State of Customer Storytelling - 003
[00:00:00] Harsha: One of the things we miss is telling the human story. We talk about the brand. We talk about the company, did this companies don't do things. People do things. I think it's important to put the people in the focus and put the company in the background. So it's not like it's not there, but I want to tell a story of Sam, Sam doing this, make Sam the hero and people connect with people.
[00:00:20] They don't connect with company.
[00:00:28] Sam: Hey folks. And welcome to another great episode we have today of the state of customer storytelling, the podcast where we examine how B2B marketing leaders can actually. Customer stories, your competitive advantage in your go to market. Our guest today is the fantastic Harsha Kala, Paula.
[00:00:50] He is the senior director of product marketing brand. Trust radius in Austin, Texas. He has a very wide breadth of experience having worked in [00:01:00] B2B SAS enterprise and w with senior and executive leadership at really everything from the seed to growth stage, as well as established large companies and corporations.
[00:01:11] And e-com it, FinTech and also construction tech, harsher welcome to the.
[00:01:17] Harsha: Sam. It's my pleasure to be here. I appreciate the very kind and generous.
[00:01:22] Sam: Absolutely. And let's just dive right into it to kick us off. You know, what's the big deal with, with customer storytelling in B2B, why do customer stories, matter.
[00:01:31] Harsha: It's a great question to ask Sam. And it's a great question for every marketer asked today, the fundamental premise of this conversation, I think is that. Buyers are changing, not just their mindset, but who they are, is changing and it's changing rapidly. I'm talking about research, not just my opinion.
[00:01:51] There are recent studies that show the Majority of the buyers are now millennials over 60% of them are millennials. as a [00:02:00] result of that, the way they behave, the way you can expect the buyer to behave is going to be different. the characteristics of millennials, as you can guess, is going to be different than the previous generation from gen Xers and baby boomers.
[00:02:13] The fact that. They want to do their own research. They want to come to their own conclusion changes the way they behave and it changes, the way marketers influence that behavior. So most, most millennials want to self-serve they, they trust their peers and their, their networks point of view, more than any other source out there.
[00:02:36] that's the big difference, you know, from the previous generations is millennials don't really look at. Traditional analyst reports as much. And when they do, they give it less weight compared to their peers feedback their inner circle and, and the next circle. But they, but they really rely on people like them to make decisions about.
[00:02:59] What they're going to [00:03:00] purchase in general in life. But it becomes even more focused when it comes to B2B software. So that's, that's an important underlying trend and, and a lot of these people are. self-educating before they even come talk to you, research shows, and this is a study from Bain that was recently published, that shows 94% of buyers.
[00:03:21] Self-educate before they ever talk to you. So I'm, I'm giving you all these stats, but like the, the, the premise of this, the underlying factor is that buyers. Want to self-serve. They don't want to talk to you more than half of them typically make their make up their mind before they come talk to you.
[00:03:41] if they ever talk to you right about half of them, don't ever talk half of the buying group don't ever talk to vendors, whether it's salespeople or marketers. A lot of that activity is happening in the dark, so to speak, And it's, it's really important for marketers to go beyond your traditional methods of [00:04:00] reaching out to these folks and really figure out some creative ways, some new age methodologies to reach these people who are not explicitly using the they're not using channels that are traditionally relied on by marketers.
[00:04:14] they're not explicitly giving you their hand-raised intent that. Hey I want to buy this stuff. So how do you, how do you even get on their radar? And when you do, how do you convince them that you are the, the right choice to be made? So the challenge is it's tough, but it's also different for the marketers today.
[00:04:35] Sam: I think, you know, some markers would say, yeah, no, totally agree. But like, I can do that, you know, with my own content or, you know, with our internal content, I guess, where do you see like the real. No customer contact continent in contrast with like, you know, your traditional marketing content.
[00:04:53] Harsha: Yeah. So definitely you, you want to start with your own content. There is a lot that [00:05:00] that is core to the story that you're trying to tell, but the challenge with that, Sam is that. Yeah, it's hard to keep up with with the content. It's hard to keep it current and other aspect of of millennials trusting their, their peers is also, they look for the more current information.
[00:05:17] So whatever stories you create, whatever testimonials or whatever you capture has to be kept fresh has to be kept current. And it's not just about the, the timestamp. It's the fact that your business model is constantly changing, right? It's constantly evolving to the customer needs. And most companies, most tech companies for sure will agree with that fact because they're constantly trying to keep up with the shifting trends in, in the, in the market and as a result, how their company.
[00:05:47] Product portfolio evolves, how the use cases that they address evolve. So when so much evolution's happening, you have to make sure that the story you're telling through the customer's voice is [00:06:00] directly covering those use cases. And it's directly addressing what your buyers want to and need to hear.
[00:06:08] Sam: So true. So true. And, I wanna drill down into the self-serve aspect, which I think. Really interesting in, in true. Do you think like, traditionally in B2B, we for, especially for large purchases, like, right, like reference calls have been a staple, but I mean, let's be honest, like they're sort of bad for every, for everyone and you can burn out your references.
