Looking for a way to nudge a prospect into purchasing and becoming a valued customer? A compelling customer success story can do the trick. Clearly communicating how your product or service has helped solve a real world problem for a customer makes your company’s offerings relatable and tangible to others in a positive and effective way different from all other types of marketing and advertising.

No matter whether you use the term case study, testimonial or customer success story, it is one of the most powerful content marketing approaches companies can use today. A customer success story demonstrates the benefits of your products, your services, your company — rather than just tell about them. Delivering this type of differentiation during a buyer’s journey can be the turning point that helps a prospect imagine themselves in a happy customer’s shoes and want the same thing.

Now the trick is to write a good customer success story. To help get your wheels turning, below are some proven tactics and a framework by content marketer, Ann Handley, for creating a story that puts your company in a cape as the role of a superhero. You can’t beat that, so here’s how to get started:

Find the Right Customer – Hubspot notes three types of customers that make for successful stories and should be identified by your company. 1. You want a customer who has a great grasp of your product or service. Someone who can speak knowledgeably will better be able to describe the value of working with you. 2. Consider a customer that has seen a great ROI. A customer that has experienced remarkable results will convey enthusiasm and be a champion for your business. 3. Smaller companies will greatly be helped if they have a customer with name recognition. A known client can lend credibility to your own name.

Forms & Approval – Get a signed Case Study Release form. Explain how, what and where you plan to use the information they provide. You’ll need to develop a questionnaire that looks to attain information you want based on your goal for the story. Determine if you need to schedule a conversation with the customer to get further details. Share the draft and make any necessary changes before gaining Final Written Approval.

General Setup –

Start with a quick bulleted list of facts if your customer is an organization, helping readers quickly identify relatable information to their own business:

  • Organization’s Name & Contact Person
  • Location (city & state)
  • Industry
  • Annual Revenue (if available)
  • Number of Employees (if available)
  • Any other pertinent fact to your industry

Next comes the title, and then write a quick summary or highlights section that is brief and easily describes the gist of the story.

Lastly, keep the actual story short. Really, write no more than a page or two or about 500 words.

More about the Story – The key is to have readers get to know the person (alongside the company) so they can start caring about him or her and the situation. Start out by using the person’s name and describing the problem or challenge the person has. You need to make your audience understand what this issue costs him or her – maybe in terms of stress, resources/money or missed opportunities. A customer success story while for business has to convey emotion for people to truly make a connection with it. The reader will then feel good to know the problem was solved and your company was the reason for that.

Solution Time – This is where the magic happens so take a little time with the solution. Don’t be afraid to mention things that didn’t initially work smoothly or required additional attention by your company. Every person (company) is different; knowing that your company is willing to work through the hiccups is valuable.

Results, Results, Results – Let your readers (A.K.A. future customers) fully understand and feel how much better, easier, happier, etc. your customer’s life is because his ore her problem has been solved. If you feel it’s appropriate, emphasize the key takeaways you want to be sure readers see.

Multiply the Fun – Consider making a video for people to see and hear directly from the customer how your company helped them. Remember to keep the video short, especially if you are going to post it to social media channels. And don’t forget a good customer success story can be turned into other marketing formats like an infographic for your Instagram or Pinterest channel.

Additional Resources:

Inspire Customers with User-Generated Content

Why It Matters: Proving the Value of Your Content to Prospects

Content Marketing Assessment