This morning, just as I finished my "social" stuff . . .
Because part of my job as a marketing copywriter is to help you differentiate yourself and your products and services, and because I know that many of my corporate clients care about what Gartner has to say, it took me about a nanosecond to decide that I needed to click that link.
The snippet I found most interesting, and which sparked this article:
Here is what would be nice: rather than the suppliers just listing their capabilities and products, maybe instead the prospect could create a ‘day in the life’ description of their issue: the business outcomes, the locations, the preferences for specific models (on premise/private-cloud/public cloud/hybrid delivery), the number and type of users and their locations. And then using the vendor-supplied template and some configuration logic, Presto, an ‘outside-in’ response to the client/customer/prospect issue.
Granted, the author suggests vendors provide some sort of software application that lets prospects enter data about their companies and issues and get back in return some sort of "day in the life" output. I'm not a programmer so I can't speak to the feasibility of that suggestion.
How to use the day-in-the-life model in your marketing content
But I am a writer, so what I can suggest--and what I often do suggest to clients--is to create success stories and other marketing materials using the same "day in the life" model.
What might that look like? Here's a snippet of a day-in-the-life success story I rewrote for a major enterprise technology firm; note that I'm using made-up names throughout. I've also left out the opening paragraphs to get right to the heart of the day-in-the-life:
Coin-Toss Time: Fulfill customer requests for information now, or later?
Every day, Kramerica's small staff struggled to juggle regular administrative tasks and a never-ending stream of requests for paper-based information:
- School employees and would-be employees called, emailed, and sent letters asking for updated teacher certification requirements, retirement forms, and other documents and information.
- Parents, wanting to send their children to school in North Carolina, called, emailed, and sent letters asking for school district analyses, student achievement reports, and more.
The administrative office was turning into an information fulfillment center, spending nearly xx hours each week responding to up to xxx requests for paper-based information.
Big Boss Cosmo Kramer faced a dilemma: Tell staff to either interrupt the regular work to promptly fulfill incoming information requests, or handle the daily administrative work first and fulfill information requests later, as time allowed.
Until Kramerica discovered Vandelay Industries, Cosmo, seeing no other option, had been instructing his team to handle the administrative work first. "The cumulative costs of these manual activities were high, and the service was slow,” Kramer recalled. “With only a few employees to handle the mountain of information requests, it often took us weeks to respond.”
Granted, if the original story writer had access to the individuals within Kramerica's offices, and perhaps even access to Kramerica's customers--educators and parents--the story could have had much more depth, detail, and pull. But many companies creating success stories don't dig that deeply (a mistake in my estimation and another post altogether).
Even so, just reading the information at hand, can you imagine being in the shoes of someone else, in some other company, facing a mass of requests for paper-based information? And if so, might this story resonate with you? Might you also think, "Yeah, I know exactly what that's like," and then feel ready for the next piece of the story, in which the hero finds a solution, and changes how the people in his office work every day?
I don't know about you, but THIS reader would be ready!
The difference between challenges and day-in-the-life
Here's the point: Most of the gazillions of success stories out there follow the same, tired "challenge, solution, result" format. And I think that's okay, as long as the "challenge" presents real, day-in-the-life type stuff that will resonate with readers instead of talking about bland "challenges" like this:
- To improve services
- To minimize application errors
- To implement a new software solution
Yes, those might be challenges. But what PAINS do those challenges cause? How do those bullet points play out in your target reader's mornings? Find out by asking "Why?"
- WHY do they want to improve services? What's wrong with services as they are? Who's experiencing pain with the current services--and how does that pain play out in people's work and lives?
- WHY minimize application errors? Are they causing each staff member to spend another two hours' worth of manual work to track down the correct information? Do customers suffer in some way because of those application errors?
- WHY implement a new solution? What's wrong with the old one? How is the old one hurting different stakeholders?
You see, the best and most resonant success stories (and the best and most resonant marketing content, for that matter)--contain stories about people. They contain stories that capture and convey what life was like before, and after, someone buys your product or service. They contain stories that differentiate.
Think about it: If your competitors are using the stale, old way of communicating features and functions versus how those features and functions change the lives of people, then your company, which is marketing differently, will stand out in amazing ways.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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