What’s in a story?
Success stories are excellent tools for sales and marketing professionals. Case studies, customer testimonials and endorsements quickly build credibility with potential clients that may never have heard of you or your business before.
This is especially true for B2B businesses which are prevalent in the construction industry. If a CEO, business owner, executive or project manager is willing to vouch for your company and share a success story, that endorsement means a lot to prospective clients.
Almost anyone can find stats to back up their business or a third party ‘expert’ willing to put their name to a claim made by a business – and informed clients know this. When a high ranking person, without any vested interest, is willing to stake their professional reputation on your company, clients notice.
Success stories have an emotional effect on potential clients. Numbers, statistics and ‘expert’ endorsements don’t pack the same emotional punch as firsthand experiences told by credible sources.
According to the Journal of Marketing Research, brands that illicit a higher emotional response enjoy triple the amount of word-of-mouth exposure compared to brands that fail to make an equivalent emotional connection.
What should you do with your success stories?
Don’t bury your success stories on an obscure page that clients are unlikely to access. Feature them (or at least parts of them) front and centre on your home page. A revolving front page image, with different images and quotes, is a powerful visual and emotional message to customers. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a dedicated section on your website devoted to success stories and testimonials.
Ensure this dedicated page is carefully laid out and customer focussed. A well organised success story page allows customers to navigate by product, service, cost, location and other relevant criteria.
Focus on the narrator
Don’t just promote the success story, highlight the person telling the story. If the testimonial is from another construction owner then link to that business’s website. It will emphasize the legitimacy of the endorsement.
We live in an age that (rightfully) encourages online skepticism. If a CEO, business owner or other relevant professional gives you an endorsement then put a face to the name (and a website link) whenever possible to build legitimacy and to illicit an emotional response.
Harness the power of case studies
According to LinkedIn’s Peter Dorfman, a case study “is a narrative that validates the mission of the company and its effectiveness in execution.” Case studies can be published online, printed and given to potential clients at events, placed in relevant publications as part of a print advertising strategy, or shared on social media channels.
Online, it is important to make your success stories publically available. However, if you choose to turn them into a case study consider restricting some information. Don’t charge anything for access, instead create a signup form to collect emails from interested parties for your sales team to contact.
Leverage customer reviews
Unsolicited online reviews made by clients are success stories that should be leveraged as much as possible. In fact, “85% of consumers said they read up to 10 reviews before feeling they can trust a business” and “88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.” Although they are generally short, reviews can be the most compelling success story that your business has to offer.
According to Nick Cicero of Socialfresh.com, “customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%.” Utilize success stories to create or enhance blog posts, advertorials, and other content which will in turn generate leads. “90% of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions,” Dimensional Research reports.
Show, don’t tell
You’re in construction. People build things with your materials. The best way to tell clients what you do is by showing them. Photos of a completed project are a success story in themselves. Of course, a picture can only say so much, and should ideally be used in conjunction with a review.
Video testimonials are worth their weight in gold and can sometimes be difficult to procure. You can instead include written testimonials in your video. What matters most is that putting success stories into a visual format increases the likelihood they’ll be shared on social media by 40 times.
According to the Construction Marketing Association, 97% of construction companies are already using social media to spread their success stories. Using a visual format will only increase the effectiveness of this strategy.
Getting success stories
Getting a client to provide a success story can be difficult. Reviews are often the easiest method, but they only work for B2C companies, and don’t come with the same sense of authenticity as success stories told by professionals.
For B2B situations it is common practice to offer some sort of incentive in exchange for the right to publish a success story. Offering a discounted price is one of the most common methods, and completely ethical when an endorsement is coming on behalf of a business – but beware of personal gifts or favours to an individual – that may cross the ethical line.