What is Centerline Digital’s “Customer Story Platform?”
Jan 24, 2012
A Customer Story Platform is a more comprehensive approach to developing and activating customer references and address emerging challenges in how to make them most effective.
First of all, customer references are assets (white papers, copy or videos of a company’s customers telling stories about their experience with a company’s products and services. Some people call them customer references, testimonials, voice of customer videos, customer evidence. By and large, industry has gathered around the term “customer reference.”
I suspect that agencies that create customer references all approach them differently. To us, when General Motors (IBM’s client) is willing to talk about how their IBM (our client) products and partnership were successful, we see that as an opportunity and we do everything to make that story happen and get that story into the hands of IBM’s next prospective customer.
For 15 years we’ve been creating customer references for some of the worlds largest companies and we have noticed some interesting and important changes in how companies create and activate customer references.
Among the things changing are:
- Quantity: There is an increase in the amount of sales enablement and awareness assets being created today. Left unmanaged, this increase means more clutter standing in the way of those the customer references are trying to help.
- Quality: Sales and marketing departments are requiring higher quality assets, and better stories. This means departments are re-examining budgets.
- Access: People are having a hard time finding the assets they require at any given point—there are too many assets in a hard-to sort/find system.
- Channel Shifting: The groups who need these assets are increasingly mobile and are looking for ways to get these assets into the hands of those who need them quicker on tablets and smart phones just as much if not more than for the desktop.
- Burnout: The way companies are using live (word-of-mouth marketing where a customer is contacted directly) customer testimonials is burning out their best customers.
- Usage: The way companies are managing their references isn’t as optimal as it could be and many are short sighted with respect to asset re-use.
So we set out to address the issues by helping our client’s transform their customer reference programs by outflanking these issues and building a better approach, a more evolved methodology and ultimately, a platform companies can employ to ensure they are maximizing their efforts and investment in this type of marketing.
So why does Centerline call it a Customer Story Platform? First, we prefer to call these assets, “customer stories” instead of references. Because we think the content should tell a compelling story. And from what we have seen, we believe the quality of content in these stories is lacking. So much of our work has been focused on addressing this problem.
The platform aspect is the system that we wrap around the content or story to make sure the stories are doing everything they can to help our client’s investment pay off. The platform has more to do with addressing the challenges of access, channel shifting, burnout, quality and usage.
Who can benefit from a Customer Story Platform? We believe that anyone managing a marketing or sales program within a company whose products and services are complex and/or whose sales cycles are elongated can benefit by employing a smart Customer Story Platform.
You can learn more about Centerline Digital’s Customer Story Platform by downloading our eBook or contacting the book’s authors here: John Lane (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Erin Craft (email@example.com).