[00:06:31] You can, I mean, I'm curious, like, do you think. Like if the future is like more evidence and like less reliance on references or we'll reference calls, like, you know, always be as big of a thing. And actually, I don't know. I'm curious if there's any data on that. Like maybe the rise of evidence and the decline of, of reference, but yeah, I'd love to know if you have any thoughts or insight on that sort of dynamic.
[00:06:56] Harsha: Yeah, that's a great question about reference calls. I didn't see any particular [00:07:00] research on that exact metric, but what I, what I will say is that. There is a, there is a place for reference calls, right? Like same, same as there is a place for analyst reports. It's just that the way it's been used, the frequency of its use is going down.
[00:07:16] So it's really important to think about it's. Yes. And we have that. Okay. Some, especially when you go more enterprise, when you go more considered purchases, reference calls do become important to have in your back pocket. If, if your prospect really needs it, Also, you know, you only have so many favors to ask of customers, especially if you are a high ACV, high, average contract value business, you don't have that many customers, every customer touch points important.
[00:07:44] So you don't, you wouldn't want to waste those, those touch points. With shallow requests and multiple requests. So it's really important to save those for your best business drivers. So having that reference, list is important. So I [00:08:00] work for TrustRadius, right? And one of the features that we offered through our reviews is, or users to.
[00:08:07] To also, they kind of check their check a box and the process to be hand-raisers they want to be a reference. So it's an advantage bogging review. You wouldn't get people automatically a list of people to pull from. And we do that because there is a need for it. And we want to serve that need and people are getting a lot of benefit from it because it takes a lot of energy, a lot of permissions and back and forth.
[00:08:27] You know, you in your business, I'm sure you've experienced that as well to get the right people to say, okay, I'll be a reference, but if. If you get those early on and have them as a, again, a thing in your back pocket that's that would be great. But what you want today, Sam is reference at scale references that don't necessarily have to be a one-on-one conversation, but they can be detailed enough that you could scale their use for multiple people, because it really answers all their questions that we've asked in a reference call anyway, and that comes from.[00:09:00]
[00:09:00] You know, maybe a little bias talking about this, but that comes from deep reviews. And that's what we focus on frustrated is, and I love working this kind of a product because it solves a real existing and pertinent problem that it kind of goes back to that point that you don't want to waste your valuable touch points, especially when each, each customer's favors are limited.
[00:09:22] So when you ask somebody for a review, for example, Make sure that ask is going to give you the best outcome, right? And in a written review format, you make sure that it's deep enough the case of a testimony, your hero, your company, getting that in-depth story in that one, single touch is going to pay dividends over time.
[00:09:41] It's going to be, it's going to be that depth that that really helps you out.
[00:09:45] Sam: That's such a good point. It's like, in terms of it's like that almost like political capital that you have like a finite amount to spend. Right. And whether it's, you know, review it's like, don't just ask for. Yeah, you have, you have one [00:10:00] ask, so it's like, don't just ask for like a quote, an email, like get them to fill out an in-depth trust radius review.
[00:10:05] Like, cause you don't get to kind of go, you don't often get to like go back to them. It's like might as well do it. Right. And yeah. Totally, totally agree. And, so let's soon back out and in terms of you know, just like setting the strategy, right? Cause I think a lot of you know, in, in until maybe a couple of years ago, It there wasn't a, you know, as you mentioned, we're seeing this shift where the best marketers out there and the best B2B brands out there are really amping up the customer stories.
[00:10:34] It's becoming a true competitive advantage, using obviously, you know, platforms like TrustRadius and, and, and frankly, us as well, You know, how do you think about setting a strategy? I know like a really popular way out there is to do a gap analysis.
[00:10:50] where are we going? what are our priorities? Do we have, then where are the gaps in customer stories? but yeah, I'd love to hear from like, how do you think about, what would you tell, a [00:11:00] marketer who's listening to this and is like, okay, I'm sold. we can't afford to sit on the sidelines and let customer stories happen as a total ad-hoc process, which was good enough, a couple of years ago, that was good enough, but like, not, not really anymore.
[00:11:17] what would you tell a marketer, a B2B software marketer. Who's trying to figure out how to set a strategy.
[00:11:23] Harsha: Yeah, a great question. And, you know, Even even myself in my past, I've done this before, so I totally understand why it happens, but marketers, bigger challenge is that we treat these as a I'll cross that bridge when I get to it thing. And we create some, you know, we work hard. To create some testimonials.
[00:11:45] we go on a run to, to really reach out to our customer base, cover, cover our bases on how we tell the story. And they're like, okay, we got it. We're good to go for another year or two. That is a strategy that doesn't work anymore. Again, kind of expect to the [00:12:00] fact that we have more of those buyers becoming are, are millennials.
[00:12:04] So they are expecting. more Relevance and, and social proof and recency. you want to make sure that, that combined with your shifting story, as we talked about before, it's important to cover those use cases. It's important to make sure that you have a Testimonial review strategy as an ongoing thing, you can't have that be a Tylenol thing.
