In this episode, Sam Shepler, a filmmaker turned entrepreneur with 9 years of experience in B2B video marketing and the CEO of Testimonial Hero shares proven ways to create a successful customer-driven marketing strategy.
- What is a customer-driven marketing strategy?
- Customer-driven marketing strategy vs customer-led marketing strategy – same or different?
- 1. Analyze your target market and create detailed buyer personas
- 2. Know your existing customers better than you know yourself
- 3. Know What They Want (Base your product development strategy on customer feedback)
- 4. Create solutions for customers’ needs and deliver value
- How to best reveal customer satisfaction and customer loyalty in your video testimonials
- How to ensure the way customers speak about their positive customer experience will resonate with your audience
- What a sales funnel would look like using customer provided quality content
- 5. Use feedback to improve your offering
- 6. Make word-of-mouth your main marketing force
- 7. How to curate a positive customer experience to attract others
- 8. How to develop content for each step of the customer journey
- 9. The best ways to track the effectiveness of your customer-centric marketing strategy
- The missed opportunity for a customer-centric company that wants to invest in data-driven marketing
- Other uses of video customer testimonials that can further dialogue with a potential customer
- The opportunity for revenue leaders to develop a holistic customer-driven marketing strategy
- Listen to the episode
- Some topics we discussed include:
- Related links and resources
- Connect with Sam
What is a customer-driven marketing strategy?
A customer-driven marketing strategy is one that focuses on building customer loyalty by adressing their needs in every aspect of their buying journey. It’s a strategy that focuses on targeting a specific set of customers, retain them by meeting their needs and using metrics to measure their satisfaction.
0:02:20.9 Sam Shepler: Yeah, so I think it’s my belief that the best way to communicate value in B2B sales and marketing is through the voice of customers. So there’s nothing that is as credible as when you can communicate a message through a customer. And I think there’s a kinda common and a bit outdated, kind of a feeling that, “Oh, like customer case studies and video testimonials and social proof are really techniques that we as marketers use at the bottom of the funnel to ultimately close a deal.”
When that’s just a small part of the value and ultimately the more you can include, the more you can communicate through the voice of customers throughout the whole buyer journey, the better and your message will be received and the faster that buyer journey will be. Because ultimately that’s what we all want as B2B revenue leaders, is to close deals faster and it’s my view that any message that comes from you, that’s okay. But any message that comes from a customer, that’s better.
So it’s like the real question is how can we think beyond just the basics, which is a 90-second video testimonial, to think about micro-content and having customers actually answer frequently asked questions and just, all of these different forms of video content and then just pepper them throughout the whole buyer journey and help ultimately reduce friction and have those deals closed faster.
Customer-driven marketing strategy vs customer-led marketing strategy – same or different?
Sam Shepler: Yeah, I think the two are the same. It’s mostly semantics. And I think we’re playing around with different terms. We’re always thinking about, of course, how to build the right category and all that, just like all marketers are. But I think the main thing is coming back to customer-driven marketing or customer-led marketing.
At the moment, I like customer-led marketing, ’cause it speaks to, you lead with your messaging with your customers and you make your customers really an active participant in telling that story. So that to me is why I like customer-led ’cause it just implies customers are leading the way in really communicating on your behalf.
1. Analyze your target market and create detailed buyer personas
Is your marketing strategy based on what you have to sell or on the market needs that you can best meet?
If there is one thread that runs through my content and the interviews I have conducted, it is that successful marketing requires a constant focus on the customer. And the most common mistake that companies make is focusing solely on what you have to offer.
You can’t serve your customers if you don’t know who they are, so the first and most important step in developing your marketing strategy is to define and segment your market so you can target each group more effectively.
if you take the customer-centric route, your marketing strategy begins long before your product is created.
You must have as much information about your customers as possible. This will enable you to segment and target your marketing efforts. Whether it’s an email marketing campaign or a PPC ad, the success of both is determined by how precisely you can segment your customers into relevant groups and give them exactly what they want.
Depending on your brand and business, you may choose to target a single small market segment or several segments with varying needs and characteristics. You may already have a good idea of who your customer base is, but don’t make any assumptions. In order to build a true picture of the demographics and needs of each market, it is critical to conduct thorough market research from a variety of sources, including web and social analytics, competitor research, your own customer databases, and customer surveys.
Once you have the data, the next step is to create a customer avatar or buyer persona for each target market. This is a text and visual summary of the average “ideal” customer in each market segment that you’re targeting. This can greatly assist you in creating marketing materials that resonate with your target audience because you have a clear picture of who you’re attempting to reach with your marketing messages.
So, how do you go about approaching your buyer personas?
- Investigate your current customers. Make a few surveys and interviews, and collect their personal information.
- Investigate your competitors. For example, you can simply read their case studies to learn who is using their products and what goals they are attempting to achieve with them.
