Most enterprises understand the value of effective corporate and product brochures and a compelling website, but many enterprises underestimate the value of success stories—also known as case studies.

"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example," Mark Twain once quipped. In a business context, managers and technical professionals alike respond to the power of example, which is the essence of a business success story.

Today, business customers are demanding; they require that vendors deliver success stories tailored to the customer's particular industry. To justify their investment in the solution, they need real-world proof that your company's solution has been successfully implemented at another company.

Accordingly, enterprises face a critical challenge: They must produce case studies in each of their core target verticals.

Success Story Value: Seven Points to Consider

The following are the top reasons that success stories are such a crucial part of the marketing process, especially when complex business issues and solutions are involved:

  1. Examples aid understanding. Complex business issues and solutions can be better understood through examples. Most people have struggled with a difficult concept, only to grasp it when someone explains it by saying "for example..."
  2. Success stories generate empathy. Properly written success stories enable the reader to empathize with the problem or challenge that the customer in the success story faced—in many cases, because they face a similar problem.
  3. Success stories are credible. Marketing success stories seem more credible to readers than marketing brochures—because success stories relate a factual situation rather than marketing claims.
  4. Success stories tell a tale. People love a story. The success story writer weaves a tale that can help readers take the first step toward solving a complex, and potentially expensive, business challenge.
  5. Success stories address a specific audience. Your potential customers want to feel that their specific needs are being addressed. If the customer is in the healthcare industry and the success story describes an application at a telecom, it's hard for the customer to identify with the story. That's why most enterprises that adopt success stories as a key marketing vehicle tailor at least one success story to each main audience they target.
  6. Success stories can demonstrate ROI. In some success stories, the benefits of the solution can be quantified. A return on investment that can be documented can help form a compelling case for the adoption of the solution.
  7. Success stories promote client satisfaction. As a form of closure to a successful client project, success stories can increase client satisfaction. Some enterprises provide a PDF file, printed copies, or even a framed hard copy of the final success story to their clients as a form of thanks. A framed copy that hangs on the wall of the customer's office is a symbol of the successful relationship between the customer and the solution provider.

For many enterprises, expanding the role of success stories in their marketing and sales strategy can provide the missing piece to the puzzle. Effective success stories can be posted on the website, handed out at conferences, packaged and tailored to particular audiences for client meetings, and sent in direct mail packages.

In highly competitive businesses, success stories can provide the competitive advantage that enterprises need.

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image of Steve Hoffman

Steve Hoffman is CEO and founder of Hoffman Marketing Communications.

LinkedIn: Steve Hoffman