[00:12:28] You want to make that a vitamin for your business, You want to keep having that, repository of, of customer proof, and customer validation and you, you really, the best strategy for marketers today is not to just write great copy, but cheat use the. copy and the words of your customers, that's the kind of language they talk anyway.
[00:12:52] That's, that's the language your buyers trust and hear. And that's the one big fundamental difference that smart marketers are shifting [00:13:00] to today is becoming a good copywriter is about listening to what your customers are saying and repackaging that in the same language, but with probably a little bit more clarity and with a little bit more focus for the rest of your audience.
[00:13:12] So they can really See what they're about to sign up for. And it's just the cheat here is to make it true. to make it believable because it is the truth and it is coming from people like them.
[00:13:25] Sam: I love that. And I love the vitamin versus, you know, Tylenol analogy to me. It's like, it's like that, that Maxim what is it like an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, you know? You know, an ounce of just having a actual process and thought out is worth, you know is way better than all of a sudden looking at your competitor's website.
[00:13:49] And when they do a redesign and realizing that you're way behind on customer stories, and like now you've got to scramble, right? So like it's, it's such a good, such a great analogy and such a good point.
[00:13:59] Harsha: we really [00:14:00] have to rethink our, our approach. You know, the, the traditional approach is the old way is basically coming up with a narrative that you want to tell your prospect base and then finding the customer testimonials and finding the, the social proof to support that.
[00:14:17] Instead the, the tools that you have at your disposal as a marketer, the much better strategy is to start with what customers are saying. Really have that, that ongoing supply of customer. Is what's going to help you to give you. Material to pull from, right. use that to help define your, your story and your narrative.
[00:14:39] And then you don't have to really go fish for something that, to make a square peg fit in a round hole. So it's all in the same vein. It's all in the same. Storyline. So starting with the customer input, starting with a repository of their feedback and building your brand narrative based on that is just [00:15:00] going to make everything fit like a glove.
[00:15:01] And it's going to make, again, it goes back to telling the, telling a true story, telling it like it is just with a little bit more clarity.
[00:15:09] Sam: That is such a good point and very actually counter intuitive. Right too. And honestly like a contrarian. And as you know, in, in a really good way, it's like, you know, it's almost an inversion Write of, you know, the old way. It's like, let's, let's lock her up. Let's, let's go on. Let's go on offsite and spend two days figuring out like, you know what we think, you know, our story should be.
[00:15:31] Or, you know, in let's obviously there, there is, that's valuable in some respects, but like, it sounds like what you're advocating, which makes a ton of sense is like, you know, let's also involve the customer in that take like a bottom up approach and, shortcut all the time that we would be spending and frankly get something that is way more real and powerful.
[00:15:55] Harsha: Yeah, absolutely. And in my experience I've when I created copy, without that [00:16:00] perspective, when I created the messaging, it turns out to be just missing the mark because I'm too close to the business. You know, myself, the executive team, the product team are all too close to the business and we'll end up creating a story that.
[00:16:13] Just hard to avoid this, but it's going to be biased towards our point of view. And it's going to be filled with jargon no matter how much we try to avoid it, because we're going to use our words to describe it. But what we mean when we, again, flip the script and start taking the customer's feedback and how they think about your product, how do they talk about it?
[00:16:30] How do they describe it to their friends at a bar? You turn that. Into you just flip that around. It makes a strategy, a lot easier for you to, to, to resolve and to kind of figure out, but it also makes it resonate with your base more than you would imagine.
[00:16:46] Sam: So true. Yeah. As you can't read the label from inside the jar and almost every case. So yeah, that, that is such a, such a good point. I want to move on to, How do you actually identify, you know, which customers to feature [00:17:00] because, obviously at a smaller startup stage, it could just be obvious, you know, you know, all your customers as, as the marketer you know, at other stages, like how do you think about kind of navigating that situation?
[00:17:12] When, you know, as, as the marketing leader, you may not have. Direct visibility into, you know, the, the health or just like the, all the nuances of where customers are. Like, you know, if, if I'm a marketer I've said, I want to make, you know, for, video testimonials this year and, and create like 15, you know, third-party reviews this quarter.
[00:17:34] Like, how do I actually go about, you know, or how might I go about Identifying like who the candidates are for for those, you know, advocacy activities.
[00:17:44] Harsha: Yes, I'm very passionate about this topic. Actually. I'm glad you brought it up because there could be so many ways to spin a story. And like, like we discussed earlier, a lot of times it would be biased based on your perspective. That's where it would like to likely to start, but it is very, very important for a [00:18:00] business, especially these days to really solidify your, your persona And your buyer persona your audience for who you're trying to tell the brand story and the product story. Right. And not just like you start with a persona you start with defining. Who they are, what they care about? Not just in terms of business needs, but emotional needs you know, people make decisions with their heart, not with their minds.