2. Know your existing customers better than you know yourself
The modern era of customer-centric marketing and social media networking has given rise to a new world of consumer data and insight, as well as new ways to reach out to people through marketing and outreach.
While there are still arguments on how much data is too much, or how much you need to know about your audience, as more companies use data to better personalise and target their marketing campaigns, they ultimately raise the bar for all others. If you don’t keep up, you’ll find yourself falling behind.
The data trend is illustrated in this infographic from Semarchy, which highlights some of the main benefits of using customer data to improve your marketing efforts.
The best ways to identify the ideal customer that can convey their customer experience in a way that resonates on an emotional level
I asked Sam what he thought are the best ways to identify the ideal customer that can really speak to your product or service and their customer experience without being too hype-y or sales-y but certainly provide value in the message that they’re delivering?
0:05:36.1 Sam Shepler: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think even stepping back further… I guess the question is it depends on the different verticals that you sell to, and ideally you… The best thing to do is have customer stories for every single buyer persona that you sell to. So if you’re selling to higher ed, you want a higher ed video, higher ed customer video content. If you’re… And then if you also sell to manufacturing, you’re gonna want that manufacturing content as well, that manufacturing video testimonial. But the manufacturing video testimonial doesn’t work so well with selling to the higher education space. So I think the step… Before you even identify which customers… What we always work with our clients to do is figure out what your main verticals are and also what your strategy is and are you trying to break into new markets? And if so, what…
0:06:36.8 Sam Shepler: Which customer stories do you need to support those initiatives. Once you sort of have a good high-level feeling around that, I think it’s extremely helpful to, especially if you’re on the marketing side, involve your sales team in that conversation, involve the… Especially involve the customer success team as well, ’cause often as marketers, we don’t actually know who the best… It depends on the tools you use and what you’ve set up, but many times, sales or customer success typically has the best feeling for who the happiest customers are, who the customers are that have had the most success. So that is my biggest piece of advice, is make sure and partner with sales, partner with success, and that is… Really, you need that cross-functional approach to identify the best stories.
Vinay Koshy: I would assume that in identifying the best stories, you also want to know a fair bit about the customer and their journey, their experience with your product and service, which would entail, at least in my mind, an ongoing investment in the customer, and certainly their interest as well. Given how busy we all are with all that we need to do for our own businesses, how would you recommend we prioritize and invest that amount of time and energy into our best customers?
Sam Shepler: Yeah, I think in terms of… I always think of what customers do you want to attract more of, so in the shortest answer I would say figure out who that customer is that fits your ideal customer profile, and then try and get a video testimonial from them, and that’s just going to attract more like customers because it’s so… For video testimonials to really work, it’s all about a customer, a prospect seeing themselves in the story that’s being told, right? So it’s like we want to show a prospect who’s watching that and say, “Wow, okay, I have that exact same problem. The product X or consultant X or agency X solved this… I have that exact same problem and then the problem was solved, and like, okay, I’m gonna go talk to that company.” So that is I think super key.
For video testimonials to really work, it’s all about, a prospect seeing themselves in the story that’s being told
3. Know What They Want (Base your product development strategy on customer feedback)
“The purpose of marketing is to know the consumer so well that the product or service suits him and sells itself.”Peter Drucker
The challenge however is that we live in a time when the most valuable resource is our target audience’s time and energy.
According to Thomas Davenport and J.C. Beck, attention economics is described as follows:
“As content has grown increasingly abundant and immediately available, attention becomes the limiting factor in the consumption of information.”Thomas Davenport and J.C. Beck
Nielsen says consumers are exposed to over 2,000 marketing messages a day. The fight for consumer interest has shifted from a message, medium, or technology battle to one of customer insights.
So how do you meet your customers? You might not be able to talk to all of them. However, there are a few ways to use analysis and a customer-first approach to drive a successful customer-driven marketing strategy.
Step 1: Speak to your Customers
The easiest way to learn about your target customers is to ask them. Or, at the very least, ask a sample of them. Choose any of your best customers, your most well-known customers, or simply those who are most willing to provide you with input.
This is also a very cost-effective and reliable way to create content on a tight budget:
- Inquire about all of the difficulties they encountered that drove them to discover a solution.
- Inquire as to how they discovered you.
- In what stage of the purchase process, ask them what material they searched for and where they found it.
- Inquire as to why they choose you.
These responses can be used to create testimonials, blog posts, webcasts, whitepapers, and other marketing material for each point of the buying journey. Then look for ways to place the content in all of the channels they told you about when they went looking.
Step 2: Conduct formal research
In most organizations formal research and analysis is not a priority or is woefully underfunded.
Formal customer insight research, should aim to understand the main problems and issues confronting your target customers. It should describe all of the obstacles they face, as well as the relative importance of each. It should also define the relative importance of the platforms by which they seek information and the content types they seek at each point of the buyer journey.
