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?

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • The cool thing about these ideas is that they satisfy multiple outcomes besides crowd sourcing content ranging from customer relationship building & recognition to cross promoting client businesses through your own site.

  • Great ideas! I especially like the One Question Testimonial. Well thought out.

  • I like the 1 question testimonial ideal. It is easy to implement in the monthly communication I send and the answers will populate in my customer database. I can use mthe content when necessary and follow up on problem issues.  This helps solve service problems as well as create content.  Thanks!

    Colleen Gillette

  • Michael Jones

    Thanks for the great ideas. We’re trying to engage our customers more and the survey idea is fantastic! What are your thoughts about Survey Monkey? That’s who we’ve been using, but are open to ideas.

  • Randy Vaughn

    Encouraging the right kind of customer to write a 5-star review on your Google Place Page would be a similar tool to the testimonial. 

  • Cool angle and great ideas. Any insights on the wine to serve?

  • Love the survey option. I am also finding having a LinkedIn Company page very useful and asking people to leave a recommendation on a product or service of mine. That way it’s publicly viewable there and I can transfer it to the website too – so saves time and they’re happy to be quoted on both sites and receive the SEO benefits.

  • John,

    Do encourage reviews of your business on Google, Facebook, or Yelp?  And if you do how do you do that?


  • This is a fantastic article! I’m having our guys draft up a survey with redirects to build our customer testimonials. Thanks for sharing this advice!

  • Good stuff, John. The only thing I’d worry about is a group testimonial from intoxicated, rowdy, well-meaning clients. 🙂

  • We have been kicking around this for a while. We have a call-in number for people to ask questions that we can use in our podcasts. Not really them creating content tho. We have just opened an option for other handyguys or handygirls to have their own show on our network. We will look at your other ideas too. Thanks for this.

  • I like the idea of getting all of our customers on a conference call so we can go over marketing ideas to grow there business. Should we create a separate website for these kinds of social gathering or host it under our company name? Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • Aj

    These are tips that help you make your content strategy even more complete.
    The third party credibility is powerful for others to hear.

  • Jason Brown

    I love the 1 question survey idea, definitely going to try it out. Thanks John!

  • Jhaynam

    I have employed these strategies, and they are very effective. Check out the results here

  • We do the Video appreciation party and collect our best video testimonials there.

  • An absolutely brilliant post, thank you. Lots of techniques I hadn’t thought of. The survey is a great idea as it offers some benefit to the customer who isn’t happy (and the customer who’s already happy doesn’t lose anything either).

  • Mel

    Thank you John for this well written and valuable piece. So many things I’ve never thought of. I especially liked the idea about video appreciation party and shooting a commercial. In fact there were so many things you mentioned that were excellent! 
    My industry is most competitive and this kind of thinking outside the box, especially the video appreciation party  would be great to add to an overhead tele that shows former clients of ours endorsing our services and our location. Again, thanks!

  • Sue Miller

    Thanks so much for the good info. We will be having a Customer Appreciation Party soon. I can’t wait to implement your idea to have clients video taped giving testimonials or stories about our company at the event. It could take it to an entirely different level. Our clients will also love being chosen to be on camera!