One of the most important tools in marketing. And how you can apply it, if you haven’t already.

If not the most important storytelling tool for a business: 

Customer testimonials (or reviews).

Amazon’s success is based on it.

TripAdvisor’s entire business is made from it. 

Etsy lives by it.

Google’s is a short search away.

And the list goes on.

On Amazon, you can ready every review, watch videos and pictures others have posted about a product, and even see the percentages per star (1 being the lowest, and 5 being the ultimate).

TripAdvisor’s entire business model is based on “rankings” from individuals who’ve (hopefully) already experienced the restaurant, B&B, hotel and what have you.

You can see how many people are viewing a certain hotel at the same time as you, read reviews from others, and even sort by “Traveler Ranked.” 

On Etsy, you not only see the number of reviews per product, you can also see the number of reviews for the specific shop, as well as the number of purchases.

Why does it work so well?

People trust other people, not business jargon or elaborate corporate promises.

Imagine seeing 1000 mostly positive reviews for a product which include stories like “it has changed our lives” and “it helps my toddler sleep better at night” or “I’ve bought it for all of my friends,” as well as videos of users easily installing the product in their living rooms; versus looking at a description of features without a single review and maybe three awkward pictures that don’t give all the angles. Which one would add to your cart?

It’s another way of asking a friend, without asking a friend.

It’s another way of asking a friend, without asking a friend

Of course, the practice is not perfect, and fraudsters have infiltrated the system as they would any other. But this shouldn’t stop you from seeking organic customer reviews and stories. 

Why do these reviews, and the stories they tell, do wonders? 

They help our hero (your customer) visual herself solving her own issue. And thereby build trust in your product or desire for your service.

They’re about showing, not telling.

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Anton Chekhov

You can’t always ask a friend, but you can often read (or listen to) a review from someone similar to you.

Other ways you can capitalize on this phenomenon

Your story doesn’t have to take the shape of an online review of a product or service.

Here are a few other ways you can capture those authentic stories and help your hero make her decision:

  • Capture stories from satisfied customers and use them in your various marketing tools.
    • Make sure, however, that you catch a more elaborate story than simply “Loved this service” or “Enjoyed working with Phil”–see if they can speak to what problem it solved and how they’ve overcome an issue using your services.
    • Ask if you can use your customer’s name, company name (if applicable), and even picture (the more developed your story, the more impact it will have). 
    • From there, you can develop quotations, videos, or written testimonials, and etc.
  • Interview clients about their businesses in a YouTube video series or podcast and share it away — make them the star or hero of your story.
    • This way, other potential customers can learn how your solutions can apply to their specific problems.
    • If you simply add a list of solutions on your webpage, it might be difficult for customers to see how exactly those apply to them. But if you offer a story about one construction firm’s success, another might see themselves reflected in it and give you a call.  
  • Invite clients to speak at your next event — for example: to an external-facing conference, where your potential clients might linger.
    • Again: the storytelling will be a lot more powerful coming from your hero, than from a PowerPoint slide or a printed pamphlet listing your services in bullet point form.
  • Invite clients to speak at internal events and interact with your own employees — for example: when you present a new strategic plan.
    • Your employees will start to believe your story/message and see concrete results of how their hard work is helping your hero thrive. 

At the end of the day, your customers and potential customers are but human beings seeking help. And your business is (often) another human being looking to assist.

If you don’t speak to one another more often, you might not only miss opportunities to connect, you might miss impactful stories that can serve to bring more human beings (or potential customers) together (i.e. grow your business).

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