Step 3: Conduct keyword research
At some point during the purchasing process, everybody uses a search engine. Understanding the keywords they use is not just a smart idea for customer-based marketing; it is a basic requirement of the company to recognise the keywords your customers use while searching for knowledge.
Keyword research helps you to get into the customers’ heads and discover what they are thinking at the precise moment when they have a content need. So, my recommendation is that any company develop a search-driven marketing approach to help build out long-term relationships.
4. Create solutions for customers’ needs and deliver value
A customer-driven marketing strategy is pointless if you cannot create solutions that your customer’s value and need. Your preliminary customer research should inform you of what your customers truly desire. You can then use this market intelligence to create products and services that meet their requirements. This approach, of course, is diametrically opposed to what many businesses do, which is to decide on their products and services first and then seek customers to buy them!
Advertising and traditional marketing methods are no longer required with a customer-first strategy because you don’t have to go out and find your customers – they’re already right there telling you what you want. The hard work is done if you truly listen to what they have to say.
According to Forrester Research’s report titled “Build Your Content Brand by Delivering Customer Value.” In order to gain insights into the importance of content marketing and the top strategies for how brands can become more effective with it, Forrester conducted in-depth interviews with marketers, agencies, and publishers.
Ryan Skinner, the report’s author, claims that
Content brands are built by becoming trustworthy sources of valuable content that consumers actively seek out, engage with, and eventually advocate for. Unfortunately, marketers frequently lack the resources, talent, commitment, and patience necessary to invest in and see results from content marketing initiatives.
One of the report’s main conclusions is that most content marketing efforts fail to meet key objectives because of the “campaign” mindset that still pervades the marketing function. The continuous delivery of customer value through interesting and engaging content is at the heart of effective content marketing.
According to Forrester, there are four key objectives for effective content marketing:
- Customers are drawn closer to the brand by giving away valuable content, which increases the reach of content and encourages customers to freely and widely share it across their social networks.
- Reaching out to customers early in the purchasing process
- Integrate analytics and CRM to connect content marketing efforts to the demand funnel.
Forester identifies the following as the most common content marketing mistakes:
- Customers receive insufficient value from the content.
- Branded content suffers from a lack of a solid distribution strategy that allows it to reach customers.
- Inadequate investment in developing a brand publishing capability
- The ability to wait for results that do not appear immediately
- Inability to connect content marketing efforts to business outcomes
Forrester recommends that marketers transition from “random acts of content marketing to a true content brand.” This can be accomplished by:
- Creating content that customers will value
- Developing audiences as a key asset
- Data from the audience is being used to inform future interactions.
- Improving business outcomes by optimizing over time
This only serves to underscore the importance of a customer-driven marketing strategy which can in large part be fueled by video customer testimonials.
I put a few questions to Sam around to explore this further.
How to best reveal customer satisfaction and customer loyalty in your video testimonials
Vinay Koshy: In knowing your customers and certainly eliciting that story or message, would you recommend that it should take more of the format of a story, or is it, “What was your experience with using X, Y, Z products?” I guess what I’m asking is what should be the nature of the message and what is it that we’re really aiming for in making that ask of a customer?
0:09:33.4 Sam Shepler: Right, yeah, so for a… I think there’s different types of customer video content, and for a testimonial, ’cause I think at the highest level, there’s customer video content, and then there’s testimonials, there’s maybe objection crushers, there’s advertisements, and then there’s other different use cases.
But for a testimonial, the simplest story, and that’s a great question, it’s a before and after story. So you want to establish the… ’cause no one… Prospects don’t actually, this is a really, really key point, most prospects are in denial that they have a problem. As sellers, our prospects are in denial that they even have a problem to begin with. No glowing endorsement is going to matter to them until we get them to have… Admit they have a problem.
0:10:29.5 Sam Shepler: So that’s why with a testimonial, the before part of it is talking about the problem and the challenges, and then the after is how it was solved and the results, and so, yeah, it’s very critical to establish the before, otherwise no one’s gonna care, because if I don’t believe that I have that problem as a buyer, I’m not gonna… There’s no fertile ground for the results to really impress me and have an impact when those results land.
How to ensure the way customers speak about their positive customer experience will resonate with your audience
Vinay Koshy: Okay, so pretty much a story format. How would we know that the story is going to really resonate with our customers? Because correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe most people have a natural storytelling gift, so to speak, so how will we go about ensuring that we’re able to craft and edit it, if you will, into something that is usable and will resonate with our intended audience?
0:11:29.7 Sam Shepler: Absolutely, it’s a great question. I think that’s honestly why a lot of customers have worked with us, ’cause we help figure that strategy out, we figure out the right questions to ask to get the right content, and then our video editing team edits it, but… So yeah, I think that’s one thing. Good questions get good answers, as from the podcast, right? The better question you ask, the better answer you get or the more interesting answer you get, right?
