When actual users praise a product, prospects listen
The most effective form of building brand integrity is Word-of-Mouth (WOM). ‘Word of mouth and referrals are an effective way to increase the sales of any business.’1 Manufacturer's press releases are inherently biased and trusted less than a testimonial. Press releases have their place, but they are little more than a late-night infomercial hoping for a sleepy impulse buy. Next least effective is the use of industry influencers with 15-20-25 years of experience; and whose income is reliant on the very companies they promote. From these folks it is always a rosy scenario. They do not mislead; they tell simplified tales of satisfaction, bright futures, and hopeful outcomes. Rainbows, lollipops, unicorns.
What works better than these tried-and-true marketing devices? Word-of-Mouth. Hearing from someone in your industry serving a similar market sector talk about why they made a software or hardware selection carries the power of first-hand experience. Video testimonials that explore the logic behind their choice for a solution provide valuable insight that is immediately relatable. When they explain the real timeline to full efficiency, how the company providing the solution responded to the specific issues, and what the resulting benefits were, you have a resource for valuable, meaningful, and relevant information. No pie-in-the-sky best case theoretical scenario, just the facts.
As for the industry influencers: Have they purchased and installed a printing press? Have they built an automated workflow? Did they manage a brand portal or B2C ecommerce site? Have they designed and engineered packaging? Do they have direct experience with the product they are promoting?
Why does these points matter?
Because the customer testimonial from someone who is using the product or service has far more credible things to say about value, ROI, TOC and support than any industry pundit. If the pundit is associating the product being represented with a market sector such as packaging, labels or embellishment processes, how do they know that the promoted product delivers as advertised?
To every manufacturer and software solutions developer, heed these observations. Use your satisfied customers’ stories to tell what value you bring, what support you provide and how your customers succeed. When you tell the story, your proud; when your customer tells the story, it makes the case for choosing your product. Use your customers' successes to provide the transparency that rings true to every business seeking the best solution. ‘A lot of account managers do not solicit reviews because they worry that the client will come back saying that they don’t actually like working with the company. But that never actually happens.’2
Trust testimonials from actual users carry more weight than an ‘industry expert’. Listen for the value that customer claims and the support they receive for the inevitable ongoing challenges a manufacturing or software solution presents. It is one thing to claim value because a product does something. It is entirely another when a real person says how that product performed and how the provider aided the success.