How to Get Your Customer to Participate in a Case Study

Updated August 22, 2021

A case study can be your most potent, hard-working marketing tool. Here’s why…

People visit your website to answer two questions:

Can they do the work?

Can I trust them?

A compelling case study answers both questions. Doing so acts as a gentle persuader because it doesn’t contain a sales pitch—only proof that you deliver on your promise.

It’s not about you.

In a case study, you are the hero of the story, but not the main character. It is about your customer’s journey to success and how they solved their problem with your help.

  • The story unfolds with how they learned they had a problem or opportunity, what they tried, and why it didn’t work.
  • Then, tell why they chose you and why it mattered.
  • Lastly, show how they worked with you and got better results.

Collaborate With Your Client

To write the case study, you will need to work in close collaboration with your customer.

The best time to start is at the beginning of a project… unless you have already built a robust and healthy relationship with one or more clients.

Tell the customer you would like to write their success story and post it on your website. If they are reluctant, don’t push. Instead, let them grow used to the idea.

Set the Stage for Success

From my years in HR technology consulting, I can assure you that setting clear, measurable expectations at the start of a relationship will pay huge dividends.

Not only will it make the relationship go smoother, but it will also form the basis for recognizing the value you bring.

You will have a built-in success story using the client’s business objectives for the project as the story’s central theme.

The best case studies will be the ones you create by engaging the customer in the story from the beginning of the relationship.

  • In your first project meeting, tell the customer you would like to write the case study and ask for their help.
  • If they are reluctant, don’t push. Instead, let them grow used to the idea. Bring it up at the next meeting.
  • Let them know they can use it any way they choose. It can be a press release, a news article, or a handout at a trade show.
  • Explain that you will want their approval of the final copy before you publish anything.
  • Ask your contact who would be the best person to work with and ask for an introduction.
  • Then, let your new connection help you write the story.
  • Get quotes from the top executive team.
  • Consider that you may need to wait for concrete results to appear. Update your story as the results appear.

Let your customer shine, and the light will shine on you.

Working with Current or Past Customers

Getting a case study from customers you have worked with can be more difficult, especially if you haven’t created an expectation you will follow up with them.

Try broaching the subject in a follow-up call. You could begin by asking what success they are having and how the solution is working for them.

If they have a success story to tell, it’s a perfect time to talk about telling their story.

If you are working with a professional copywriter, arrange an interview with your customer and the copywriter. A seasoned copywriter will have a structured interview plan that will bring out the highlights of the relationship.

Handling Negative Feedback

If they have negative feedback, encourage them to talk specifics. Let them go on until they run out of steam.

Then, acknowledge the criticism and try something like: “Thank you. That tells us what went wrong. Do you have anything to add about what went right?”

Don’t ask for a case study right away. Let some time pass before you ask them about telling the story of their successes.

Some customers may be reluctant to participate in a case study. Cross them off your list.

If you have a non-disclosure agreement, don’t write the story—even in a way that doesn’t disclose their identity. Word will get around.

Carry the Message

Case studies will work hard for you, and some will be relevant for years. The story you write will be a powerful message for both companies.

Let your customer shine, and the light will shine on you.

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