success story

Customer case studies are one of your strongest marketing tools. A success story delivers the credibility of a 3rd party and can speed up the sales cycle.  Unsurprisingly, prospects place more weight on what others say about you, rather than what you say about yourself.

So, how about making sure you make the most out of your case studies?

Getting Clients to agree to a case study

How do you get customers to agree to give you data and approve a case study? In many cases, companies remember to request that permission well after the project is complete and payments have been made. Life is much easier if you set the terms for a case study during pre-negotiations. So that at the last ‘nibble’ stage of negotiations, when the client asks to knock off a bit more from your price, you can suggest a tradeoff and set the terms for sharing the data for a case study. Take a look at this short video segment of sales manager Vince Thompson, formerly of AOL and Facebook.

Video or text?

Probably both. Use a text version case study so prospects can download and sales people can distribute during meetings. However, video case studies are powerful, as they provide an immediacy and authenticity, which written copy cannot provide. Here are some examples of good video customer testimonials from Riverbed.  Box is another company that does excellent video customer case studies.

How long?

As short as possible. Regardless of the format you select, stick to the facts and what would interest your prospects. Use a very short into about the customer, and move quickly to the challenge/problem. The solutions section should only include relevant/interesting facts — whether about the implementation process (only if relevant), or how your customer uses your solution/service today. And the most important part is the results, which many times are not convincing enough. Yes, that’s the most difficult part to put together, but that’s the most important part too.

Length wise, a written case study should not be more than a double sided page.

Results/Benefits

What can you (or a prospect) make of benefits like “dramatic productivity improvements,” “significant cost reduction,”  “shorter sales cycle,” or my favorite, “enhanced visibility.”

Yes. In many cases, it’s difficult to get hard number from clients, but unless results can be quantified, they do not mean much. So your objective is to get some numbers from your client. And by the way, percentages are good enough (30% productivity improvement).

Customer quotes

Here’s the thing. We all know that in many cases, you’re the one writing the quote, and the customer only approves it. But if that’s the case, at least try to make it sound like a customer. A customer does not use wild adjectives to product features, but usually describes in a down-to-earth way how a product/service helped them solve some problem.

Personally, I prefer leaving customer quotes almost as is, even if not grammatically polished, to maintain authenticity.

What’s your experience with case studies?

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