business storytelling

Where’s the Voice of the Customer?

blog 11.20

Everyone loves a good story. As children our brains are trained to recognize stories as a pattern and it goes from there. We learn how to read, how to write, we start watching movies…and it’s all about the story.

The bulk of communication we do on a day-to-day basis is rooted in stories. If you stop and really observe, it’s pretty much all stories, all the time. And with good reason, stories are a vehicle for breaking down concepts and sharing ideas. Because, wouldn’t it be really annoying if we just cited facts and figures to each other instead?

With so much storytelling around us, that’s why I find it surprising that entrepreneurs rely so heavily on one type of story. There’s so many types of stories we could (and should) be sharing, yet the Hero’s Journey is left to do most of the heavy lifting by many entrepreneurs.

The Hero’s Journey is a storytelling style that we’ve all been taught thanks to Star Wars and other epic stories.  The term Hero’s Journey was coined by Joseph Campbell who broke down 17 parts of the journey. But I’ll give you the short version – hero lives in ordinary world, hero is called to adventure, hero refuses the call, hero meets with mentor (ahem, Yoda), hero decides to heed the call and leaves to pursue it, hero undergoes tests, allies and enemies, hero goes through ordeal, hero survives and is ready to see their journey through, they are then severely tested (think final showdown with Darth Vader) and they come home. The end.

While there’s nothing wrong per se with the Hero’s Journey, it assumes certain things, starting with the fact that your audience is engaged enough to hear your epic tale of how you ended up where you are today.

There’s More Than the Hero’s Journey

Origin stories are important, but they shouldn’t be the only story you are telling. The idea that your audience cares that much about your story is inherently flawed, especially if you are a newer entrepreneur. Yes, your origin story can help create a connection, but newsflash, it’s not all about you.

These stories are compelling as we can relate, but consider this: Every single entrepreneur quit something to get to where they are today. So you quitting your job shouldn’t be the foundation of your storytelling, because it’s pretty common and not memorable.  Ditto, having a dream, following your passion or breaking the rules.  Everyone’s doing it.

To move beyond the Hero’s Journey, one of the best places to start is by using the voice of your customer. That’s right, you need to stop talking and let your customers do the talking instead! You make them the hero.

You’ve probably heard the term “social proof” which speaks to the proof you are able to provide in terms of your social media channels, reviews, customer list and more.  Social proof is not something you can’t afford to ignore and if you do it well – you’ll gain a competitive advantage because most people are relying on quotes from customers as their sole way of sharing customer stories.

Using the Ultimate in Social Proof – The Customer Voice

Sure, you have a “praise” or other page on your site with quotes from happy customers, but so does pretty much any other coach, consultant or service-provider worth their salt. Testimonials are necessary, but they really are only part of the equation.

There’s so many ways you can use the customer voice in your marketing from case studies to videos to joint speaking engagements. The Voice of the Customer is so effective because your client can readily identify with the journey of their peers.  Instead of you saying how awesome you are, you become a part of the story.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many B2B companies on these exact types of programs getting their customers involved in sharing their stories. And while I learned a lot putting these concepts into action, the biggest value of these tools was to bring in prospects and then to help close the sale.

Before you shut this idea down or dismiss it because it’s a big ask – consider this, done the right way it actually helps your client build their business too. Not so crazy now is it? That’s how I was able to convince some big names over the years to go on their record about work with my clients. They did it not because they loved the product or service, but because it was actually beneficial to them as they were getting media coverage, speaking engagements and so much more served up to them on a silver platter.

Don’t think just because you’re not selling a $100K server-based solution that customer voice is not for you. Having a customer tell the story instead of you spewing out another bullet list of benefits, is WAY more credible and helps to humanize what you do.

If you really want to stand out, this is a proven way to get the job done and rise above the sea of same-sy people in your market. Because your ability to deliver this proof and share these stories could be the thing that helps you transform your business from average to amazing.

The choice is yours, you can keep telling the same, tired story, or you can showcase your leadership by sharing your client’s stories.

blog 11.20 brewery
If you’re ready to up your game and close more sales in 2015, The Client Brewery is exactly what you need.  If you’re doing business, online stories are critical to your success, and this offering is designed to help you get the proof you need so you’ll stand out.

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