Your Customers Are Always the Story

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In writing and movies and storytelling, there’s always the question of point of view. From whose eyes will we see the story? Who will lead us into this world? In Harry Potter, the title character is our point of view, and we experience all the magic from the eyes of someone who was seemingly normal, like us. Most stories start like that. They lead us in from “what was” into “the exciting new part.” Jaws starts with Chief Martin Brody trying to be the best dad and chief he can be, and ends with all kinds of crazy. But Brody’s our point-of-view character.

Your Customers Are Always the Story

Where marketing seems to go wrong more often than not is when it’s about the product and not the story it helps the customer tell. They lose the sense of a point-of-view character. They think the thing is the star. But that would be like making a movie about the Batmobile instead of Batman. The car is cool. No doubt. But we need a story. Knight Rider was basically a show built to sell Trans Ams, but we still had David Hasselhoff there to help us get the story told.

This video’s a bit long at 7 minutes, but watch how Intel makes a customer into a story:

Can’t see the video? Click here.

It’s okay for the product to make an appearance, obviously, but the goal is to use the product to tell the story of the people using it.

And Now You

How can you make the story be about the customer? Easy. Find customers that use your product and love it. Seek testimonials. Find ways to make interesting things happen. Bert DuMars from Newell Rubbermaid posted this video from the Sharpie Slam at Digital Atlanta. It’s the product empowering a story.

See how that works?

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  • Hannah Marcotti

    I love how you keep bringing us back to the story -ours, the customers, even the product or service can have a story. It is making me think about a dot-to-dot that continues on and on, always coming back around.

    And that first video, awesome. I have a short attention span but I may watch it again, thank you for sharing.

  • Raul Colon

    Wao I really enjoyed the Intel video. I think that is a good example when you bring a lot of elements of creativity together and you put the spotlight on the customer you get some that is really interesting. 

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  • Niall Harbison

    The Intel video is good and I watched it because you had suggested it but I just don’t see how it would get my attention in the short space of time I would normally see it on a website and I certainly wouldn’t last 7 minutes

  • Michael Cobases

    It really is difficult thing to do but right now when blogging and social networking are emerging this have become a little easier, the main thing applies and you still need a great story but it will be easier for your customers to retell in over and over again while spreading your business reputation

  • Reid Walley

    Hitting it on the head, Chris! “Find customers that use your product and love it. Seek testimonials.” A client just left a testimonial for my life & business coaching services. Testimonials really are the best way for my “product/service” to make a minor appearance within the client’s major story of using it and coming out ahead.

  • Henry Louis

    Oh! It is very interesting to watch the videos. Nice post.

  • Daniel Decker

    Very true. Good example is how Apple markets products. They do so by focusing on the experience, people using the features, not just the features themselves. Context is everything.

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  • Link Building Services

    Its great point to do the branding more effectively and to make the people known more about the brand and to get the trust of them by the stories of other customers who have used the brand. And this is the success of the big brand and companies that drive more customers towards them. And one point on people that they always listen what other people say about the brand and not even interested to know what companies has told about their product. So connect the people story with the people that not deal with you and drive them to you.

  • Anonymous

    I love how video can tell the story so effectively just as in the Sharpie example. Putting the product to use and showing how your customers use it are great selling tools. It really is all about the customer. Bring them in and make them part of your story … show, don’t just tell. Thanks for sharing these examples.

  • thesis

    good video! and I like tatto in barber)

  • John U Lord

    I like this because it’s applicable to many phases of life and business. For example, this approach makes as much sense for career-changers as it does for products. It’s a smart idea to know a potential employer’s story, and weave your own skills and traits into it as a way to explain how valuable you’ll be for the employer. Thanks for the post!

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  • Sarah

    Excellent reminder — this was very valuable, thanks so much. I shared this with my coworkers, and we’re going to have a brainstorming session later this week and reanalyze our marketing strategy.

  • Anonymous

    Chris, every story has a protagonist and an antagonist; I wonder how you can take advantage of showing the other side of the coin to come up with a compelling brand story.  I guess, making the customer the story is possible when your product/service has made a (huge) difference in that person’s life… Thanks for the videos!  Your post reminds me to revamp my customer success story.

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  • Drew Gneiser

    Great post, Chris.

  • Jane Virtual Agent

    That was a great post! I agree with what you said that every entrepreneur should find customers that use your product and love it. Without our customers feedback we wouldn’t know if our products are doing great in the market. We should know what the market wants and try to provide it so that we won’t lose them as customers.

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    Thanks for this a nice post.

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