Customer Evidence, Marketing Musings
Recently, I ran across something outside of work that reminded me of a lesson I know in my work life: genuine storytelling often gets the message across best.
In my non-work life, I’m lucky enough to be on the board of the Bellevue Boys & Girls Club, which does fantastic work in my neighborhood and beyond. This year, we’re working on a new program called Be Great Graduate!, which aims to find students who are likely to drop out of school and give them the support and motivation they need to graduate from high school. Of course, it’s easy to explain—but hard to actually carry out. As we got started on the program this year, we found out that we were going to need a lot of help to succeed. We’d need to earn the trust of teachers, kids, parents, community members, and donors—all of whom have different priorities, worries, and doubts.
So, for the first year, we worked with just a few kids. As they’re winding up the school year—successfully!—we are more committed than ever to making this program work for other kids. Next year, though, we’ll have an advantage: the stories and voices of this year’s students, parents, and teachers. It’s much easier to earn trust with their stories, because they are wonderful people with genuine voices; their experience means more than our intentions.
What does this have to do with marketing? Well, projects and programs—implementing new technology or trying new ways of doing things—also require a lot of trust and buy-in. In the flurry to convince people we’re right, it can be easy to focus too much on intentions when they really need to hear about experiences. A few sentences from a kid’s mouth can mean more than all our fancy plans. A quick reference or a short success story from someone who’s tried the technology already can mean more than all the features/benefits lists you’ve got.
But it’s important that we take the right lesson from this: the story has to be genuine. The storyteller’s personality has to come through. Sometimes it’s more important to have a powerful story than a powerful job title (the kids might not be President of anything, but our partners would often rather hear from them than from the Principal). Maybe the PC Support guy (or gal) is the right person to explain the new help desk tracker, instead of his (or her) boss’s boss—or maybe they can both help tell it. The story can be simple. In fact, it’ll probably get across better that way.
We’re facing a tough challenge with the Boys and Girls Club—but we know we’re better off armed with good stories.
And, of course, if you need some help telling a great story, we work on Customer Evidence and Customer Reference Programs that do just that. Rather hear it from someone else? See what our customers have to say.