It’s no secret that case studies are a key part of your go-to-market strategy. Highlighting your work with real customer experiences can be a great way to show potential clients what you do and how well you do it. If you get the story right, they can create a strong endorsement for prospects, along with a personal reassurance directly from an existing client – which will guide your leads along the buyer journey.
So why do so many businesses find they don’t get the engagement they were hoping for from their case study efforts?
Behind the scenes, case studies can be time-consuming and require a fair bit of administrative effort: designing interview questions, liaising with the client, carrying out said interviews, sharing drafts, making corrections and amends, and then chasing for final sign off. Many businesses find it an uncomfortable task even asking customers to participate.
The reality is, that despite all these efforts, the output is often disappointing. The resulting piece can sound one-dimensional and a little dull – a string of ‘and then this happened’ does not make for particularly inspiring reading. In their least sophisticated form, case studies can appear to be thinly veiled sales pitches, broadcasting in just one frequency, making it difficult for prospective clients to engage or feel drawn in.
When they’re not working well for your business, case studies can end up being shelved or filed away in a dusty corner of your website, barely to be seen again. It’s no wonder creating customer stories often slips to the bottom of your marketing team’s to do list. So much effort for so little reward.
Be clear about what your prospects need to see. Typically potential customers are looking for evidence that:
Your case studies need to cover these essentials and leave your prospective customers in no doubt that you can do a great job for them.
Rather than ‘case studies’, think ‘customer stories’ – first-hand accounts of your business, authored by the very people who have experienced your great work.
However, obtaining those first-hand accounts and spinning them into gold can be tricky. You need to use the potential power of your customer’s voice to your advantage, to create compelling, impactful customer stories that help new prospects to see your business as the next step on their buyer journey. You already have a strong partnership with your customers, so who better to tell the world how great you are?
We know that just regurgitating facts won’t impress any audience. You need to work with your customer to craft an inspiring story together: a story that engages potential customers; where they can identify and find familiar ground; one that creates an emotional connection and evokes their interest and empathy. That story needs to follow the classic rule of storytelling – set up a scenario, then give an example of a challenge followed by a resolution – and if possible using measurable results as proof points.
And remember, there are success factors in other outcomes that aren’t so easily measurable e.g. what was the impact on the team? How did your work lighten the load or alleviate the stress for the key stakeholders? What other projects or initiatives were they able to work on as a result?
Set the scene: include the backdrop of the industry, the environment and the landscape.
Build empathy: introduce your key characters, to enable a quick connection and easy understanding, and explain the challenges they faced.
Offer a ‘happily ever after’: position your success alongside your customer’s success, leaving potential customers with a positive, undeniably impressive end to your story.
Get these steps right, and you won’t want to be filing that customer story away on a web page people rarely visit. You can genuinely harness the power of the story to draw your audience to you, to shine a light on your capabilities and explain what makes your company their next trusted partner.
Our Customer Success solution provides you with everything you need to tell a powerful, engaging customer story. We work in partnership with you to ensure we deliver a professional, positive experience, creating inspiring brand stories that you and your customers are proud to tell together.
To find out more about how Marketing Fusion can take your case studies from a regimented fact file to customer story masterpiece, check out our Customer Success Programme.