Previously we proposed something outrageous: case studies can turn customers into brand advocates. You can get clients excited to participate in your case study campaign.
A standard approach to case study creation would suggest otherwise; that customers feel hassled for “favors” when companies ask them to share information and get nothing in return. Fair enough. But who says we need to stick to the standard?
In content marketing, case studies are powerful pieces of promotional collateral that narrate specific customer experiences with a product or service. For an effective case study, you need to get an interview with the customer whose story you want to showcase, because direct quotes provide credibility. A detailed examination of how a customer overcame a problem with a product or service gives prospects invaluable insight into how the product or service could affect their own lives.
So you need customer cooperation to make this work. But don’t go asking for favors. Make it worth their while, and they’ll be thrilled to share your content with others, and do even more for your brand.
Here’s how to get customers excited to share their stories, and share your content:
Take a win-win approach
Offer case study participation to customers as a benefit to them, not as a favor to you. “Lavishing them with benefits,” as MarketingProfs.com expert Paul McKeon says, will eliminate any perceived risk of sharing their story, and give them lots of positive recognition as valued customers. Some convincing benefits include:
- Free press, by publishing the case study on websites or in email campaigns with links to the customer’s online presence.
- Service upgrades, reduced fees, complimentary consultations, and other financial incentives.
- Elite status in your company, perhaps granted through special access to information, recognition as a V.I.P. and/or invitations to exclusive events or seminars.
Ask these questions
Make it quick and easy for the customer to work with you, by coming to the interview prepped with questions that maximize time and encourage quotable responses. Start with these zingers:
– “Describe the most pressing challenges you faced before you tried our solution.”
– “What other solutions did you consider or try before our solution?”
– “How did you discover our solution?”
– “What did you expect to gain from our solution?”
– “What are the top three features of our solution that has made your experience excellent?”
– “What would you recommend to others using our solution for the first time?”
Extra tip: Offer the interview by email or telephone, to suit the customer’s communication preference.
Get approval before publication
You want a case study that compels the customer involved to share it proudly in their network, and leverage its marketing potential to their benefit, too. That’s why you need to have their full approval before you publish. Take this opportunity to collaborate on edits that make both companies look fantastic.
Say thank you
After publication, show sincere gratitude and enthusiasm for your customer in as many ways as you can afford. Send some thank-you swag, spotlight their company on your social media profiles, and offer web traffic reports that prove their gains in links and feedback. Customers will be eager to return the goodwill, through social media shares and advocacy for your brand.
As part of a “client-facing program” (McKeon), case studies do so much more than provide your company with invaluable marketing collateral; they recognize excellent customers, and nurture business relationships based on appreciation and shared success.
Share some success today. Contact us to add case studies to your content marketing arsenal!
McKeon, Paul. “Secrets of Case Study Winners: How B2B Marketers Can Create Successful Programs.” 8 March 2011. MarketingProfs.com: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2011/4579/secrets-of-case-study-winners-how-b2b-marketers-can-create-successful-programs