5 Steps to Effective Success Stories

One of the best ways to communicate the power of your company’s technology is showing how customers are using it to solve business challenges. This is done using written or video formats that describe how a customer uses a given technology. Whether you call them success stories, case studies or application briefs, every vendor—and a growing number of print service providers—has a few of these on their websites. Too bad many of them don’t work very well.

The most common format is the formulaic one, usually specified by marketing or PR folks who either inherited this style as a corporate boilerplate or are afflicted with terminally linear thinking. This format divides the story into discrete chunks, sometimes with specific word counts per chunk. These sections often bear predictable subtitles such as: The Company. The Challenge. The Solution. The Benefit.

Yawn.

The core information is probably there, but with rare exceptions this format yields bland, stiff, unimaginative documents that are light on details, have all the allure of material safety data sheets, and barely scratch the surface of how a product solved a particular challenge. Most important, they impart few clues as to the value of services or technologies described. Your company deserves better.

Tell a Story
So instead, tell a story in a way that engages the reader. Since tales of printing equipment and software merge technology and business issues, it’s important to explain how this happens in ways that connect with readers.

The story should read like a good magazine article. This can require more words than the formulaic approach, so tight writing is important. It’s fine to keep within a specific word count, but make all the words work to tell the story while keeping it alive on the page.

Give examples readers can identity with and do it right at the beginning. If they don’t see “what’s in it for them,” they will bail out fast. The main story should provide enough detail to show that the problems and challenges described are clearly not trivial and that solving them was an important business issue.

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Noel Ward is Managing Director of Brimstone Hill Associates, which specializes in marketing communications in the printing industry, including video production. He can be reached at 603-672-3635 or via email at noel@brimstonehill.com. His website is brimstonehill.com, and he has a YouTube channel.
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