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5 Ways to Get Your Customers to Create Content For You

You’ve heard enough about the need to produce content that I’m guessing you’re probably blogging away and curating, aggregating and filtering all manner of content. But there’s one type of content that you may not be focused on and I happen to think it’s some of the most potent to be had – and that’s customer generated content.

Your customers, the ones that already know, like and trust you, are more equipped to tell the real story of your business than an army of writers in any marketing department, so why not engage them to do just that.

Imagine taking your best, most loyal, most vocal, customer with you on your next sales call and asking them to simply explain the real benefits they’ve realized because of the work you’ve done for them. That’s the power of customer generated content when done right and that’s why you need to routinely find ways to acquire it.

Below are five ideas to help you get your customers telling their stories.

One question testimonial

Create a survey that asks every customer one question. On a scale of 1-10 how likely is it that you would refer us. Now, set the survey up so that if the answer is 1-4 the survey taker is redirected to a page that apologizes and sets the expectation that they will hear from someone immediately to find out what went wrong.

If it’s a 5-7, send the customer to a page that says, you’re not happy until they are happier than that and ask them to suggest how you could have done better.

For the 8-10 answers, redirect them to a form that allows them to submit a testimonial and ask them to check a box if they would agree to be interviewed for a case study.

This is a great way to automate testimonial generation and keep a real time pulse on how you’re doing. I use Wufoo forms to run this process, but I’ve heard good things about Formstack as well.

Video appreciation party

I’ve written about this before, but it’s such a great way to get lots of great video content that I thought I would share it again.

Once a year or so hold a client appreciation event to say thanks and create a networking event for your clients and prospects. Hire a video crew for the event and, after a few bottles of wine have been emptied, ask some of your clients to talk about their experience with your firm on camera. Then also let them record a five minute commercial for their own use too.

This is a great way to get lots of testimonials and case studies in one day and your clients will get very engaged in swapping stories and selling each other on the benefits of working with you.

Tell us your story

Getting your customers to share their experience is a very powerful form of content. You can sit across the desk and interview your customers in order to extract this kind of content or you can employ a handful of tools that make it very easy to capture these stories.

For audio only content a testimonial recording line from AudioAcrobat is a great way to go. You simply provide your customer with a phone number that they can call and record their story. The service then produces an mp3 and code to embed on your site for people to play the recordings.

You can also use a tool like MailVu that allows you send a link with a video capture tool so your client’s with a web cam can record a video testimonial or story and submit it with little work on your part.

Community knowledge base

What if you could find a way to get your best customers to willingly shoulder creating answers to questions and best practices? Tools like ZenDesk and GetSatisfaction make it easy for you to enable community members to provide help and archived advice to other customers and prospects.

Robin Robins, founder of Marketing Technology Toolkit in Nashville, TN involves her customer community in an incredible way. She has created a membership program that allows her mostly IT business customers to receive ongoing business building support through coaching, training and tools she provides.

She has created what she calls “accountability groups” in the membership program and customers head up these groups and do a great deal of work keeping participants engaged and on track. Heading up these groups is not a paid position; loyal and committed customers that want to play a bigger role in the community do it.

Help your peers

Using a tool like Google+ Hangouts, Skype Video Conference or GoToMeeting Video Conference you can easily host and facilitate a group video conference where your customers and their peers can discuss important industry and business challenges and trends. You can record and archive the event and create some very useful and engaging content.

This is not a sales event, but by virtue of the fact that you have included customers in the conversation, there will be the inevitable discussions about what you’ve done to help them address a challenge.

Creating opportunities to capture the stories your clients have to tell is an important piece in any fully developed content strategy.

So, what have you done to get your customers talking?

Weekend Favs August Twenty Seven

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.

Image: [email protected] via Flickr

Good stuff I found this week:
Answerbase – With Answerbase you can easily create a Question and Answer community right on your own web site. For the right niche can be a great way to build content and attract search traffic.

Formstack – Great tool for creating custom web forms, landing pages and surveys. Lots of power and very easy to use.

Signal – This web based tool combines your mobile, social and email marketing efforts into one platform