Driving Engagement With Real Stories About Real People

Barbara Spagnola - Thursday, October 19, 2017

“The Rocketeer” (1991) gave us the quote “Acting is acting like you're not acting.” If that’s true, then marketing is marketing like you’re not marketing. At least, that applies to blogs and social media. While superhero stories are great, the real heroes are the people who take your company’s goods and services and use them to transform their lives.

These people are some of the best marketing partners you could ever have; they are real-life success stories, and your business is a part of that tale. Leaving the sales lingo behind and inspiring readers is one key to creating an enchanting business blog that leaves customers wanting more.

Beyond the Testimonial

Testimonials are often bland affairs with little useful information for readers. Superlatives and empty praise sounds great on paper, but savvy readers tend to skim over these unless they contain real details and interesting stories. To make the most out of testimonials, take the reins and tell the story of your client. A few key quotes about the experience from the customer are much more valuable when placed in context alongside the trials faced and challenges overcome with a bit of help from your company’s goods and services.

Student-loan startup Earnest regularly features full-length articles on the stories of entrepreneurs and business leaders who overcame debt to rise to success. While rarely tearjerkers, these stories contain all the important elements to engage readers and show them how the company’s offerings can help without using any marketing language. This type of story, focusing on people rather than products, resonates with readers and has the ability to reach viral status as people share the information with hopes of creating their own tales of success.

Showcasing Success

Customers love a success story, whether it comes from companies they’re already engaged with or those that they’re currently considering. Reading about the successes of others reinforces the belief that an organization is a good choice and can inspire investment or business opportunities. Intuit, the global leader behind Quickbooks, advises that finding your customers’ power stories and showcasing how your company changed their lives lies at the heart of this process.


The elements of such power stories include:

     A description of the subject’s situation before the company’s offering was introduced.

     How the subject of the story came to be a customer of the business.

     A direct quote from the customer about the experience of working with the company.

     How the customer attained success with the assistance of the product or service.

     A second quote that serves as an endorsement of the product and inspires others.


Additional quotes and details are always useful, but these elements provide the basic building blocks of a great customer-driven story for your blog or social-media outlet. Remember to include photos of the customers as well as their businesses to further enhance the integrity of the piece and build reader confidence.

Creating Shareable Experiences

Getting these stories may seem daunting for new companies or those that have few direct customer contacts. Organizations just starting out should begin the outreach to customers or potential clients as soon as possible, letting them know that the company is interested in their stories as well as the situations behind why these customers chose that particular business.

There are some pitfalls to this practice. Customers don’t want to feel manipulated or that they’re being used as a tool for marketing. Empathy goes a long way as how you say things matters more than what you say. Explaining how these stories can inspire others to success and transform their lives in similar fashions is often all it takes to get a customer on board. Successful clients may also view such tales as direct marketing for their brands.

Customers who have not yet attained their goals should still be viewed as success stories in the making. The inevitable challenges and hurdles that come along the way can make reaching the ultimate goal all that much sweeter. Savvy business owners understand driving marketing with customer service and how word-of-mouth advertising and customer experiences are paramount to success. Taking the time to showcase the people who use the products in more than a few quick snippets builds confidence and rapport with readers, leading to increased engagement and creating more than a few opportunities down the line.

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