DIY Success Stories | Step 6. Avoid 12 Common Pitfalls

You’ve created a useful success story designed to market your business by demonstrating to prospects and customers your ability to help them receive the same type of results you’ve accomplished elsewhere.

The ultimate purpose is to present you and/or your company, services and products at their finest.

Before you declare victory, take time to check your work one last time, and take care to avoid the most common pitfalls.

Sidestep 12 Common Pitfalls

1. Don’t make sweeping claims of success that you can’t support with data, evidence, an anecdote or customer testimonial. Data means numbers. Evidence could be something as simple as a before and after photo or description. An anecdote is a small story, usually told through the customer’s eyes. A customer testimonial is a quote or endorsement.

2. Don’t devote too much space to your company, products or services. The best strategy is to emphasize the customer’s problems, challenges, needs and the impressive results you’ve helped them achieve.

3. Don’t tell tall tales or overstate your contributions to the strategy, solution, implementation or results. Let the facts speak for themselves. Let the customer speak for you.

4. Don’t ignore bottom line results and outcomes. Put these metrics into context where possible. Helping a client save $600,000 a year is impressive. Emphasizing that this translated into $1.8 million over a three-year period is better and more memorable.

5. Don’t write in a jazzy, bloggy or unfocused stream-of-consciousness style. To be effective, success stories must be clear, precise and succinct.

6. Don’t indulge in overblown marketing language. You know you’re close to that state if you’re using lots of superlatives (finest, fastest, largest, smallest, best) and/or lots of lush descriptions (dazzling, dramatic, incredible). Even if all these are true, it can be a bit difficult to believe. When in doubt, opt to understate the facts. Let customer quotes convey your extraordinary qualities.

7. Don’t ignore shoddy writing, misspellings, poor grammar and typos. Write clearly and succinctly. Be factual and specific. Use active language and write from the reader’s point of view, not yours. Use proper grammar. Avoid insider language, unfamiliar terms and unknown acronyms.

8. Don’t forget to proof with a ruthless eye. If you have a question about grammar, spelling, punctuation or anything else, resolve it. Find the answer in a reference book or online. Ask a capable colleague or friend for advice. Or, send me an email, and I’ll do my best to answer promptly.

9. Don’t cram too much content into the space available. A complete success story will typically occupy the equivalent of one or two pages. It’s far better to incorporate some “white space" (blank space) and allow the reader’s eyes to rest, than it is to fill a page wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling.

10. Don’t waste time on complicated layouts. The layout should be crisp, clear and easy to replicate. It should also blend with other marketing tools, such as your website, print brochure and digital presentation. If you want a flashy or complex design with all the bells and whistles, hire a professional.

11. Don’t forget to use simple, clear tables, graphics or photos to illustrate key points. While the content is key, the right chart, graphic or photo can help drive home the true impact of the situation you’re describing.

12. Don’t forget to include your company name, logo and contact information. Incorporate whatever level of detail is appropriate that fits easily in the space available. Note your website, blog address and social media links if appropriate.

Remember these Key Points

Success stories are quite versatile, and they don't need to be flashy to be effective. The Sight & Sound success story is simple and understated. Success stories created for Bob Chapman, Sandler sales coach, while more comprehensive, remain firmly focused on clients and results.

Success stories can drive traffic to your website, anchor a presentation, supplement a tradeshow display, or enhance a workshop or webinar. They can be shared with clients and prospects in print, by email or online. They provide a context for your products and services, so customers and prospects better understand what you offer and the value you create.

You've worked hard to create your success story. Now put it to work for you and your business.

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Related: DIY Success Stories
6 Easy Steps (Overview)
Step 1. Market Your Business
Step 2. Get Started
Step 3. Focus on Facts
Step 4. Write It Now
Step 5. Hone the Content

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