People visit your website to answer two questions:
Can they do the work?
Can I trust them?
A compelling case study is powerful sales tool because it answers both questions, and it is a gentle persuader because it doesn’t contain a sales pitch – only proof that you can deliver.
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. Include why they chose you and why it mattered. Then show how they worked with you and got better results.
Collaborate with your client.
To write the story, you will need to work in close collaboration with your customer. The best time to start is at the beginning of a project, but you can start with clients with whom you have built a healthy relationship.
- Tell the customer you would like to write their success story and post it on your website. If they are reluctant, don’t push. Let them grow used to the idea.
- Let them know they can use it any way they choose. I can be a press release, a news article, or a handout at a trade show. You are helping them build a story about how they improved, and they will want their customers to know.
- Explain that you will need 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. Let your new contact help you write the story.
- If you can, get quotes from the top executive team.
Try a proactive approach
The best case studies will be the ones you create by engaging the customer in the story from the beginning of the relationship.
The best time to open the conversation is right after the project kickoff. By then, you should have a good feel for what the working relationship will be. You will have a built-in success story by using the client’s business objectives for the project as the central theme of the story.
Some customers may be reluctant. Cross them off your list. If you have a non-disclosure agreement with the customer, don’t write about that client at all — 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.
This post was updated from an original post dated December 6, 2015.