[00:18:27] So really understanding that perspective and what makes them tick. But then also the next step is clearly defining your ICP, your ideal customer profile. there's a lot of, Hey, what about, we're going to miss this, this type of buyer? Are we going to. not Appeal to that type of buyer. It's, it's easy to sprawl and it's easy to have those executive opinions of try to address all the needs.
[00:18:52] It's really important to define that ICP that you can't afford to miss that if you try to talk to everybody, you're going to talk to nobody. So [00:19:00] understanding that focus and then. Connecting that with the use cases for those ICPs What, what problems are they trying to solve? Make sure that you address that at a consultative level.
[00:19:13] And you're bringing the test. And again, it depends on where you're putting these quotes testimonials reviews and whatever it is. If you're putting it on the homepage, there is a different Type of story you want to put there. You want to talk about top-funnel problem-resolution perspective.
[00:19:29] You don't want to get get right into the product or get, into the weeds about, you know, how things work. Let's talk about the why at the beginning and, and the, and even the ROI and the impact that it's made on an organization. So there's a place for different kinds of testimonials. You want to start there, you want to select those kinds of testimonials, find your gaps for your ICP.
[00:19:49] Do we have the stories or is our target mid-market or enterprise, if it is, do we have enough stories there that support the use cases that they really need to solve? Or if we're going [00:20:00] downmarket as our growth strategy. Do we have enough of those brands that, this ideal customer profile is going to resonate with?
[00:20:07] At the end of the day, you want your audience to not only see that people are getting value, that your product solves the problem, but they also want to see themselves in those shoes. So you want to put up those brands titles and people that your ideal customer is going to really identify with.
[00:20:25] Sam: I feel like we're tying everything together from the previous points now as well. Like, you know, and you mentioned, you know, we didn't specifically hit on that, that importance of customer storytelling throughout the entire buyer journey. Right. And that's such a good point because. Going back to the self, you know, buyers, millennial buyers.
[00:20:43] Self-serving, you know, I, I feel like customer customer stories, it used to be like, you know, maybe three, four years ago. And sometimes some companies is still, is it used to be like, okay, like the buyer gets to the certain checkpoint later in the buying process. [00:21:00] And then, you know, we pull out the case studies to kind of.
[00:21:04] Push them over the hump or kick them across the goal line or whatever, you know, metaphor, idiom that, that people use. But the point is like, I, it sounds like, when you're saying it's like, it's really like, that's very much the old game. And like the new game is, is not, oh, like the new game is customer storage on throughout the whole buyer journey.
[00:21:21] but then there's the nuance to it, right? Like, as you said, it's like, you have to consider, you know, people at the top of the funnel.
[00:21:28] They have very different, you know, concerns. then, you know, someone who actually like, people at top of funnel, they, they don't usually even know that they have, they might not even admit that they have a problem yet.
[00:21:38] Right. So like, it sounds like that is, that is a key thing. It's like this whole, you know, buyer journey and understanding that in the light of what storage you put, where.
[00:21:47] Harsha: Yeah. There's absolutely a very well-known age-old construct that still is true today on, on buyer awareness status you start with unaware. You might not even realize you have a problem, like you said, then there's [00:22:00] pain-aware you know, you have a problem, but you don't really know that there are solutions or products for it.
[00:22:06] You're not even thinking about that. You're just researching. A topic to see how you can solve that problem. then you are solution-aware you know, that there are different products out there, but really may not be aware of your specific product. then product-aware aware of your specific product but didn't make a decision yet.
[00:22:22] And then fully aware. They probably really have done all their research. They're just trying to make a logistical call at this point There are all these stages. And you want to address stories in these awareness stages, but I'll tell you Sam, my perspective of the funnel has changed quite a bit in the last few years.
[00:22:40] We know now that a buyer journey is not linear. It's not linear anymore. We say, but I argue it probably has never been that linear we just like to put it in a nice clean diagram, like a SiriusDecisions funnel but that's not the case anymore. I work a lot with customers who use ABM Account-Based Marketing platforms like [00:23:00] Demandbase Terminus, or 6sense and what we're seeing is in that, the way the, the buyer journey is tracked people jump back and forth on those awareness stages all the time, the way it's scored is, is, is different in each of these platforms, but people take their own kind of journey and it's just not linear.
[00:23:20] when we create stories, when we create, bring the customer voice to our story, we've got to create a journey where people can hop around and self-serve, again, they're not going to go through the funnel we want them to go through. In general, we can say, this is top-of-funnel awareness, mid and bottom, but.
[00:23:38] People, you know, are smart and savvy today. they have information at their fingertips and so many places they can learn. they're going to pick their own path and we have to, the best we can do is be genuine and recognize those stages of awareness of your product and your solution and bring the customer voice forward.
[00:23:56] Do tickets.
[00:23:57] Sam: a simple, but [00:24:00] incredibly. Insight like, you know, the buyer journey isn't like those funnels or those, it's not that clear cut, even though we, you know, you, if you Google buyer journey, you know, that's what you get in Google image search, but
[00:24:13] Harsha: and loops and goes
[00:24:15] Sam: it's more of like a, maybe like amaze or like just a complete, you know, scribble and then there's.
