People you sell to have long since grown tired of your marketing stuff. The adage ‘self-praise is no praise’ comes to mind. Maybe that’s why we’re told as kids not to blow our own trumpet. Graciousness in defeat, humility in victory.

When faced with a problem, the first thing people will do is ask their peers. Have you faced this before? How did you deal with it? Who should we be talking to? Have you used these guys before? Were they worth it? In the networked economy, review portals and social media make this very easy.

When people can’t get they want from their peers, then they seek out the views of other customers. There are various degrees of customer advocacy, from the verbal mentioning of a client, through the use of their logo, a quote, a success story, to a detailed case study and finally the reference site, the customer who will take calls and site visits on your behalf. The greater the degree of advocacy, the harder you have to work to get them. The bigger the company, the more drawn out the process. It’s hard work getting the blue chip reference client, but it’s also worth the hard work.

When you’re preparing a press release about a customer win, or drafting a customer success story of some degree, I advise you to interview the client if at all possible. Sure, you know your key messaging, but it sounds so much better framed in the words of the people who use and benefit from your solution.

Furthermore, do as much of the write-up in the first person, using the voice of the customer to tell the story. It’s more powerful, credible and respectful that way. And, your customer can use it for their own marketing too. You’d be surprised how many see the personal and corporate benefits of being a happy customer.

Oh, and make sure you get the customer to sign off on the words too. Then as long as you don’t change the words you can recycle them at will. They are the gift that keeps on giving.