So that’s step one is thinking about what are the… And you only have… You have a limited amount of time with the customer, and you don’t really often get a chance to retake it ’cause your customer’s doing you a favor, so you wanna make the most of it, so step one, and this is part of our process, is beginning with the end in mind.
First you have to figure out what the perfect testimonial video sounds like.
- What are the two or three absolute key messages that a prospect who’s watching this should take away after viewing it.
- What do the perfect quotes sound like?
And then once we have that vision of the end, and we do this, but anyone can do this and it’s just what I recommend. So figure out what you want at the end, and then write the questions that will elicit those responses, those building blocks to the story, and then of course, the more artful you can edit it, that’s really when you can condense it, ’cause the…
0:13:05.7 Sam Shepler: When I speak about editing, we don’t want to change the story, but we do want to condense it, that is the most important role editing plays. ‘Cause B2B buyers, there’s a lot of noise, we need to get them, they need to get it quickly, so it’s like that’s the real big thing of… Is editing it, taking that 20-minute interview and taking that whole story into the perfect 90 seconds.
0:13:30.9 Vinay Koshy: Oh, okay. It’s really quite short. But if I am to understand this correctly, you’re asking questions of the customer that would elicit the story, but how do you ensure that they’re actually being able to deliver value or highlight value in their experience, or certainly talk about outcomes that they have achieved? Quite often, at least in my experience, it tends to get a little blurry because your product or service might be one of a few that they would be employing to achieve a particular outcome and to separate things can be a bit of a difficult process or a challenge at least mentally, especially in a short time frame, if they haven’t been given much time to think about it.
0:14:19.5 Sam Shepler: Absolutely, yeah. It’s a great question. And I think part of… There’s a couple of angles, part of it is syncing up with them, the customer in advance, and finding some common ground around what you wanna emphasize and doing a 30-minute call, just talking through the interview questions before conducting the actual interview and saying, here’s… This is basically, we often ask like, do all these questions look good? And here’s what we were thinking with this question, does that align with what you’re feeling as well.
0:14:54.8 Sam Shepler: The other thing is like many times, you might not be able to tie, especially with services or agencies or consulting, if it’s with the SaaS products, which are the majority of our customers, often, yeah, you can tie a metric to the outcome, but with B2B services, it might be harder.
I don’t think that in and of itself is a huge issue because there are other things that you can talk about in the testimonial like –
- What is your value proposition?
- What are your differentiators and how do you reinforce that with the testimonial?
So yeah, I think that ultimately, coming back to what we talked about in the beginning, the customer… The voice of the customer is just another medium for content, and all of your content should support and align with your key message, your strategic narrative.
So then the question is, how do we just get what the customer is saying to just even add further impact to that strategic narrative at the highest level.
Vinay Koshy: If I understand this correctly, the client that you’re working with should really be clear as to the USP, the unique selling points, which you are then looking to reinforce via your testimonial, would that be correct?
0:16:17.1 Sam Shepler: That’s absolutely correct. Although the nice thing is, even if they’re not, they’re gonna get a great testimonial anyways, and ’cause… And sometimes people think that they’re… Depending on the maturity of the business, especially with a start-up, a start-up might think, Oh, this is our USP, and then they ask their customer, and they get a great testimonial, but it’s actually a little bit different, and there’s huge value.
Many times we’ve had our customers tell us, wow, thanks to doing this testimonial, I actually learned so much about how our customers view our product, and it evolved our positioning. So, yeah, in a perfect world, especially for a mature company, absolutely. But I think it’s certainly not a requirement and there’s a lot of kind of just fortuitous… As long as you have a happy customer, you’re gonna get a great testimonial, you might even learn something new that you didn’t even realize in the process.
How to use customer perceptions and feedback to improve your offer
Vinay Koshy: How would you say… And I’m assuming you’ve gone through this process yourself with Testimonial Hero, how would you say you’ve been able to utilize that feedback to improve your approach to marketing the product experience for customers?
0:17:30.4 Sam Shepler: Definitely, yeah. I think for one, it’s, you’re able to draw just conclusions and just understand what are the commonalities that customers really value. For us, we realized that something that just kept coming up, again and again, was the ease of use and just how easy it was, and people were surprised how easy it was to do something that can be… There’s a lot of pieces to it, producing a customer video, there’s a lot of pieces, but we had and we have a really easy process. And then once people… We realized that that’s what people appreciated, we just kind of started pushing that even more in terms of our messaging. So, yeah, I think it’s just… It’s a great opportunity to just get that customer research that you ultimately also can turn into that super, super valuable sales and marketing content.