[00:24:19] Yeah. Well at that point Let's talk about a big challenge that, you know, getting approvals, right? Like that's a big, you know, thing that every, all marketers have to deal with it, you know, whether it's it's a. specifically approvals for participating, you know? So it's like, whether it's asking for, you know, a review, a third-party review, like on trust radius whether it's asking for a video testimonial like testimonial hero or a reference call, there's always that sort of in delicate balance to, you know, get those agreements right.
[00:24:49] And, what kind of tips or perspective do you have to offer there? You know, for, for marketers who maybe haven't had as much experience in with.
[00:24:59] Harsha: Yeah, Sam, [00:25:00] I would say that the most important thing that we forget the most important thing about a story is the story itself. We put too much weight on getting people's names company names and. Getting the full identity I'm all about it. I think it would be great if we get that, but it'll also limit how many stories we can capture.
[00:25:22] So just focus on getting the story from, let's say you go to a big name company like IBM or Dell or something like that. you want to try and to get, trying to get approval from a, from a big brand It takes time and it takes of layers of approvals. maybe put that in a pastor on a, on a slower track.
[00:25:39] But the first thing you can get is I can get this quote from a person at this company a fortune 100 company or something like that. And here is the title of that person. and Here's what they said as a buyer. That's more important to me that it's a verified, review or or, or feedback from the right person.
[00:25:57] It matters less. It matters, but it [00:26:00] matters less what exactly the name of the person. is And so that's the way I think about it. That's the way I've learned that let's get it quickly and then get more layers around that testimonial. But it is really important to focus on getting as many stories as you can.
[00:26:15] And again, I think it comes down to the truth. We, we focus a lot on the truth. at TrustRadius that is the north star for us. And you're our compass. So to speak, speak a A lot of our reviews have the positive and negative, Even if it's a 10 out of 10 review, you're still going have the we're, we're going to push for the reviewer to give us the negatives as well.
[00:26:40] Everything has a pro and con because it is important to pull out the truth. and we encourage this with our customers where, you know, we have a badge called a true kind of a true certification. That is given to customers who really are not cherry-picking their reviews, that they put it out there. They put it on there [00:27:00] in product for people to just kind of go give it, not just connected to good experiences all the time, put it on their website.
[00:27:06] when you try to get that truth, then you're going to find. Good input coming out of it. customer testimonials are not just about marketing. A Lot of the value can also be, you're listening to your customer in that process. You're capturing what they're saying and using it for marketing, but a lot of our customers use it for product feedback.
[00:27:25] They use it for customer success processes, improving it. and They use it for ways to improve themselves. So I would say. When you seek a customer testimonial, seek it from the place of getting better as a company, as a brand, the secondary outcome would be putting the story out there. But if you seek it as getting true input, then you're going to get really, really good material you can work with
[00:27:51] Sam: That that's such a good, good tip. And, you know, it's, it's common sense. Right. And it's just being genuine and, and coming from the right place in which I [00:28:00] think everyone wants to do. But maybe they're, you know, maybe. It takes a lot of confidence and courage at the same time. Right. It's kind of a vulnerable right.
[00:28:08] To, to approach a customer like that. And yeah, that's a great, great point that we should all, you know, remind ourselves that like it's, it's okay to come from that place. And like, you know, we want the good and the bad we want the, the truth.
[00:28:23] Harsha: And going back to your original questions, how about getting approvals? I think taking this path of seeking the truth is going to be a lot more easier because. A lot of the time, a hesitancy and approval from a company is like, is this review too biased? Or is this quote too? Like, is it going to put me in, in a tough spot as a brand because we're representing our brand because we want, we want to tell the truth.
[00:28:44] And when you're letting people tell the truth, it's much easier to get approval, no matter what it might be, how you use it in your marketing is really up to you. Getting that out of your customers and really listening is probably the, the path of least resistance [00:29:00] to get approval internally and externally.
[00:29:02] Hey, we're looking for feedback. We're opening our ears, you know, one map two years, one mouth, right? So listening more and being able to, open up that kind of a mindset within your internally within your org. But also the way you ask for that is going to get us more volume that we can work with.
[00:29:20] Sam: Yeah, but that that's so true. And let's, let's switch gears to talk about like the different formats and, you know, the pros and cons of, of, of each perhaps, and kind of where you see the space. How do you think about, you know the different, you know, mediums and formats for, you know, customer storytelling, I, you know, specifically with the main, you know, big three being, video testimonials third-party, you know, reviews, and then, you know, the old classic one, which is that the written case study.
[00:29:51] Harsha: great question. I think it's important for us to think about customer proof as a portfolio. Of different types of acids.[00:30:00] I think video is the most powerful because of how much empathy it has and how much you know, we talked about this earlier is. It the, the most important thing about any stories to get your prospect to resonate that whether it is through a title or whether it's through a relatable company, but when you put a video on it, like it really adds that human dimension, right?
