Retail Observer

March 2020

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 45 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM MARCH 2020 46 Y ou've won the customer. They've bought what you're selling, and now they're telling their friends and associates and posting your praises on social media. They're thrilled! In short, they love you. Congratulations! You now possess the single most valuable asset for winning new business. Mountains of research have shown what our own common sense should tell us: that there's simply no better way to generate sales than by proving your value with customer testimonials. Why then do so many businesses stumble when it comes to harvesting this easy-to-gather, low-hanging fruit? More often than not, it's because they haven't understood the dynamics of effective storytelling. It's not for lack of trying. If you browse the "Customer Success" or "Testimonials" sections on most business websites, you'll find a collection of tortured copy with all the humanity washed out of it. Instead of great stories that get people smiling and make their hearts start racing, you'll find marketing platitudes, meaningless statistics, and words that no real person would ever utter. This is what happens when businesses make the most fatal mistake of all: shining the spotlight on their own fabulousness instead of trusting the customers to share their honest experiences. When a customer loves you enough to speak out publicly on your behalf, it's because something memorable has happened to them during an encounter with your business. It was a human experience, which makes it the very essence of a great story. Customers express their love in many ways – on social media, on Yelp, Facebook, or Instagram, and with comments on your own site. Your job is to start tapping these pure gold nuggets of goodness. At the other end of the spectrum are the formal assets that you spend money to cultivate, create, and publish. These might include testimonials (first-person accounts) and case studies, conveyed through in-depth presentations using video and/or words. Customers who are willing to participate in case studies and testimonials have great value for your business, and as such are often worthy of compensation of some sort. In many cases, however, the exposure you can offer them is enough, provided you make them feel honored and respected. Here are some pointers that will help you capitalize on your customers' enthusiasm by telling stories that generate genuine interest. • Focus first on what matters to the customer. The event that lights up a customer might be as simple as a cashier who said a kind word at the right moment. The important thing is that it had meaning in the customer's life. And that's what you need to tap, front and center. Never put your business's proud messages ahead of presenting the customer's story simply and honestly. Never try to replace the customer's language with your own. Trust in the priceless goodness that will come to you, even if the customer barely mentions your products or your brand. • You are not the hero. When it comes to presenting your customers' stories, it's vital to remember that you are never, ever the hero. You may play the role of wise mentor or sage, but the customer is always the hero. Your product may be the catalyst or enabler, but you are never more than a supporting player. The customer defines the roles and assigns the meaning of the story. You don't get to hijack the moment and cut-and-paste your marketing slogans to proclaim what you think it all means. • Emotion is more important than numbers. We humans are ruled by our emotions, far more than most of us would be willing or able to admit. In capturing the customer's story, tune into the emotional core and tell it accordingly. Align your core business messages carefully with the lessons and wisdom that are embedded in the story. Can you use data? Of course! But only in service to the story. Remember that people digest data and remember it far more vividly when it's presented in the context of emotions they can resonate with. It takes hard work and courage to deliver case studies and testimonials that are honest, respectful and authentic. But the payoff can be tremendous. To build bonds of trust, confidence, and brand appeal, there's simply no better story you can tell than the one you've earned. CONVERTING CUSTOMER LOVE INTO HIGH-IMPACT STORIES Mario Juarez Business Mindset RO Mario Juarez is an organizational consultant, coach, and motivational speaker. He focuses on helping organizations and individuals achieve better business results through strategic storytelling. An award-winning former journalist, Mario led a series of innovative communications initiatives at Microsoft before founding his company, StoryCo, which serves clients across a range of industries.

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