How best to act on customer feedback to further your customer-centric approach
Vinay Koshy: Okay. So are you saying that you take that feedback and kind of list it, and when you see the similar sort of requests coming through time and again, then you go, “Right? This may be something that we need to offer.” Or is it pretty much done on a gut feel?
0:18:44.6 Sam Shepler: Yeah, I think… It’s interesting, it depends how much time you have with the customer, ’cause like… I’m not advocating that someone turn their customer research into… Completely into testimonials, ’cause I think the customer research is… The questions are even a little bit different, but I think it’s more like fortuitous, there will be… I think customer research isn’t the main goal of customer video content. I think the main goal of customer video content is to drive revenue. But for sure, I’ve seen it time and time again there are just fortuitous learnings, I would add to that.
How to make the ask to capture the relevant content for customer testimonials
Vinay Koshy: I know you work a lot with the clients to get their clients on to video testimonials. I’m assuming though that not all of your client’s clients are very willing, at least initially, to give up their time and energy to someone that they don’t know is essentially a third party who wants to grab some sort of testimonial or a conversation. How do you approach this? I’m assuming that your client would give you a bit of a warm intro, but what’s your experience been like with that, is that enough or have you really had to spend time crafting your outreach in order to find success?
0:20:03.7 Sam Shepler: Yeah, it’s a great question. For us, so we always… Typically how it works is we help our customers behind the scenes to make that ask. So they actually make the ask. We recommend it comes from the person that the testifying customer has the best relationship with, right.
So typically, often it’s from their account manager or the person who sold the deal, and ’cause of that, that’s also pretty common. And then once the customer… And then the key things for getting a yes, ’cause you’re right, it’s… There’s a couple of things in terms of how do you actually get people to agree.
For one, just at the highest level, it’s good to ask, “How can I make this a two-way exchange of value?” So it’s not just my customer doing me a favor, they actually get some value out of it. One of the ways is just honestly, the best testimonials also make the customer that’s being featured the hero of the story. And even to an extent, they make that individual that’s talking the hero of the story.
So it’s really great industry recognition and pure recognition opportunities, and we often suggest our customers reach out to people and say – “Hey, you’re doing an awesome job. We wanna hold you up as an example of best practices in your industry, and you’re absolutely crushing it in this area, like let’s capture the story.”
0:21:32.1 Sam Shepler: And it’s good to… And also effective to make it about them, it’s not… Ultimately, they are the hero of the story, and people are generally, of course, way more receptive to that. Another key thing is when you reach out, you wanna answer any of their immediate questions, it’s like, “How long will this take and will I get a chance to review it prior?”
We usually say like, “Would you be open to sharing your experiences? It’ll only take 30 minutes, and that’s what it takes if it’s a remote testimonial and you’ll get to review everything else prior, if you’re open to that, I can share some more information.” So that sort of addresses a lot of the potential objections that someone might have, and most people have 30 minutes that they could slot in at least in a couple of weeks. And yes, so once the customer has actually gotten the agreement, that’s when they introduce us.
So we’re not really convincing them as a third party. Then they say, Great. They say, Okay, awesome, this is our partner, our video testimonial partner, testimonial hero, and they are gonna make this seamless for you, and then our customers stay CC’d, but that’s when we basically take it from there.
How to determine the best way to proceed with content creation
Vinay Koshy: Okay, so I’m assuming a lot of this conversation would be happening either via phone or email before you come onto the scene, so to speak, and it starts with a discovery or a pre-interview chat before the actual recording. Would that be the process?
0:23:02.4 Sam Shepler: Yeah, I think it depends, and honestly, I’m so removed from the nitty-gritty of the process these days. My team is always improving and evolving the process, but… Yeah, I think it depends. We’ve certainly done it both ways, and it kinda depends on mostly it’s, some customers are more transactional, like smaller software subscribers, there might not need to be a pre-call. Huge enterprise customers that it’s a very close relationship and there’s an account manager, yeah, they might wanna do a call. So it’s so much situational depending on that sort of dynamic.
Vinay Koshy: Would you say that in a sense, you in your role, curating the experiences of your client’s customers?
0:23:54.5 Sam Shepler: Yeah, I think… Well, actually, I guess… Yeah, potentially, I think if that means, if I take that to mean we are curating some of the success they’ve had, and then yes, I think obviously there’s positive experiences and there’s negative experiences that customers have with any product. And yeah, we certainly… I think that would be fair to say, we’re helping curate those experiences, I think to even… To specify it even further, I think we’re curating content from the voice of the customer that would be interesting and valuable to prospective buyers, ’cause ultimately people engage with us when they want to better communicate value in their further offering and then ultimately reduce friction in the sales process and close deals faster. So yeah, absolutely.