[00:30:26] Like a quote, a written quote, you don't, you don't see the face. I mean, you can put a picture there, but you don't see the person behind that. It is, it has its purpose. And so does video like video, doesn't always replace a written quote because not everybody has that medium to play a sound and watch a video, but it is, I would say whenever we can get a video testimonial.
[00:30:50] it can spin off a lot of things. You can take that video testimonial and convert it to a quote. You can take that convert to audio clip like that is the mother of all right. Like [00:31:00] we had a webinar the other day. We recently launched a partnership with sixth sense and we did a webinar with bringing two customers onto it along with 6 cents.
[00:31:08] So it was four of us having a conversation and it turned out to be a fantastic webinar with. 90 plus percent of the people who attended the webinars stayed almost to the end, which you don't see happen very much, unless it's a very engaging conversation. So at the end, we have this video recording, we are slicing it up.
[00:31:28] We are creating audio clips, video clips. You know, little things that sales can use, we can use in social. There's just so much you can do with one asset. So starting there is always very beneficial when you can, when you can get your hands on it. And especially, I love the kind of conversations where it's not just me talking to customers or customers, just having a monologue.
[00:31:52] I love the conversations where two customers are having a diet. About your brand and you're just there to [00:32:00] facilitate the conversation. Those are genuine trustworthy, and they bring out insights that like you don't even imagine to ask as a biased persona in that conversation.
[00:32:13] Sam: That. Yeah. So much to unpack there. I mean, that. The video, being the, sort of like ultimate medium, where you can kind of spin off all these different, taxed, audio, et cetera. And then the, the customers talking to customers, how do you facilitate that?
[00:32:27] Like, is that, you know, something that happens at a, you know, usergroup or advisory board or the kind of digital or remote version of that? how does a marketer who wants to get those conversations going kind of facilitate.
[00:32:40] Harsha: Yeah, great question. It's a challenge for a lot of companies. The, the more siloed. As teams within the org, the harder it is with us, we're a very tight knit, nimble team. So like I'm involved in customer success conversations all the time. It's not, we don't plan for it. We just put ourselves in [00:33:00] positions where.
[00:33:01] Happenstance. We hear something even like, let's say you and a customer success colleague are listening to the same conversation you would hear and capture different things because you're come from different perspectives. And basically as a marketer, inserting yourself into those conversations and not waiting for things to come to you I think is the best approach to getting your hands on those, those really juicy and helpful customer clips.
[00:33:27] For example, if you go on TrustRadius intent data intent data is one of our big initiatives that really is driving a lot of value for our customers and growth for our company today. If you go to our company website on under intent data, every audio clip you see in there was not planned. It was with Alex.
[00:33:45] McWethy one of, or one of our customers and the demand gen leader. I was just having a conversation with her. I was part of a customer success call the last five, 10 minutes. I asked, Hey Alice, can I ask you some questions about how you think about intent data? And [00:34:00] she was just having conversation with me.
[00:34:02] It's a bad quality video. And we've spent, this is another thread. We spend too much time thinking about quality. I think it is helpful, but what's more important is the quality of the conversation. Right? And I just took those clips and they're three or four of those all over our website. It tells a story perfectly.
[00:34:19] So putting yourself in situations where you can grab those. And they're not as planned and Alex at the end of the call was like, well, I'm happy to rerecord this. If you want like a more cleaner conversation, I'm like, no, this is genuine. This is perfect. We're just going to use this. And even, you know, I asked you Sam, before this call, like, Hey, I don't have it.
[00:34:39] I only have a MacBook pro camera. Is that good enough? And your response was exactly on the same lines. That's, it's great if you have a good camera, but what's more important as a conversation and the value in the story that we get from it.
[00:34:51] Sam: So true.
[00:34:52] terms of the so third-party reviews and actually versus, you know, the case studies, right? Like the written [00:35:00] case study eyes. So like for us, you know, we don't actually do any written case studies. We have found that third-party reviews like, like trust, radius and video testimonials are basically all we need.
[00:35:12] I mean, that could change, but like, that's been, been great for us. I sort of feel like, you know, I'm sure there's a, still a place for, you know, written case studies, but I do think there's probably like I need to evolve them. Right. What I'm genuinely curious, like, what are your thoughts there?
[00:35:29] Obviously, maybe a little biased with trust radius, but like, what are your thoughts on like, you know, what is the, what is the place of like the kind of the written case study nowadays, and, and if it's, if it's going to be still be relevant, You know, is it still relevant? And if it's going to be relevant, how does it change?
[00:35:49] Because like, let's be honest. Like a lot of these PDF case studies are becoming, you know, if they're still done the way they're done five years ago, they're they're completely relevant. Right.
[00:35:58] Harsha: Yeah. I mean, I fall asleep [00:36:00] reading most case studies, right? Like. That's that's the challenge of bringing up is case studies. Can't similar to the buyer journey. You can't do the same thing we used to do and be effective with it. Like we got to rethink case studies, white papers, all these things, they apply more to some industries like more technical it or research-based industries.
