Are Blind Use Cases Worth Your Time? 5 Ways to Make the Most of Them

You have an awesome product or solution, and your customers really like how your company helps theirs do things better. The problem is, they can’t give you an endorsement via a case study or press release. Or they promise to but drag their feet on the execution. Meanwhile, telling their success story to other companies would really help you make your business case seem that much stronger. Big problem, right?

There’s nothing quite like a big brand name (or a series of smaller ones) giving you a resounding endorsement for your product or solution. Who wouldn’t want a customer telling the world how your product or service created a cost savings or made them more efficient? But the reality is many companies can’t act as a reference for a number of reasons. Their legal team may block all such requests, it may be a company policy (if we do it for them, we have to do it for all partners), or they may be using your product to do something proprietary that may impact their competitive stance. Whatever the reason, it’s disappointing not to be able to publicly tout their success.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get some mileage out of their use case, especially if it has created great results for the company. Case studies are proof to potential customers that your solutions do what they say they do. So-called blind case studies (or blind use cases)—where the company name and any proprietary use is not revealed—can actually be quite useful in terms of showing the world why people choose your products and solutions.

Why are blind use cases better than no case studies? Because people love a good story, especially one they can relate to specifically. Your marketing materials likely talk a lot about feeds and speeds, reach, availability, reliability and so on, but it is how your product solved a specific problem that customers can relate to.

Yes, it’s true, when you can’t name the customer, a case study loses a little of its luster. But honestly, just a little bit. Making a blind use case work is all about the story you tell. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Call out the issue or problem succinctly. People remember stories more than they will your product details. If your product or solution helped company X solve a big headache for the customer, it’s worth mentioning. While you want to make sure to follow the rules of case study writing, using the standard “Problem-Solution-Results” format, it’s just as important to tell a compelling story with real problems and real results.
  2. Tell a short story, and a long one. Make sure you have bite-sized, consumable content for the case studies, but also longer form content to allow people to dig as deep as they want to.
  3. Don’t try to identify the customer without naming them. It’s OK to say “a Fortune 100 retailer” when there are 20 retailers in the Fortune 100. It’s not OK to do so when there’s one or two. Don’t give away details that name the company without actually naming them; it could come back to bite you.
  4. Do try to segment case studies out on your website, either by vertical market, type of problem solved—or both. Link to case studies or use cases from several places on your website to get the most out of your investment.
  5. Use these case studies internally as well as externally. It’s true, sometimes even in small companies, the left hand does not know what the right hand has been up to—especially in today’s work-from-home environment. Make sure everyone on your team is up to speed on how customers are finding success using your product or solution. Be careful, however, that internal information does not become public information.

It’s OK to start slow. Make fair claims and tell a compelling story. Test the waters and see if customers respond to your initial blind case study efforts before jumping in with both feet.

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

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