Without a doubt, success stories sell.
A number of years back at an educational technology company where I handled marketing, a very bright, very ambitious young sales rep closed a single, multi-million dollar megadeal that catapulted the company’s expected revenue into another sphere. When I asked him what the secret weapon was that he used to secure the fantastic deal he crafted, he summed it up in two words: success stories.
You see, a mainstay of our marketing mix were detailed stories of school district successes. These were highly specific. They delineated the reasons our educational solution was purchased, what challenges were meant to be overcome, and exactly how it worked to successfully meet those challenges.
Success stories have unique advantages as marketing materials:
- They’re not a “look at me” promotion. They read more like a third-party examination than a piece of blatant advertising.
- It solved our problems, it can solve yours too. The problem/solution style allows a clear way to show how your product/service addresses specific needs and works in defined situations.
- He said, she said. By using quotes sourcing from district leaders, it softens the message since the accolades come from a third party.
- Keeping up with the neighbors. Success stories stoke regional competitive fires. If neighboring districts show such advancement, then surrounding districts will want a piece too. Be careful, though. It’s rather unlikely that LAUSD will give a lick about what’s going on in Miami-Dade. Think regional advantage. Think neighborhoods.
So how do you facilitate great success stories? While districts are proud to share their successes, the bureaucracy involved can be time-consuming and difficult. Lack of clear communication within your organization can hinder this further. So try these steps to make it all go smoother:
- During the sales process, it’s likely that you’ve worked with the district to understand their goals and expectations. Communicate these broadly so the entire team is in the loop, but in particular marketing, implementation, and customer service. They’ll use this information as the basis to measure district successes and drive the success story.
- Your implementation and customer care group will be keeping touch with the customer and making sure that they’re launching properly and on track to meet goals. Along with your implementation team, they’ll do everything necessary to make sure they meet/exceed what they’re trying to accomplish. A clear and definitive win makes for a great success story!
- Make sure of the ability to understand the metrics involved with success. Work as a team, and communicate broadly, clearly, and frequently.
- Get marketing involved early. Identify key district staffers and have marketing establish a solid working relationship with them, smoothing the way for an eventual story. Once a success opportunity is established, lobby for the public relations value of communicating district successes.
- As with most communications, specifics outweigh generalities. What were the standardized test gains? What was the percentage increase in the graduation rate?
- Consider creating both a video and a written study.
- And for your written success story – or for any format — make sure it follows through with your company branding and not that of the school district. It’s their success, but it’s a promotion nonetheless!
Whether delivered as a written piece, a produced video, or both, strategically developed and well executed success stories can be the magic bullet for growth. Don’t underestimate their potential effectiveness. They can be just what are needed to help your sales team shatter their revenue goals.