[00:36:19] People are looking for some of those, you know, factual knowledge, less opinions, but case studies end up being more opinions to it. More it's ended up being how you tell your story. I think there's a couple of things there. The main focus is, should be telling the story in the customer's point of view.
[00:36:38] one of the things we miss is telling the human story. We talk about the brand. We talk about the company, did this companies don't do things. People do things. it's important to put the people in the. focus And put the company in the background. it's not like it's not there, but the story I want to tell the story of Sam, I don't want to tell the story of testimonial hero, right.[00:37:00]
[00:37:00] It's Sam doing this, make Sam the hero people connect with people. They don't connect with companies. So it was important for us to bring those forward in stories. I love seeing that when, I see your video testimonials, that you guys produce, you have a lot of focus on the human and their success story in the background of the company, which is what people want as a buyer.
[00:37:20] Like when I, when I'm looking at it as a prospect, the empathy I want to feel is I can do what this person's doing. I can be a hero. too Right. That's what we want to make sure we don't miss when we capture these stories. the same thing applies to case studies as well. A lot of case studies tend to be dry because they talk about just the out, like, your traditional business school format, context, action result.
[00:37:46] Great. That's good. But don't leave the human out, put the human back into the story. I start most of my case studies. with this person is at this role at this company. And here's the challenge they were trying to solve [00:38:00] at the time when they started talking to TrustRadius here's how they went and solved that problem. So your just a, it's a, it's a hero's journey, right? You guys do this in your storytelling as well. the hero's journey is not just limited to video testimonials and marketing in general, it's it should be applied to all aspects of marketing.
[00:38:19] That includes how you write your case studies, and that will resonate with your audience, which again, connects back the millennial audience. Who's looking for more truth. more Human marketing and less jargon. that's what brings all your marketing materials to be in unison and really resonate with who you're trying to.
[00:38:41] Sam: Yeah. And I think that, yeah, that exactly connects back to the buyers, the whole like buyers, your journey in. Because I'm at least speaking for, for us and, and video testimonials, like, I love telling that the human story but that's exactly why we create, you know, multiple versions of the video for [00:39:00] different, you know, attention spans, right?
[00:39:02] Cause like it can actually take, you know, 30, 45 seconds to, you know, set the. Set the context around that human story. And if someone is super early on in the funnel and they don't even have that problem awareness, they may not stick around. Right. that may be early on, might be a better time for the 32nd, you know, video testimonial.
[00:39:23] That's more problem specific. Right. So like, it's such a good point and it ties back. To that customer journey and the way I think of it as like, as the buyer goes through the journey, you know, even though it's not linear, you, you sort of earn, you know, more of their attention, but the longer they go through it, right. Like we think of it as like, Expect them to consume as much, you know content, you know, early on. Right. So like we don't, that's why we have, you know, the 32nd testimonial version early on.
[00:39:52] But yeah. Do you think of it to that extent? Like how you kind of have to like earn their trust and earn their attention and therefore, like, you know, as, as it [00:40:00] proceeds and therefore the they'll consume more of your customer content.
[00:40:03] Harsha: Yeah, earning people's trust and attention I think is at at the, core of marketing in general. If you take a very simple. Use case like writing copy for a webpage or a case study. And many leaders have said this in marketing. And I love hearing this more and more in our space right now, but the goal of a headline is to get you to read the next line.
[00:40:27] the goal of that next line is to get you to read the next line. And so on Dave Gerhardt talks about this. he's the chief brand officer now at drift. And like, I, I, that I think is super true. Like when you're trying to get people's attention, the way to tell a story is to get that progressive trust and that built curiosity, but also give them value in each thing they read.
[00:40:50] that translates not just to copywriting, but the way you tell a video story, the way. you Tell any marketing narrative is people's attention is really [00:41:00] short. Sam, as you know, there's so much going on so much to consume and so many distractions with an information-heavy world today, you can't keep people's attention.
[00:41:09] Unless you tell a strong story that doesn't always mean brevity. And brevity doesn't always mean being concise as not being short, Being concise means telling the story in the shortest way, you can tell while being effective. So. there's, you know, I forget who said this, but there is no such thing as too long of a copy only too boring of a copy.
[00:41:31] you can write a half-page paragraph that I can't even get through. Or you can write a seven-page case study. That's like I'm turning pages. because this is really interesting. You're you're speaking my language. You're telling me what I want to hear. You're solving my problem.
[00:41:46] So it really goes back to, Earning their trust step-by-step and keeping them engaged through the journey. the best way we can do that is, again, going back to truth, going back to genuine storytelling and using the customer's [00:42:00] voice in that, because that's what they want to hear. That's what's interesting.
[00:42:03] Not what you want to say. They want to hear what their peers want to say.
[00:42:05] Sam: so true. And so if I'm a marketing. And I'm like, okay, great. Like I want to like catch up, you know, I want to like make up some ground here and, and get my company, you know, in, in a place where customer stories are, are not just a neutral, they're a true kind of competitive advantage. bring us home.
