“Work hard in silence. Let your success be your noise.”
This popular quote, misattributed to various sources, may be sage advice for some industries. Small business, however, is not one of them. Silence – on social media, review platforms like Yelp, or your company’s website – is exactly what you don’t need. Your clients and potential clients need to hear from you on a regular basis and the message needs to include reminders of why your service or product is an excellent option.
But if you, like many small business owners, are uncomfortable tooting your own horn, creating blog posts that do just that can be a problem. Heck, even creating a blog post on any topic is a challenge, especially if you’re pressed for time and wearing 16 other hats.
One simple workaround: instead of telling your own story, get your clients to do it for you. Find the person in your company best suited to conducting interviews, send them to someone who loves your business and has no problem saying so, and take it from there. Seek out those who have stayed in your mind because their problem was particularly tricky or compelling.
Done well, client stories actually change your readers’ brains. According to Forbes’ Magazine author Giovanni Rodriguez, hearing stories activates a successive series of neurotransmitters: cortisol, most commonly related to stress but also connected to awareness; dopamine, aka the pleasure center drug; and oxytocin, the same chemical released during childbirth, which promotes prosocial, empathetic behavior.
Numerous studies have been done on the benefits of storytelling in business. Here are just a few:
- Stories engage feelings as well as thoughts.
- Stories capture and retain attention.
- Stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts.
- Storytelling conveys purpose and values.
- Client stories are more likely to be shared on social media.
- Storytelling creates brand loyalty.
While telling stories about problems you solved can still create some of these effects, hearing the story directly from the person involved is even more powerful. That’s why whenever I’m hired to write blogs for businesses and non-profits, I inevitably propose interviewing clients. Unless they are truly not good at what they do, almost everyone has at least two or three people who are happy to go on the record about their experience. As your business grows, so should that number.
Here are a few excerpts from client stories from the arenas of finance, restaurants and physical therapy, respectively.
Smoothing the Renovation Process
It all started with a rug. After 25 years of living in the Ken Lake, Olympia home they’d built, Linda and Ron Collins decided it was time to replace their carpet. Like pulling on a single thread in a sweater, that decision led to larger, more complex projects until ultimately, they moved out of their house for seven weeks while First Finishers did a total remodel, including doubling the size of their outdoor deck.
“We decided to replace the flooring, and when you get new flooring, it makes the cabinets look really tired,” says Linda. “We never really did like the popcorn ceiling.” The last straw was a backhanded compliment from some of their son’s friends. “They came to stay with us, and later he told me that they said, “Your place is kind of cool in a retro kind of way.’ Retro?!” says Linda.
They hired First Finishers, an Olympia-based company with contracts throughout the Puget Sound region. For Ron and Linda, the process was surprisingly smooth. They appreciated the First Finishers pricing structure, which allowed them to always know exactly how much they were spending and where it was going. “You know what they’re charging you for and what you’re getting,” says Ron. “They take the cost of the materials and the cost of the labor and add their percentage. They take care of everything after that. They discuss your options with you, what would be better or worse. It was a great experience.”
Olympia Restaurant Inspires Date Night for Local Couple
If Kari Sborov and her husband Scott have their way, a new item will soon be appearing on the menu at Olympia’s Pizzeria La Gitana: the Sborov Special. “We’re working on getting Marian to add it,” says Kari. “We love the mushroom pizza with light ham and chopped fresh basil. You can’t beat it.”
Pizzeria La Gitana was originally recommended by a friend, says Sborov. “Her son was one of the regular cooks and she said, ‘You’ve got to check out the new pizza place in town.’ We went, and both my husband and I had flashbacks of the pizza we’d had in Europe when we were in our late teens. I said, ‘This is exactly like the pizza I had in Germany,’ and my husband said the same thing.”
Ever since, they’ve made the restaurant their date night destination. “We treasure our date nights,” says Sborov. “Usually we take a Wednesday or Thursday night when we don’t have the kids because they’re with the other parent. We take cards, dice or dominoes and we share a pizza and side salad. He gets one beer and I get one glass of wine. It’s a perfect date night for us.”
Physical Therapist Keeps 62-year-Old Marathon-Ready
Susan Giardano didn’t start running until she was in her 50’s. As a single parent of two young boys, she was looking for a way to keep up with their energy levels and running seemed like a good fit. A decade later, she’s completed the Trials Legacy Marathon (a recreation of the first women’s Olympic marathon trials held in Olympia in 1984), six half-marathons, a 25K trail race and numerous shorter events. She’s also a member of Olympia’s Guerilla Running Club. “Running is really important to me,” says Giardino, now 62. “It’s my social circle, my sanity and my health all wrapped into one.”
When her ability to run has been threatened by injury over the years, she’s turned to one reliable source to help her get back on the trail: Penrose Physical Therapy. Owner Jennifer Penrose and her staff have helped Giordano recover from hip pain, plantar fasciitis, a torn meniscus in her knee that required surgery, a pulled hamstring, and a torn ligament in her ankle.
“One of the things I really appreciate about Jennifer is that she’ll look at the whole picture, not just the issue that’s bothering you,” says Giordano. “She puts me on a treadmill when I’ recovered enough and videotapes my form, looking for weaknesses or anything that might have caused the injury to happen. Then she gives me the tools to prevent it from happening again.”
These are just three examples out of many. If you’re one of those business owners who are inherently modest, getting client stories can be a way to get your feet wet on the way to becoming fully comfortable describing what you do best.
- Make a list of the top
five clientstories that stand out in your mind from however long you’ve been inbusiness.
- Contact those clients and
see ifthey would be open to an interview.
- If yes, either identify
someone inyour company or hire a professional writer who can interview them and writeup their story. Specifically ask them to focus on the problem that wassolved, the client’s experience, and the impact your product or servicemade.
- Post on your website and social media.
To learn more about the stories quoted above, visit: