6 Steps to Creating a Killer Case Study Program

Looking for a new way to tell your story? Look no further than a case study – or a series of them. Case studies showcase how actual customers are using your products and services – and seeing strong results and benefits. They are an integral part of your marketing strategy and will be your sales team’s #1 piece of collateral as they look to close deals.

If you have a plan in place, securing, writing and designing case studies can be well worth the effort. Instead of thinking of case studies as individual pieces of collateral, think of them as one of your top marketing platforms, and plan as such. These six steps can help your case study program become your best marketing tool:

Get Organized. The devil is in the details, and the first step in creating a case study program should always be understanding what information you need for each customer. The details you’re collecting aren’t just the technical details of the implementation, but rather a database or spreadsheet of information you need across the board about customers, including their name, contact info, priority order, products used, why they chose your company, and other details.

Get Sales Involved. The biggest beneficiary of a completed case study is the sales group, so get them involved early in the process. Once you’ve created a spreadsheet or database framework, hand it off to the sales team to start populating in a way that makes sense to them:

By vertical market

By location or region

By customer size

By application of technology

Once it’s determined how to group your case studies, sales should be in charge of populating the spreadsheet, contacting customers to determine interest level, prioritizing companies or vertical markets, and so on.

Interview the Sales Representative. The person closest to the customer and the customer problem is the sales representative that brought them on board. That sales rep will be your best information source, and it’s likely that 90 percent of the information you need about the customer will come from them. Ask the sales team: What do you want this particular case study to highlight? How will you use this with potential customers? The sales rep knows all of the ins and outs of the particular customer, from pain points to results. They can help provide valuable background to prepare you for the call with the customer.

Interview the Customer. At this stage, sales should have identified their most promising case study subjects and sent an introductory email to the customer, introducing the writer and reminding the customer that they agreed to participate in a case study with your company. Ask the customer the same/similar questions asked of the sales rep, but with the personalized “insider” knowledge that was gained from the sales interview. You’re looking for “color” and quotable quotes here – what made this customer choose your company? What would they tell other prospective customers? If a customer says something that needs further probing, don’t be afraid to go off script, as long as it adds value to the end result. Don’t waste your time and theirs by asking questions that don’t deliver clear value to the case study.

After the Interview. Let the customer know the process. Once you write the case study it is reviewed internally, and then given to the customer to review the text. The finalized text is then laid out using the company’s case study template. Set a realistic turnaround time; oftentimes approvals can take a while on both ends, and on the customer end may involve more people than the person you interviewed.

Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose. With each case study you create, you add to the sales team’s arsenal of collateral to use to approach new prospects. However, a case study shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it piece of collateral. There are many ways to repurpose this content on your own site and on others, such as videos, blogs, LinkedIn posts, white papers, eBooks and more.

Wrapping Up

Once you’ve had success with one or two case studies, it should be an easy sell to get your sales team on board for a complete program. By now, they should be talking to customers about case studies as part of the implementation process so that as soon as the solution is up and running, the process can begin.

One thing to remember: You can never have too many customer examples. By approaching case studies as a program, you’ll find that each one completed gets progressively easier. The toughest part is getting started, and with this guide, you’re well on your way.

Want more details on how to get your case study program started? Read Calysto’s White Paper How to Create a Killer Study.

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