[00:42:23] Like where should I start? If I'm that, that marketer, you know, how can I kind of get started?
[00:42:29] Harsha: Yeah. I think the best way to get started Sam is to go find. Your customer voice through one-on-one conversations, right? Still get warmed up, start jumping into customer success, conversations and calls. Start jumping on sales calls. And just for us to be a fly on the wall, speak up, have a conversation.
[00:42:47] Then you'll start to understand your customer's perspective, where they're coming from at the same time as a, as a company and a brand and a product you want to build some of this. Your review presence is one channel, right? Like, [00:43:00] yeah, I'm going to talk about it. I work at TrustRadius and I live in this world, but I really stay in this world because I see this changing the way buyers buy and how vendors sell without having, without having friction.
[00:43:13] Right? Like there's going to be a better match when you connect the dots for them. So finding that voice through your customer testimonials, and we always advocate presence on multiple review sites, right. It's not just like, Hey, only come to TrustRadius that that's not how buyers buy. They go shop around.
[00:43:32] But what's when, when it comes to picking who you're going to ask for your content first, it kind of goes back to what was talked about in the beginning, which is you have very limited favorites you can ask from customers. So how are you going to use those favors? You're going to ask them for, Hey, can you give me a rating on this side and that side and that side, by the way, there's another side that popped up.
[00:43:52] Before you do that, you want to make sure that you capture the value that they can give you. So get depth with first touch. [00:44:00] So being able to pull those conversations in creative process for you to drive some reviews by yourself and going to a vendor like TrustRadius and, and working with them can help you accelerate that.
[00:44:12] But you want to start things seed things so you can get close to customers. You can, you can understand. you can start to bring in the language into your own storytelling and then scaling that is where you might need help, but starting, it is really all in your hands as well.
[00:44:28] Sam: I love that. And, and yeah, I mean, personally speaking, like one of my favorite things about, review sites first, it's direct from the voice of the customer. Right? Like, and I think, you know, as a lot of buyers know when they read a, a written case study, it's, it's been massaged a lot, you know what I mean?
[00:44:44] maybe even just by the legal team of the. Testifying, you know, party, but yeah, I think that that direct, you know, that direct voice is incredibly valuable for not only, you know us to [00:45:00] understand, you know for copywriting as we talked about and, and, and our narrative, but also, you know, for prospects.
[00:45:05] Harsha: that's one avenue, right? Salmon. And as we talked about the importance of getting high quality testimonials, right? Like the video review we talked about is the mother of all testimonials, because it can be translated to so many other mediums. So if you have. Find your, your evangelists find your best customers across use cases across the verticals that you serve and go have a deep conversation with them.
[00:45:32] Like I had with Alex about intent data and see what you can capture and see what you can spin off. And then, you know, we signed up to work with you guys testimonial hero because. You know, being a testimonial company, it's still hard for us to get that kind of high quality video. We don't specialize in, in video, we do produce a lot of, you know, video reviews and video content, but it's not, not like how you guys produce it.
[00:45:56] And that is really powerful for marketing. So[00:46:00] I would really recommend finding the customers that are your biggest evangelist and capturing them. kind of full narrative on video, which will really give you a great start for marketing, because again, converts to text converts to audio, video clips, social email sales, whatever you want from, you can take one conversation and spin it off into a, a set of assets that gives you a great post.
[00:46:24] Sam: well, fantastic. Harsha. How can people get in touch with you if they want to connect and learn more?
[00:46:29] Harsha: Yeah. You can always reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm very active on LinkedIn. I love the platform just to conversation that happens there. So definitely look me up, on LinkedIn, just search my name. And there's not very many of me on there, luckily, so hopefully you can find me.
[00:46:44] Or my email is also harsher dot color firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:46:49] So that's simple.
[00:46:50] Sam: Fantastic. Well, thanks so much, Harsha. This has been an absolute pleasure. So many so many great insights here. We'll have to do it again sometime.
[00:46:57] Harsha: Absolutely. I love being on the [00:47:00] show. And it's a, it's a big honor to be one of your first guests. So, thank you. Thank you for inviting me, Sam.
[00:47:05] Sam: Awesome. Well, that was a fantastic episode folks with harsher Kala, Paula, so many good insights there. That is when I will be listening to you know, again right after this. I think some of the key things to kinda underscore, the importance of, at first and foremost, defining your ICP you know, getting clear on your ICP.
[00:47:26] And then, you know, go into your customers and letting you know their real voice, you know, actually inform so much of your strategic narrative for product marketing copywriting lots of good points around the buyer journey, not being linear and you know, the need to self serve for, for buyers today.
[00:47:44] Thanks for listening. And as always, this is Sam from testimonial hero and we look forward to another episode soon. And if you have any other guests, you would recommend that you want to hear from just shoot me an email. It's email@example.com. [00:48:00] And until next time, this has been the state of customer storytelling.