Traffic lights on green

Ahhh the tricky subject of permission. Especially when its customer content. We’ve all been there haven’t we. We’ve been working with a customer for ages on a campaign to celebrate their success using our product or some version of that. Suddenly, their PR team or marketing people swoop in and before you know it the red tape is out and the shutters are up… goodbye months of work, farewell amazing content.

Do you have to kiss goodbye to all that content?

Does everything we produce have to go public?

My thoughts are that it doesn’t always need to be public to be valuable. Which means you need to ensure your leadership gets that too!

Customers need to feel comfortable with what you’re going to do with their story. Remember that even with the best laid plans, and pitching to their people the benefit of working on a project to celebrate them together, things can go wonky.

What to do if a customer says you can’t use the content – all is not lost!

Always, always, always explore permissions with customers. Internal learning for your sales and customer success teams is as valuable as public content. There is some ridiculous stat that says that people retain 65-70% of information you tell them, if you tell them a captivating story. I don’t know where that stat comes from, BUT it rings true for me, think about the best ghost story or romantic encounter story you’ve ever been told. You can probably near enough re-tell that story verbatim because of the way it was told!

Explore permissions with the customer

If a customer at the last hurdle says they are sorry, but the red tape is too much, then always check to see if you can share the story internally with your teams. 9 out of 10 are going to say yes, because it’s an anecdotal story that exists in the ether, but this is incredibly powerful for selling and retention. You as the advocacy person need to take that story and embed it within your internal teams. A newsletter highlighting this isn’t going to work, go and tell the story to the team!

Neil Patel has four tips for ensuring you get proper permission from the outset of asking for testimonials. In particular don’t lift testimonials from review websites… not without asking first.

Don’t panic if they say no

My last piece of advice is not to panic when you feel those shutters coming down, internal learning is so valuable. Don’t take that for granted and empower people within your organisations to be storytellers too.