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Blogging Customer Stories

Lincoln SignThere are so many good reasons for small businesses to use blogging as an essential marketing and communications tool that I can only hope my occasional examples turn the light bulbs on for those who still don’t yet see the value.

Lincoln Sign Company in Lincoln, NH – a company that makes and installs all manner of custom signs and not exactly the first kind of business you think of when you think Web2.0 – has been blogging for several years and is a great model for what a small business can do with this tool.

One of the things they recently initiated was a way to use the blog as a way to tell the complete story of a sign as it is being made in their shop.

Our new strategy can be summed up as follows; “We are not using our blog to sell signs, we are using our blog to sell the EXPERIENCE of getting a sign.”

As we create a sign in-house, we blog about it throughout the process, and it enables us to interact with our customers as a new way. We also use it as a selling point.

“At the end , you get more than a sign, you get a sign, AND the story of how that sign was made.”

We have also just started providing our customers with “Memory Boxes”. Basically paint samples, scrap materials, hand-written notes, etc. The flotsam and jetsam of making a sign

This post sums up their new approach

This is such a smart way to use content as a marketing strategy. They get great buy in from the customer as to the value of the process (my guess is they aren’t the cheapest around), they create a story that can be used over and over again and they automatically create web content that brings them search engine traffic.

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  • http://www.CathyStucker.com/ Cathy Stucker

    Great story and example, John. In addition to the benefits you mention, there is another: In the process of blogging about the work they are doing for the customer, they are also promoting the customer.

    I am a big advocate for including your customers in your marketing. Talk them up, link to them, make others aware of them. The recognition makes the customers feel important, and it gives them one more reason to love you! ;o)

  • John Jantsch

    @Cathy – that is so very true – I wonder how many of those customers also show off their sign in progress and effectively act as referral machines?

  • http://www.signsneversleep.com J.D. Iles

    John

    Wanted to thank you for talking about us. This kind of word-of-mouth really helps to get the word out about what we are trying to do.

    We really are trying to do something different here at Lincoln Sign Company. I don’t know of many companies that allow their customers to watch the progress of a custom product like a sign being made. We want to engage our customers, educate them, and give them a get story to tell.

    We are going to be starting to do “exit interviews” with our customers who have had signs features on the blog, and see what they “took away” for the experience. I will try to blog about that in the next few months.

    FYI: I will be doing a post about the “Memory Boxes” we do for each sign very soon

    Thanks again,

    J.D. Iles
    [email protected]

  • http://www.barjdcommunications.com JudyAnn Lorenz

    Customer experience is a built-in blog theme/topic that is especially resistant to writers’ block. Great idea.

  • http://www.popoyorental.com/html/gallery.html Nicaragua Surfing

    Just goes to show you how powerful good content is :)

  • http://www.business901.com Joe Dager

    I guess the old days are over? Keeping your customer updated during the production process is part of your marketing strategy! I like it.

    I think Cathy hit on a great point. The promotion of your customer is your best strategic weapon. I try to involve my customers in most of my own marketing. It is my best promotional strategy and kills 2 birds with one stone. And besides that, who would want to leave their best PR person?

  • PIa Vergara

    John,

    Thanks for your example. Lincoln Sign Company’s communications strategy via blogging hits all the right notes for a successful marketing formula.

    1. Creative: I haven’t witnessed a company make use of blogs to “design” customer experience like they do. Totally innovative and new to me.
    2. Customer-oriented: Process is truly interactive. The focus remains on meeting the customers’ needs + giving them a little something extra.
    3. Effective relationship-building tool: It elevates the relationship into a partnership. Instills a sense of loyalty in the customer.
    4. Added benefit: Great take away. Not only do they get customized signs, customers also have great stories to tell.

    This certainly turned the light bulb on in my mind. Great post.

  • http://easylocalshopping.com Pierre Fregeau

    What the business community in this Country needs right now are more success stories like this one. Small business owners are the backbone of our economy and they are hurting. Many of them are unaware and/or confused by all this Web 2.0 marketing. They just don’t know where to start.

    Lincoln Sign are doing a great job at not only featuring their craftsmanship but also their customers.

    This post is an inspiration and a must for all small business owners

  • http://www.more-for-small-business.com Kris

    Very refreshing to read about a ‘traditional’ business that is embracing digital technology. It’s a great story to share with other small businesses who have a hard time adapting to using the Internet as a marketing tactic or technique. Unfortunately the majority still think website marketing is putting their brochure online.

    (PS I love their slogan “Signs Never Sleep”.)

  • http://www.signsneversleep.com J.D. Iles

    I just want to thank everyone for all of the kind words. Yes, we are trying to do something very new and there are days where it can be very exciting, and there can be other days where it can be very lonely.

    The biggest thing I am working to do right now is get the word out and make sure we are out there and in the “blogosphere’s consciousness”. Please feel free, if any of you are interested in mentioning us on any of your blogs, feel free. Additionally, if any of you need any additional information, please feel free to get in touch.

    Currently we get about 4500 page views a month, and for us to make a real impact and we are looking to make that much, much higher.

  • http://www.zaggededge.com ZaggedEdge

    While it is great to blog customer stories, they are sometimes hard to believe.

    Nothing replaces good old fashion WOM…or maybe a link to the customers blog?

  • devx

    Very inspiring. I run a somewhat similar business (Lighted Mobile Billboards for cars) and I was thinking of implementing something similar to what you guys are doing.

  • http://davidcastroflorida.blogspot.com DavidCastroFlorida

    They got it! B2B blogging 101 for SMB. Dynamic content loved by the bots and spiders. AND inbound links for from customer posts loved by Google page rank algorithms. The pure benefit of B2B blogs, IMHO.

  • http://www.thepowerpublicist.com Shannon Cherry

    Great example! Customer relations is very important! I have my own blog site, http://www.blogger.com/cherrycommunications to help build relations.

  • http://signevent.com/mobile-billboards.html Mobile Billboards

    Thank you for sharing your story. It's such a good idea for marketing strategy, and it's very helpful for my report. I came up with a new idea!!

  • http://www.club-penguin.org/ Club Penguin Cheats

    I don't know of many companies that allow their customers to watch the progress of a custom product like a sign being made. We want to engage our customers, educate them, and give them a get story to tell.

  • http://www.club-penguine.org club penguine cheats

    I don't know of many companies that allow their customers to watch the progress of a custom product like a sign being made. We want to engage our customers, educate them, and give them a get story to tell.