What a sales funnel would look like using customer provided quality content
Vinay Koshy: Could you give us an example of perhaps a client that’s used these videos in order to accelerate the sales cycle and examples of where they’ve used it?
0:25:04.0 Sam Shepler: Absolutely. So I think… So one example, I think for every time that we create a video, we don’t just create a one-size-fits-all, so we’ll usually create a standard 90-seconds to two-minute version, then we’ll create a 30 to 45 second version, and then we’ll create a 15-second version. So if even starting at the very top of the funnel, we have customers who have a ton of success using those 15-second versions to even just at the awareness stage to basically as ads to get people on their site. Then the 45-second version, that is a good length for driving a conversion on a landing page.
0:25:48.6 Sam Shepler: You’re still early on in the buyer’s journey, you probably don’t wanna watch a super long video, but 45 seconds is a good length. And then in terms of the 90 second to 120 second videos, ultimately, those can be used anywhere but we think that they go extremely… And we see them being used on customers’ pages, primarily, some home pages as well, but absolutely by individual sales reps to kind of keep deals moving, ’cause it’s… One of the most common things, and we obviously do this ourselves as well, is like if you need a… If a deal starts to slow down, you can either… There’s a lot of things you can do. And it’s not very effective to just send one of those, just checking in emails. And it doesn’t really add any value, right? And also doesn’t enhance credibility, right?
0:26:44.2 Sam Shepler: But what you can do instead is like… Can be like follow-up in the… “Hi, there, Mr. Or Mrs. Prospect, I wanted to share this example featuring Company X, just like you. Have a look about how they’re… And you… ” Ideally, it’s the same exact org title as you’re selling to. If you’re selling to a director of marketers, have a look at how their director of marketing… Marketer achieved X with us recently. It’s like share a new video case study with them, right? So yeah, and then… And that’s obviously, at the more… The one-on-one basis further down the funnel. So yeah, I think it’s, it all comes back to this idea that anything is more credible coming from a customer and micro… You can create micro content and slice and dice your longer interviews and use them at different lengths where people have different attention spans, in the whole buyer journey.
Vinay Koshy: How would you say that a client is able to measure the effectiveness of using video content, whether it be on a customer page, as you were putting it. Sorry, that may be a good question to ask, the customer page are you referring to a pricing page or a blog post, or what exactly do you mean by it?
0:28:00.3 Sam Shepler: Yeah, actually just more like customers’ page, I’m referring to actually our customers or sometimes it’s like company X/customers. And usually it’s the main page where a lot of their… And have a big logo rack, customer list, customer case study. So it’s kind of like the pillar page for all of their social proof basically.
5. Use feedback to improve your offering
Tools like live chat and online feedback boards can be a great way to connect with your customers.
Using customer reviews and requests will not only help you develop better products and services in the future, but it will also demonstrate to your customers that you are listening to their opinions and that they matter. This is a powerful way to build confidence and loyalty.
Since customer communication is such an important aspect of a customer relationship management and customer-driven marketing campaign, the customer service team becomes an integral part of your overall marketing strategy. Ensuring that anyone in the business who deals with customers in some way has an outstanding customer experience benefits both parties. The customer receives the assistance they need and experiences productive interactions with your team, while your company improves its brand image and learns how to make better goods while improving customer retention.
When your customers are pleased with what they buy from you and how they interact with you, they will tell their mates. And word-of-mouth marketing can be more effective and have a larger and longer-lasting impact than any form of advertisement or SEO campaign.
6. Make word-of-mouth your main marketing force
Word-of-mouth consumers convert faster because they already have a degree of trust and faith in your company that they received from the individual who suggested your shop.
People who come through other means, on the other hand, may know little about your store and will need to be persuaded first. Their levels of ‘confidence’ are lower, and conversions are lower as a result.
Furthermore, if anyone has had a positive experience with your company and spreads the word, they are likely to share helpful hints (e.g., be sure to pick up your discount voucher, or log in to get a free gift, etc.) that make your offering more appealing to that person before they have even visited the web.
Customers who come through word of mouth have a degree of trust and belief that other sources do not have.
Before you do anything else to develop successful word-of-mouth marketing strategies, there is one thing you must insure:
That you are already providing an outstanding customer experience.
It is almost difficult to persuade people to refer their friends and family to your company if they had a bad experience. It’s challenging even with an average one.
You might also go the other way and build a storm of negative publicity.
People refer others because they want to share something they are passionate about. Not only that they could get a discount for doing so. And, with 65 percent of customers having severed relations with a brand due to a single negative experience, it is more critical than ever to establish that amazing customer experience.
7. How to curate a positive customer experience to attract others
After you’ve persuaded customers to participate, the next step is to publicize it. This does not imply that everybody should have their five minutes of fame. Make it exclusive and difficult to ensure that your customers share content that is not only high quality but also aligns with your brand’s vision and message.
Retailers may highlight customer experiences in a photo gallery on their website or spark a vote-off between entrants to exploit active users and get others to start sharing as well.
By curating and showcasing only the best content you’ve collected in one place, you’re tapping into several drivers of action — appreciation, accomplishment, and challenge — which is rewarding for those who are noticed and will inspire their peers to share.
8. How to develop content for each step of the customer journey
You can’t think of content as a set of one-off projects if it’s at the heart of your plan. Its development must be driven by a systematic strategy.
Since it is such a vital piece of the marketing puzzle these days, it must be used in all stages of the consumer journey. While many people divide this journey into three stages, Awareness, Consideration, and Content, I believe that it could be broken down into seven key stages to provide more granularity and understanding for a business. These stages are: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer.
These stages will take a person from their first experience with your company regardless of whether you have a customer-driven marketing strategy or not, to the point of purchase, where they will not only become a customer, but also a loyal fan and advocate for your company.
To keep a person engaged with your company as they pass through the consumer path, you must provide them with content that facilitates their needs and journey during the process, and the best way to do this is to align the content you want to create with the different phases we covered above.
Customer Journey Mapping
It’s important not to get ahead of yourself when it comes to the customer journey. I sometimes see businesses attempting to persuade prospects that they can fix their issues before they even realize they have them.
To map out your consumer experience, you must first consider who your audience is, including their desires, needs, and pain points, as well as the types of questions they would ask themselves before seeking a solution like yours.
You must understand the customer’s journey in order to create content for each stage of it.
9. The best ways to track the effectiveness of your customer-centric marketing strategy
Vinay Koshy: In terms of being able to track the effectiveness of or conversions with these pieces of content, how do you use it then… What would you recommend to clients?
0:28:38.4 Sam Shepler: Yeah, I think it’s one of those things where you can get as advanced and sophisticated as you’re willing to, right? And to be honest, I don’t think most people worry… Some people do, but a lot of people don’t really track it and they just kinda have an anecdotal feeling that they know it’s working because it’s helping… It’s influencing the pipeline and it’s helping deals close.
let’s just even pause for a second, the fact that any sales marketing content is being used effectively in the sales process is quite rare. I think 80% of content that is created by marketing goes unused by sales.
No one’s going to keep using things that aren’t working, so when I often ask our customers, I’m like, “Oh, how is the video… How are the customer videos working?”
A really common response is like, “They’re working great. Sales loves them, they’re using them to… They’re influencing deals. They helped us win this deal. And they want more of them.” But they don’t necessarily attribute exact dollar values to them. Could that be done? Absolutely. Like, there’s…
0:30:01.5 Sam Shepler: Especially, with new technology out there, you could implement lead scoring based on what percentage of the video that someone watched. And it’s really… It’s up to, do you have the resources? Do you have the bandwidth? Do you have the technical chops and the appetite to get really technical with your video hosting player, like a Vidyard or Wistia and integrate that with your marketing automation platform.
You know, I think as it stands now, I don’t think there’s a lot of doubt in… Like, there’s not… No one is skeptical in my experience about the value of video testimonials. So thankfully for us, it’s not that big of an issue. But yeah, I think in the future, as measurement just gets easier and easier, we will see more measurement naturally for sure.
The missed opportunity for a customer-centric company that wants to invest in data-driven marketing
0:30:51.8 Vinay Koshy: We’ve talked a fair bit about how to go about crafting a customer-led marketing strategy and process. What would you say from your experience, some of the mistakes though, that you’re seeing customers who are trying to attempt similar sorts of things make?
0:31:10.4 Sam Shepler: Yeah, I think it’s a great question. I think the biggest… And maybe it’s not a mistake, but I think it’s maybe a missed opportunity is thinking very tactically and then missing the big strategic opportunity. And what I mean by that is thinking that testimonials are… Video testimonials are just something that you use at the bottom of the funnel, where the opportunity, as I sort of mentioned earlier, as well is like customer content goes to the customer, from the very… All the way throughout the funnel just in different formats.
Vinay Koshy: And for listeners, I think they would know the effectiveness of video itself, and certainly in terms of engagement and the ability to convert. But thinking about this from a revenue or a sales perspective, I would imagine these could also be used on win-back campaigns to further retention and lifetime value. So I can see a lot of potential in these types of content. Where would you say though this would evolve to over time.
Sam Shepler: Yeah, no, I totally agree with that win-back campaigns and expansions and such. I think in terms of where I see customer video content evolving over time definitely more full-funnel, as opposed to just being that sort of like a bottom-of-the-funnel asset. And then also, I see it evolving. Well, as I think, generally speaking, you’re now used to be sales, sales teams, marketing teams, and they’re used to be VP of sales and VP of Marketing. And now we have like the chief revenue officer, who roll in this idea of revenue teams and revenue leaders thinking more holistically about customer success, sales and marketing… Yeah, I think I see it being, I see customer content and customer-led marketing being a more kind of cross-functional holistic strategy, especially for companies who think as a revenue team and not as just a siloed series of departments for sure.
