Filling Your Story Pipeline
One of the challenges of managing your organization's blog or newsletter is to come up with story ideas. When you brainstorm on content ideas, consider asking and answering the following questions:
1. Ask customers to share their experiences with your product and service. Perhaps their answers become testimonials, perhaps they just generate story ideas.
2. Along those lines, review past customer submissions, be they testimonials, letters of commendation, survey answers and any other feedback that may have been submitted.
3. Make believe you are customer for a day, including, if possible, a visit to a customer location to see hands-on how they use your product or service.
4. Research your company from every angle possible including, for example, its brand, culture, history, origins and customer success stories to find anecdotes that can form the basis for articles of interest to your audience.
5. Discuss customer experiences with your sales team or customer service personnel to identify situations where your product or service solved a problem in a newsworthy way.
A more emotional approach
Another successful way to approach story ideas is to determine the emotional state of your customer, both before and after a purchase of your product or service. Then, write a story that shows an example of the emotional transition.
Consider the following approaches to articles based on the associated emotional state with which you want to identify.
1. Embracing how your solution provides relief to an existing problem: Find examples that demonstrate the challenges that exist without your product or service and the ways you can provide problem resolution.
2. Purchasing your product elicits envy or excitement: These posts often feature a lifestyle focus, such as a before and after storyline, or a feature that creates a visual in the mind's eye with which the prospect can identify or to which he or she can aspire.
3. Your best prospects feel desperate or real or perceived threats: This emotion is all about creating a narrative that raises concerns, and then showing how your solution provides a safe haven from the threats faced by the prospect.
4. Your narrative needs to build trust in the purchase and/or confidence in the product: This scenario is best addressed with case studies and/or interviews with existing customers that reduce the perceived risk in making a decision to go with your product or service.
5. Feel good by association: Stories that feature your organization's charitable giving, community support, internships, scholarships and other good deeds may resonate best with your target audience.