How to Bring Customers Into Your Brand Storytelling

Customers are an integral part of your brand story. In fact, they’re the star attraction.

Wordsmithie helps businesses tell their brand stories through their customers’ voices and experiences. These can take the form of short testimonials, longer case studies or feature articles. Customers who’ve benefited from your products or services are often happy to share their stories as a show of loyalty and a way of helping others. For some, this may be the first time they’ve ever been interviewed for an article.

Here’s how to make it a positive experience for everyone.

Get permission

Before you begin, consult your legal department or business attorney about obtaining permission to use customer stories in your marketing materials. Some businesses use a formal permissions form in which customers agree on how and where their stories and images will be used. (And we don’t recommend paying for customer testimonials.)

Put customers at ease

Whether you’re a B2B, B2C or nonprofit organization, you have customers with positive stories to share. Once you find your happy customers, ask them if they’d be willing to share their story in your marketing materials. No pressure! If they’re willing (and those with the best stories usually are), connect them with a writer who has experience conducting interviews. Assure them they’ll have an opportunity to review their story before it goes live.

Send questions in advance

An experienced writer puts the customers at ease and treats them with respect. Part of this is respecting their time. To facilitate the interview process, email the customers a few questions in advance. This helps them prepare the information your writer needs to draft the story.

Respect their time

Assure customers the interview won’t take more than 30 to 45 minutes. Good writers can get what they need for a short testimonial or case study in that time—another reason to prepare good questions in advance and make sure they’re answered in the interview. Send follow-up questions via email.

Manage the review process

Here’s where things can hit speed bumps, particularly in organizations that review by committee. Identify one person on your team to reconcile everyone’s comments into one master draft, and don’t share it with your testimonial subject until it is well cooked. Again, the customers’ time is precious and they don’t need to be part of your company’s internal back-and-forth review process. At the same time, make sure customers are editing for fact and not rewriting your story. (Most won’t, but be prepared to handle the occasional heavy-handed customer-editor with tact.)

Don’t forget to say thank you!

The last thing you want after working for weeks or months on a great testimonial is to have the customer ask, “Did my story ever run?” Keep them posted through editing, design and production, and be sure to send them a link to the published piece. And THANK THEM for their participation. They’ve just helped you create the best advertising money can’t buy.


ABOUT Heidi LaFleche

Heidi launched her writing career as a newspaper and magazine journalist—most notably as a Boston correspondent for People magazine. She transitioned into marketing communications for business, helping clients find the right words to engage their audiences. Heidi is a Senior Editor for Wordsmithie, and also runs her own freelance writing business on the side. She writes within a range of industries including technology, healthcare, financial services, legal services, education and nonprofits. Her slogan: “Every business has a story. Let’s tell yours together.”