Journey to Amsterdam © by katielips

A good testimonial is priceless. With a handful sentences, you can establish credibility and authenticity, let prospects visualize the results you can generate for them, and improve the likelihood that they will buy from you.

But did you know you can turbo-charge that testimonial to get even better results?

Turn it into a customer success story – also known as a case study.

 

What is a case study?

Case studies are longer, more detailed testimonials; they’re typically 750 to 1,000 words long – about one to two printed pages, or three to four screens on a webpage. In a nutshell, they identify a customer’s problem and show how your company provided the solution. However, the best case studies don’t stop there.

 

Bring out the details

There’s a whole journey from Problem to Solution that needs to be explored. Your case study should explain:

·         Who is the customer? What are their products and their niches?

·         What was their problem, and what challenges prevented them from easily solving the problem?

·         How did the customer find out about your solution? Did they consider other providers? What criteria did they use to select you?

·         What was your solution? How did it address the customer’s challenges?

·         How did they implement your solution? How long did it take? What new challenges did the implementation create?

·         What results did your solution give them – both anecdotally and measurably?

Ultimately, specific details make a case study great. Generic anecdotes without supporting facts make a case study weak. Always include facts where you can.

Compare these sentences:

Our sales staff is more knowledgeable as a result of this training program.

We’ve gotten 4 new leads in less than a week as a result of this training program.

The second sentence is stronger because it is more specific. Anecdotes can paint a general picture, but the proof is in the numbers.

 

Who makes a good case study customer?

Ask your support staff or your sales team. Case studies can be good projects to take on during slow periods, and incentives – cash prizes, gift cards, etc. – can get the attention of your employees if necessary and remind them to be on the lookout for good success stories.

The customer should be willing to use their name; a case study without a name is wimpy and not worth your time. The customer should have a solid story, hopefully with measurable results. And the customer should be able to give you an hour or two of their time – both for you to interview them for the details of their story, and also for them to review and approve the case study once it’s written.

If you’re having trouble finding customers willing to be the subject of a case study, incentives such as product discounts may help. Since case studies can often make good press releases, customers may be swayed by the possibility of free publicity as well.

 

What can you do with a case study?

Case studies naturally complement your marketing materials – think of using case studies as examples in Power Point presentations, in product literature, and on your website. Prospects nearing the end of the sales cycle benefit the most from cast studies; these prospects have already learned about you and your services, and now they’re looking to confirm their opinions and justify their inclination to buy. They can also help you penetrate deeper into a large customer; if your solution has been measurably successful in one branch of a company, writing the case study can give your sales team the qualitative information it needs to sell the head office on implementing your solution company-wide.

Other uses include…

1.       Attract the attention of journalists with a case study sent as a press release. Make sure that the case study is written in an editorial style (i.e., with a straightforward, no-hype tone).

2.       Use case studies as relationship-building tools. Send email blasts alerting your list to the new case study on your website, or mention it in your e-newsletter, and nurture those leads.

3.       Give away case studies at trade shows.

4.       Put your case studies on a CD as a leave-behind for sales calls.

5.       Take the problem the case study identified and write a white paper about how to solve the problem. Use the case study as an example within the white paper.

6.       Take the problem the case study identified and create a webinar that shows prospects how to solve the problem. Invite the customer featured in the case study to co-present with you.

 

Where to start?

Case studies can be powerful tools, but they can also be time-consuming to write well. Don’t be afraid to call a professional writer to help you; a good freelance writer with experience writing editorial-style articles and with solid interviewing skills can often take far less time than your own in-house staff. And being an outside third party, a freelancer may be able to ask the customer tough or sensitive questions and may even be able to get the customer to open up more freely as a result. In the end, outsourcing the case study may prove to be more cost-efficient and give you a better return on your investment.