise, independent of that trust. It stands out because it’s different. People are very used to getting messages from our marketing team and our sales team, and have seen ads and articles, and everything.
At this point, in many respects, B2B buyers are bombarded with that stuff. When you can actually put customers at the center of your story, they touch people through the noise. The voice of the customer in that story cuts through the noise.
Even if it’s not, you know, and, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be. You know, a traditional endorsement, right. It’s just injecting the voice of the customer, in, all your marketing materials, you know, absolutely, you know, stands out. and that’s important because right now, you know, it’s noisier than ever right now, you know, in, in all marketplaces, but especially in B2B, and then a third for, you know, wider customer stories, man.
Customer stories, you know, matter because they can be a real competitive advantage. Think about it in this sense. So, you know, your competitors, can sort of copy your entire marketing site. They can really kinda S copy your value proposition and the language you’d use. They can copy your colors of, of your, of your brand.
And they can, you know, if you’re a software company, they can copy your features. They can, anything, you know, along that line can be replicated. But one thing that, you know, your competitors cannot copy is, you know, your customer stories. So, if you have a robust library, You know, really relevant, really accessible, you know, authentic and, you know, truly valuable customer stories and, you know, video and, and other formats, that is in many respects, a moat and a, you know, differentiation and that competitive advantage.
Because again, you know, a lot of things can be copied, but, customer stories and then they really can’t. So, so that all those things, that’s why customer stories. actually, that’s just three of the top reasons. There’s many, many more, but those are probably off the top of my head and my top three reasons why customer stories matter so much in B2B, you know, building trust and credibility.
There’s simply more interesting. They cut through the noise and then they are also a competitive event. Second question, is how have you seen customer storytelling, change over the course of your career and kind of what changes do you see? So, one thing that I have really noticed, particularly, particularly in the past two years or so, is, you know, for, for customer content, You know, we’re, we’re really moving from, you know, the, let’s say the olden days where, you know, it was way more about, you know, at a monolithic, content piece.
And we’re really moving to. a whole much more snackable, you know, atomized, idea of content and that, you know, that’s allowing prospects to really consume at their leisure throughout the entire buyer journey, and in smaller bites. so basically, you know, it used to be somewhat more than.
Like a customer video or a written case study was like a tactic that you used at a specific point in, you know, later in the funnel. and now it really like, it it’s much more broader than that. And it’s like customer content is just another content source. It’s another medium. And I think the best companies are really injecting.
Customer content and customer voice through, especially through videos, throughout, all stages of the buyer journey. Right? So, and, and everything is getting, you know, you know, more, more atomized, more snackable with, you know, more focused on micro content. Cause that’s just the way. you know, we, you know, generally like to consume media these days, that’s just kinda, kinda where, you know, most, they’re most things are trending.
So, so, so that’s the first thing I’ve seen change. It’s like, it’s, we’re moving away from this sort of like focused on like this big monolithic, like one and done situation to more of a, you know, full funnel approach. More of like thinking about at an, a very broad strategic high-level with customer content, and actually having like a customer content strategy.
And, and really that, that is like, if I was going to draw a distinction between like the, the old days and the current and the future, I would say old days, it was like, what video testimonials do we need or something now, current it’s, what is our customer video strategy? So it’s less about, you know, a specific tactical execution of.
Testimonial quota and more about, you know, the strategy and then, you know, how do we best align with the strategy with all of the micro content that we need to support it less about the specific tactics, you know, and the tactics are important, but like everything starts with the strategy.
And so people are thinking about. Much more strategically, at least the best, best marketing teams are. and we know with that, another thing is, you know, more, I mentioned the full funnel approach, right? That is another thing I think is changing. It used to be. Much more about checking the box at the later mid funnel around like, do we have our case studies to use and, you know, mid end of the funnel.
And now it’s more like, you know how again, how can we inject customer voice and customer content throughout the entire buyer journey or throughout the entire funnel. Right. So that I think is a big, Shifting and, and that’s good for buyers cause I mean that buyers, B2B buyers are driving that shift because their buying, habits are changing their, you know, I forget the stat or the study, but there were, it was a couple years ago.
And it was basically the point was something like 80% of the buying process is, has been completed now, and B2B before the B2B buyer talks to a sales rep. So essentially that the, this idea that. You know, people want to self-serve buyers, you know, want to, self-serve more, they, you know, they’re doing their own research.
They expect to be able to do their own research and consume content, at their own pace. And where in the old days it was like people were much more willing to just get on a call, kind of take listen to the sales rep. . It was, you know, the sales rep honestly just had the often the power to straight up, you know, persuade them easier.
And now people are, you know, buyers are way more educated about everything because all the information is out there. And, you know, so then as marketers, you know, how can, you know, and frankly, that’s how I like to buy. That’s how we all like to buy. Right. So like how can we, you know, give, give buyers the experience they want and let them, actually consume customer content.
And it’s, it’s the answer is really, again, going back to that full funnel approach is thinking at every stage in the buyer journey, what are the, the questions, fears, and doubts that. at that stage, you know, the buyer would want and how can we address them through the voice of the customer? Right.
Because that’s just so much more credible. so I think, yeah, that is, that is a super, super important approach. I’m next question that I like to ask guests, if I’m a marketing leader, how should I think about setting a customer story strategy?
What’s the process to think through or how do I actually go about that? So how do I set, you know, how should I set up our customer story strategy or customer content strategy? So this is a question I always, I often ask and have some awesome answers on this. I think, that, have really informed the way I think about it as well.