How to tap into customer networks to further customer acquisition
Vinay Koshy: Would you say that this is also a way of facilitating the development of networks in that in capturing these customer stories or testimonials, you are essentially creating a piece of content that would allow you to tap into their respective networks? And thereby, draw more of a customer base to your product or service?
Sam Shepler: Yeah, I think, for sure, I think that’s definitely an angle of it. And I think maybe even for us, there is a bit of a network effect on our end because we will create, we will create the customer testimonial video, we come in contact with our customer’s customer in that process. So several times, many times we actually end up networking with our customer’s customer, and then they have such a good experience, they become our customer as well. So, I would say yeah, for certainly for us personally, there has absolutely been very significant, you know, positive network effects in our business.
Other uses of video customer testimonials that can further dialogue with a potential customer
Sam Shepler: There are two little ones I think are worth well. Oh, yeah, there’s a couple. I think, in terms of the main use cases, we really talked about, you know, video testimonials a lot, which I would define as like a before and after story typically. That’s the most common form of customer-led marketing and customer video content.
Another great use case is, I think, what is like anything for sales enablement, which is a good example, we call it as like, objection crusher video. So like, instead of being a, you know, comprehensive before and after story, with a nice story arc, it’s more of like, a video that you send, that’s specifically meant to crush a specific objection. And you use it at a very specific time and it’s typically manual, right?
So like, if someone’s like… If you have an objection and someone says, I don’t know, like the implementation process for using your new software. It just seems I can’t handle this right now. I’ve got too much on my plate, then you send that objection crusher video about how effortless and seamless the implementation process is, right.
0:36:06.7 Sam Shepler: So and that’s not a before and after story. It’s just an objection crusher, it’s just sales enablement. I think another thing worth noting is just using customers for actual kind of like content marketing, so like you could create while you’re creating your… While you’re doing your customer interviews, you could ask your customer a question like, How are you? What’s your biggest challenge right now in industry X? And do you have any tips for other CXOs on how to address that?
So like, and then you kind of can use that content and that’s great content marketing. It’s not an endorsement like a testimonial is. I mean it’s an implicit endorsement but it’s… It doesn’t mention your product. It’s just valuable and good insights so like making your customers actually a part of that. I think that again, customer-led marketing, that’s a perfect example of thinking beyond just the traditional endorsement testimonial.
The opportunity for revenue leaders to develop a holistic customer-driven marketing strategy
0:37:14.1 Sam Shepler: I think if I were listening to this episode, I would say my top takeaway is that there is an opportunity for the best revenue leaders to think about customer video content and customer-led marketing as more as a strategy, and much more broadly than just checking the box of social proof. Right? We all know that social proof is important. And it is, but the opportunity, even beyond social proof is actually leveraging customers to communicate on your behalf in very creative and effective ways. Way beyond the standard, check the box approach, and yeah, there are just so many opportunities to get creative with it. We’ve talked about so many of them. So yeah,
I guess if there’s one takeaway I’d want someone to have, it’s that well, first of all, start small. If you don’t have any video testimonials, start with that, right? Like that’s, that’s the first step. I mean, if all of your testimonials are written, you don’t have any video testimonials yet, or any customer video content at all starts with just a video testimonial.
Sam Shepler: But then eventually, you can make cuts of those testimonials that are objection crushers, you can make content marketing versions. So yeah, it’s sort of… It’s a spectrum and progression. And there’s a lot of opportunities to get more advanced. And the more you can involve customers, the voice of the customer in your marketing, the more credibility your messaging will have. And the more ultimately like the easier, it will be to make an impact and achieve your goals.
Listen to the episode
Some topics we discussed include:
- What is a customer-driven marketing strategy
- How to use feedback to improve your offering
- What is the best way to identify customers that really speak to your product or service
- How Sam recommends we prioritize and invest our limited time and energy into our best customers
- A customer-driven marketing strategy requires customer stories but what are the best ways to craft and edit them so they resonate with future customers
- How to get your customers to agree to appear on video
- How to make the best of it when they do—what questions to ask them
- The biggest mistakes made around customer-led video content
- Pre-requisites for creating powerful testimonials
- How best to track the effectiveness of the customer led-videos
- and much more …
Related links and resources
- Check out Testimonial Hero
- Get additional insights from Brian J Brown – How to Get Customer Testimonials That Boost Sales
- Listen to my interview with Rob Balasabas – How to Monetize Your YouTube Channel and Build a Community
- Check out my interview with Justin Brown – 10 Effective Ways on How to Gain Traction on YouTube
Connect with Sam
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