As social creatures, we’re influenced by the people around us, consciously and subconsciously. We make decisions based on the experiences of others, particularly as consumers, via sites like Trip Advisor and TrustPilot.
Think about it – a business could say anything about themselves. They could say they’re the ‘crème de la crème’ when, in practice, they’re more like dirty dishwater! A business isn’t going to highlight its bad points, but customers will. And that’s why a customer’s viewpoint is trusted.
The saying goes: What’s worse than being talked about? NOT being talked about!
It’s true. Engaging people and encouraging them to tell others about your business is important. Word of mouth is the most lucrative, effective way to attract clientele – above advertising, marketing…indeed, anything you can do.
Of course, feedback is far more effective if your clients are saying good things about your business. Nowadays, because social proof is so powerful, there aren’t many businesses still trading if they’ve not nailed customer service and all other aspects of their offering. That said, even negative feedback is useful, as it allows genuine businesses to see where there’s room for improvement. This can then be rectified before more customers become equally dissatisfied and vow never to return.
Yet feedback, endorsements, and customer reviews are often overlooked as a marketing tool.
So, what’s the difference between a case study and an endorsement? Do you know what a soundbite is, and how it could help your business?
Here’s a brief overview:
A soundbite is an extract from a speech, interview, review, or other types of broadcast. It’s often used in marketing literature and adverts, and shown as a quote, in speech marks.
Feedback is something you can ask for, or invite, at any point – even during a project – to reproduce in your marketing. Just be aware that it’s not guaranteed to be glowing…but we’ve already explained why negative feedback is just as useful to a business.
An endorsement/review tends to be short and sweet, and a reflection of your good service.
A case study is a longer piece that takes a little time and effort. To create one, as the name suggests, you need a ‘case’ and you need to do a ‘study’. Ask your customer structured questions, and aim to collect tangible evidence of your help and support; for example, any facts, figures, projections or cost savings the client achieved as a result. It’s a good idea to keep a case study alive; contact the customer and revisit the project after six months, or a year, to monitor and record further benefits. Case studies have more impact if they’re recorded as a video; seeing and hearing the customer’s story touches people on an emotional level far more than if they read about it in a brochure.
Here is an example of a digital case study we created.
The value of good feedback
Good feedback not only attracts clients who’ve never visited/used your service, it’s also good for staff motivation, and as a benchmark against your competitors. It can even help shape new products and services. For example Egg, the online bank, asked 30,000 customers for their thoughts on a new product they planned to launch. Rather than taking 12 months to come to fruition, it took just five weeks for the product to come to market. Adjustments and tweaks were made instantly, in line with customers’ responses and attitudes, and business processes.
The thing to remember with customer feedback is this: however much clients are blown away by your product or service, they’re not as invested in your business as you are. Which means, once they get back on terra-firma, and the kids are clamouring for their tea, or they’re frantically trying to tick items off their to-do list, good intentions can quickly dissipate.
It’s not that they won’t want to leave a testimonial, it’s just that they forget, or life gets in the way. A proactive business in 2017, therefore, needs to ASK for recommendations – to prompt their satisfied customers. To show other customers how good they actually are.
Luckily, the technology exists to help. Apps such as Feefo and Yotpo can help automate requests for feedback, and automatically ask consumers and clients to give their thoughts on their experience after purchase or application of your product/service.
To supplement customer feedback, it’s a good idea to create case studies on a regular basis. Featuring actual customer experiences, they demonstrate how you help. They show the customer journey, and how a problem can be solved, or how clients move from point A to point B.
Even though what you offer may be a common product/service, it’s sometimes hard for new clients to visualise or imagine how it will make an impact on their lives – a case study gives them some framework. They add authenticity to your work and can be as specific as you choose, as opposed to the copy on your website that has to be all-singing, all dancing.
Case studies can also be shared throughout your social media accounts, to help drive discussion and build social interaction. As you have seen above, when we produced a digital brochure; it contained a detailed case study (the one above), alongside statistical, tangible evidence of the benefits our client’s service brought their customers. Because the case study is digital, it could be used within a tender, in an email footer, QR code on a trade press release or an advert, and also, as part of a third party’s cost-planning exercise. All of which could have and have brought in sales of the product featured in the study.
They’re a tool to keep a conversation going and to open doors – things that are hard to do in our 24/7 world and saturated markets.
And for you…?
Case studies and recommendations aren’t just for companies. Even if it’s just you in your business, you really should adopt the same principle. LinkedIn, for instance, is a great platform for business owners and entrepreneurs to gather recommendation and endorsements, but how many of us actively do that, or ask for feedback via the site?
Think about your profile, and how others who don’t know you will see you. The endorsement section is effectively a demonstration of your skills. Don’t fill it with generic, broad duties (you only get 50 to play with) – ask people in your network, who can vouch for your skill in more niche areas, to endorse these specific capabilities.
Case studies, endorsements, and customer feedback should be important aspects of your marketing mix. The Thinking Cap can help you maximise the power of your social proof; for further details, contact us on 01757 268370 or email email@example.com.