This is an excerpt from the 44th edition of The Write Fit, a fortnightly newsletter about writing, editing and proofreading, content marketing and good editorial practices for business, from Sarah Mitchell and Dan Hatch at Typeset.
When our son was about six months old, we invested in a round of professional photos of our little boy. The session went off without a hitch and the photographer assured us he had several good shots.
A couple of weeks later my husband and I reviewed the results of the baby photos. As we were getting ready to leave, the photographer said he had one more to show us that he thought was special. It was a photo of my son and me taken just as I lifted him off the studio chair. It was a completely candid moment; I didn’t know the photographer had photographed me that day. He gave me the print as a gift.
When I showed it to my mother, she damned near lost her mind. She took it to the Kodak shop (this was 2004 when people still did that) and had about a million copies made. Her unbridled enthusiasm was embarrassing but I understood. It took 26 hours of flying time to visit her and she was terminally ill. The baby was a big deal at the end of her life.
Stay with me; I promise there’s a good marketing lesson here.
The little town where my folks lived had a bakery. Like everyone else my mom knew, the baker was inflicted with a copy of the photo. About six months later, the baker’s wife presented my mom with an oil painting of that photo as a thank you for years of supporting their business.
It goes without saying my mom loved it. A prolific letter writer, she had the oil painting copied onto stationery.
When my mom passed away shortly after, she left the painting to my husband and I collected all the unused stationery. This week I took the canvas to be reframed and told the story to the man who owns the framing shop. He said, “Have you written that down?”
Talk about beating me at my own game.
It’s the same question I ask my customers. All. The. Time. As marketers, we’re constantly on the lookout for customer success stories because they’re so effective. If you’re not using them, you should be. According to State of Writing 2021, case studies top the list for content that’s “worth the investment”.
What we often neglect to do is go through our customer files and find those historical stories we’ve never told before. They are often much easier to write because you’ve probably had a long-term relationship with the customer, so it’s more likely they’ll give you permission to use their brand in your marketing. You also have a lot more data to quantify the results of your success story.
If you have someone on your sales team who has been with the company for a while, chances are they’ll have notes about the origin of the story tucked away in a file or in an ancient email thread. Schedule a meeting with them and pick their brain, because there are likely to be stories that have never been written down. They probably haven’t considered the little pile of content marketing opportunity they’re sitting on.
The truth is, I haven’t written the story of the oil painting down. My son is now 17. He has no memory of my mom. If I don’t write the story, that bit of our family history will eventually be lost. The framer told me he’d put a pocket on the back of the frame so I don’t forget to do it. I already know what stationery I’m going to use.
25 May 2021
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