By Jack Liles / TechCXO
For an early stage startup team, scoring those first few customers is one of the challenges and accomplishments entrepreneurs never forget. Whether with a group of friends, former colleagues, business contacts, old school chums, family members… one can’t express enough gratitude for those who were first to take the plunge with your essentially untested new tool, expertise or business process.
As the model matures and begins to gain traction, a new sales hurdle looms ahead: Selling the product for real money, to unfamiliar people at new companies. Strangers. People who have no reason to trust you or your brand.
A powerful marketing and sales tool to leverage with new customer prospects, and your new, unknown brand, is the Success Story. A Success Story, perhaps called a Case Study, is a narrative outlining the experience of a customer that experienced favorable results or outcomes as a consequence of your product. Specific results, quantifiable outcomes, and a first-person endorsement that your brand delivers on its promise.
As the driver and leader of a growing start-up, your focus on developing and publishing early success stories can drive an important element of your culture: the commitment to strong customer experiences and the results the brand delivers. To grow and scale with purpose, your team should understand the critical importance of customer success, and the role of these powerful stories that compel new customers to buy your brand.
As examples, Infusionsoft has a strong lineup of success stories on its website. A local example in Charleston is Boomtown, with several stories on its website, also utilized by their sales resources with earning new business.
When thinking about building solid and essential Success Stories for your business, consider these tips:
- Success Stories don’t have to be complicated or lengthy. But they do need to communicate quantifiable success, and deliver the message that the customer was pleased with their decision to trust your brand and people.
- Success Stories are cost effective to create and communicate. Just ensure your story and the medium are put together professionally, in a polished manner that reflects positively on your brand. You don’t have to hire a marketing agency to create and deliver your stories, but at least ensure they’re edited and sanity-checked by a marketing/sales savvy colleague you trust.
- Don’t feel anxious about approaching your early stage customers to help with a Success Story. Even if there were some bumps in the road or short term failures, your diligence and focus on their satisfaction will inspire them to share their success and sing your praises.
- I coach more advanced stage companies to find a way to introduce their Success Story program early in the customer lifecycle. Let the prospective customer know that you’re planning on their success with your product/service, and you’ve got a program in place to create the story.
- Remember that these stories will evolve during the customer lifecycle. Be prepared to edit or update these narratives as your customers experience new successes or create more powerful results with your company.
Be conscious of Success Story creation as you nurture and covet your first generation of customers. These stories and references will be critical to the growth and acceleration of your business and brand.
Jack Liles is a Strategy, Marketing and Sales Partner with TechCXO’s Charleston office. TechCXO Partners have or are currently serving in strategic leadership roles with Charleston companies Boomtown, People Matter and PokitDok.