So I definitely encourage people to listen. To all past episodes. Cause I asked this question, I’m almost every single guest. and my answer here it is, you know, which I think is pretty similar to some other folks, is it all starts first with, aligning with, you know, your go to market strategy in your key strategic priorities.
So you have to start from. You know, knowing that the strategy first at a high level, in terms of like, you know, your marketing strategy or your, or your go to market strategy, and then only once, you know, that is really clear, then you think of all right. Well, where does, where do customers store. Customer content, you know, support this.
And you know, where are essentially are the gaps or, you know, where, you know, where are the gaps where like we’re actually straight up missing, you know, content and we really need, customer content, or S you know, pipeline that we’re just like, there’s a block in our pipeline and we’re just, you know, it’s really decreasing pipeline velocity.
Or, conversely, where can I actually use customer content to just be a S be an accelerant and, really speed up, the pipeline velocity, because actually, in many cases, companies, you know, don’t have a lead generation problem as much as they have a pipeline velocity problem.
If they actually, you know, could fix their pipeline velocity, they could, you know, you can, then you can, you know, stop worrying so much about, you know, kind of stuffing unqualified leads at the top of the funnel. And one of the best ways to improve your, your NAB pipeline velocity is to figure out where.
Things are getting stuck and then, you know, understand what the questions, fears and doubts from prospects are at that particular stuck stage. And then, you know, figure out like, okay, how can I address this? you know, through the voice of customers, right. because again, we, as we talked about earlier, you know, it’s more credible and it also really cuts through the noise and it’s just more engaging.
So, another thing that we, can’t not mention when we talk about strategy is, you know, building out a sort of, you know, a matrix of different, product use cases. as well as buyer personas, as well as, you know, industry verticals. So, you know, you can sort of think about this. do you have your different use cases for how people are actually taking advantage of, you know, your product, then you have your different personas and then you have like what industry they’re in.
Right. So like, ideally you want to, You know, understand, you know, and you can, you can also, you can prioritize, you can kind of rank those and you can prioritize, you know, what’s, what’s most important to you. so if, you know, like, you know, based again, based on figuring out, you know, your go to market and your strategic priorities, if you know that, you know, we, you particularly, your, you know, the priority is, X use case with Y persona and Z industry.
Then, that is incredibly valuable because then you can actually prioritize the customer content that is going to support that. but it really does help to map it all out. So, that I think is, is super helpful. And again, it doesn’t, it’s not, you know, incredibly complicated. It’s really. Asking yourself, do I have content for, you know, do I have customer content to support all the use cases?
You know, all the personas and all of my industries and you know, what are my priorities within that mix? And, understanding that can really go a long ways to. Realizing what customer content is actually going to move the needle for you. Right? Cause, you know, you, you know, time is limited.
Resources are limited. You want to, you know, create more customer videos, various types of customer content around, the highest leverage stories that your rest of your marketing team, your sales team can actually use. so that’s super important, to think about, all right, so question four.
This will be the last question for this, you know, mini episode. how does one identify, you know, which customers to actually, you know, feature, internally or like in the videos, right? How do you decide? So, you know, first obviously aligning on the strategy as we just talked about that, around, okay.
Like what is the, you know, what is the persona and industry. A use case demographic that I should prioritize based on my other stuff. However, in terms of actually, you know, figuring out who that is, you know, there’s a couple, a couple of tips, first, once you know who that is, you know, you can, you know, actually do some third-party review mining.
So you may want to mine. Third-party reviews, on sites like G2, jest radius, et cetera, you know, for customers with great stories, right? Because customers who are, leaving, you know, you know, good review and also, you know, even more importantly, have a really interesting story in their review as well.
Good use case that aligns, That is a really good way to figure out, you know, who you should future. of course there’s also, NPS score mining. So kind of similar idea, exact, you know, very similar, you can look at your MPS data, and for who would be great to feature from. if you have a system for, internal health score, if you track a customer health score in your customer success platform, that can be a good data point as well.
And then also, you know, just kind of hand to hand, you know, good old fashioned meetings with, you know, hand-to-hand combat, as they say, in terms of. Getting out there, you know, talking to people, doesn’t like, it doesn’t all have to be automated. Sometimes you just need a, you know, set a meeting with your customer success team and, you know, get the conversation going.
And you know, maybe in some cases, your sales team as well, and try to figure out, based on, you know, what your goals are, who they think would be, you know, great candidates to feature. and then, last and not least, Check and see if you already have some built in, agreements actually with customers.
So, it’s possible that you might have some customers who have already agreed to be featured, pending satisfaction, as part of their sales contract. That is something that happens quite a bit. If a prospect wants a discount, a sales rep will come back to them and say, “Okay, we can give you that discount....
Pending satisfaction, assuming everything goes great, would you do a case study? Would you be a reference?”
So, just getting clear on the people that have already agreed to do a video testimonial or a case study.
That is a key point. We often know who is available to do a reference, but we also have to make a reference call or whatnot. We also, as customer markers and advocate marketers, have to be careful about managing reference burnout.
So, one of the best ways in my experience to avoid reference burnout is, as soon as it makes sense, capture that reference story in a customer video or a series of customer videos. A whole snackable, micro content series. Then you’re actually able to deflect...
the majority of those reference call situations, because after your prospect watches the customer content that you only had to record once, there’s usually not a lot of need for the reference call because 90% of reference calls, 95% of them, they’re asking the same questions.
So, it’s pretty easy to create something that you can do once, and work for the majority of situations so you avoid referenced burnout.
Alright, that is a wrap on this solo episode. If you enjoyed it, let me know.
As always, this is the State of Customer Storytelling, and we’ll see you in the next episode.