Content Strategy & Design

Rethinking the testimonial: ask for a success STORY!

Persuasion and influence come more naturally when you can have others vouch for you—the proof is in the social pudding! When we find ourselves in a situation, unsure of how to behave, we look to others to influence our actions. Even if it means going against our own beliefs and values.

Fans at a Depeche Mode concert, Oakland Arena, 10/10/2017

This tendency is known as a conformity bias. I’m sure you’ve experienced this “herd mentality” while you’re shopping around on Amazon’s mobile app late at night. If you're on the fence about a product, where do you look for help? The customer review section!

An image depicting stars from customer reviews.

Reviews work because when it comes to spending our hard-earned money, the opinions of others DO MATTER.

User reviews, case studies, endorsements, and testimonials are incredible ways to increase social proof with your online offerings. And while likes and positive comments do to help, when someone is ready to decide on your brand, a testimonial in the form of a customer story can help balance the scale in your favor. A story adds that emotional element required to resonate with and drive your audience to act.

A testimonial versus a story

For example, which of the following statements feels more impactful to you?

Option A

“I highly recommend Bethany’s coaching services. She is warm and knowledgeable. You would be lucky to have her as your life coach.”

Option B

“When I first contacted Bethany, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I felt frustrated by my lack of clarity, vision, and goals. Despite all her incredible reviews, I felt reluctant to hire Bethany because I didn't understand the coaching process. However, I gave it a go, and as I thought through each of her guiding questions, my mind started to see the patterns and make the connections. Almost overnight, I felt a shift from a fixed to a growth mindset, and I ended the program with a whole new perspective on how to live my life and be happy. Through the tools and methods I acquired by learning alongside Bethany, my confidence is back. I know what I want, and I feel proactive in my quest to make it happen!”

Option B, right? Even if you’re not the target audience, you get a better sense of the transformation experienced by this person through the story versus a review. Perhaps you even feel inspired to take action, “I want Bethany as my life coach!”

Good customer stories need to be:

  • Authentic
  • Clear
  • Emotional

To get started, you could ask your client to follow a proven storytelling structure, such as the Pixar storytelling framework (which inspired Option B, above.) Or, here's a list of guiding questions I constructed that you could ask to help your user hone in on their experience and effectively tell their story.

  • What was the problem you experienced before using our service/product?
  • Why did you hesitate to work with us?
  • Why did you choose to work with us?
  • How did you feel before our work together?
  • How did you feel after our work together?
  • How has our work together changed you for the better?
  • At what point did you think, "aha! I made the right choice!"

Then, using the answers, construct a narrative in a conversational tone— avoid any jargon or business speak. Keep it human.  

(Note: if you do write the story for your client, you must send it over to them for approval And do give them an option to edit as they see fit. Then send over a link to the final product—who doesn’t enjoy seeing their story on the Internet? 😉)

And finally, get visual. We are drawn to faces, especially the eyes. Ask for a photo of them interacting with your product in its typical environment. Or visual evidence of them demonstrating the transformation they experienced after using your service (think before and after picture) to connect a potential client to your brand. But a simple portrait of their smiling face will do because the presence of people will increase a sense of trust.

Your mission

Before you begin, ask yourself, “what does customer success look like to me and how can I better integrate evidence of this within my potential customers' online experience?"

Your customer’s story should outline how your product/service helped them experience a transformation. Humanize their words with a visual of your storyteller.

Can you think of some other ways that you can increase social endorsement throughout your online experience?

Kirsten

Save time and money by creating a compelling brand optimization content strategy in alignment with your business goals and your user's needs. The Evokery is here to help you get your story out of your head and into their hearts. Curious? Then let's chat!

We Humans Are Hardwired for Stories AND Video!

I feel a bit grumpy when I see an article listing “story” as a top marketing “trend” of 2017. The word, "trend" implies a trajectory to the next best thing, here today but gone tomorrow. The truth is that story is here to stay. So let's change those headlines to read, “the most sustainable brand marketing technique of 2017?”

Yeah, that’s much better.

Your Story is Here to Stay

In Dr. Susan Weinschenk’s book, 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (a fabulous read, btw) she lists the top people attention getters:

  • Pictures of human faces (especially if they’re making eye contact)
  • Pictures of food, sex, and danger
  • Loud noises (der)
  • Anything that moves
  • Stories

I bolded those last two items because they’re the most applicable here.

Dr. Weinschenk (also known as, The Brain Lady) explains that we humans were designed with not one, but three brains— a new brain, a midbrain, and an old brain. Our old brain is the stuff concerned with our survival, and we use it regularly in our environments to determine (and I love how Dr. Weinschenk puts it) Can I eat it? Can I have sex with it? Will it Kill Me? What this means is that we are programmed to scan our environment for movement or potential predators. We latch on to stories as a means of remembering and organizing information critical to our survival. Dare I say that storytelling is crucial for our evolution? Fascinating stuff!

How To Become an Effective Storyteller

From Visually.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

Perhaps you are wondering, "but how does one effectively tell a story on video?" Well, there are many, many ways and I look forward to writing about my process in future postings.  Above is an Infographic that I found—a short “how-to” that focuses in on the components of telling a great story online through video.

Are there any elements that you can sprinkle into your video storytelling process today to trigger the old brain in your audience?

Kirsten, web content strategist and designer

Save time and money by creating a compelling brand optimization content strategy in alignment with your business goals and your user's needs. The Evokery is here to help you get your story out of your head and into their hearts. Curious? Then let's chat!

3 Quick Tips for Writing Scripts for Screen Demonstrations

Thinking of creating a software demonstration through a program like Camtasia? Or perhaps you’ll be discussing your product on a webinar. The secret to creating a truly engaging demonstration video is all in the planning. Taking the time to sit down and write a script for your screen presentation works to your advantage because:

  • it keeps your video short and to the point;

  • It’s an effective way to brainstorm visual content; and

  • a script helps you save time captioning your video later down the road.

The Evokery

Here are my three tips to writing an effective script for a product demonstration.

Tip #1: Determine the why.

Why are you creating this video? What is it that you want your viewer to learn?

Break down each video by learning outcomes. Start with a clear objective or a SMART goal. Follow my favorite formula:

The viewer will be able to do what, with what, and how well?

For example: using Adobe Audition, you will be able to add markers for easy visual syncing in Adobe AfterEffects.

Use your objective as your script’s blueprint.

Tip #2: Break it down!

Follow your learning objective and break it down into actionable steps. Whatever the learner needs to know, write it down!

Tip #3: Read it out loud and proud.

Whether you'll be the voice talent or not, it doesn’t matter. Before hitting record, take the time to read your script out loud. You’d be surprised at how seemingly well-written sentences sound awkward when spoken (see what I did there?)

Don’t bore your audience by talking off the cuff. Keep your demonstration short, and to the point to ensure a fully engaged audience, especially if you'll be hosting this presentation on social media. And don’t forget your call to action!

Kirsten, web content strategist and designer