Is your case study candidate a real hero?
When crafting your next case study into a compelling success story, be sure to pick the right ‘hero’. A critical part of a successful case study is selecting the right customer. You want someone who is happily using your product, but they also need to be able to talk about how your product solved their problem.
Then, after you pick your hero, you need to get the best story you can. That involves an interview. By being organized will make the whole process a breeze.
In this post, we consider how to find your hero and then how to interview that hero.
Who is a Hero?
It is important to find a case study candidate that qualifies as a hero for your success story. You want a smart business leader who identified a challenge or just a better way to solve a problem. Someone who checked out the different options and picked your solution. So, you want someone who:
- has in-depth product knowledge;
- experienced remarkable or even unexpected results;
- has a recognizable brand name; and/or
- switched from a competitor’s product to yours.
Your hero should know your product or service well. That product knowledge will come through during the interview.
Where is your Hero?
How do you find your hero? You can find people who are already talking about your product or you can start by canvassing customers.
Find people who already love your product/service.
Check with your sales and service teams. They hear directly from clients and customers and may know of specific customers that had outstanding results and are happy to talk about it.
Check on review sites on the internet. Your customers may be posting reviews of your products. Customers may be talking about you on social media sites.
Send out emails to list of customers
Customers on your email list are another source of potential candidates.
When using email for reach out to case study candidates, you need to follow a few simple rules:
- Keep your first, introductory email short and to the point. Suggest a time and date to chat further but no specific details.
- Mention them by name in the email. Don’t send out generic emails; make it personal.
- Include your own name, too. Let them know who they are dealing with.
- Be complimentary. Boost their ego and make them feel special for being asked to participate. It may make them more likely to agree to participate.
- Attach the questions you’d like to ask. This will help them decide whether they want to work with you on your success story.
Will the Hero participate?
You may need to convince your hero to participate. Emphasize the benefits of being the hero. You could offer a monetary incentive, but this tends to come off as a bit dubious. Convince your hero that participating in a case study is really about free publicity and thought leadership.
Your case study candidate should understand that being part of this success story is a win-win situation. You get to tell your good news story and it gets the hero’s company and its actions out on your channels as well as theirs.
Is the Hero right for the job?
Once you have a short list of case study candidates you need to decide which hero is right for the job. Conduct a brief interview with each candidate and ask these three questions to reveal all:
- Tell me about your company.
- Which of our products do you use?
- What benefits have you gotten from our products?
You want someone you will give you complete answers. They may even volunteer information.
Avoid those who give vague, and/or short, answers. If they can’t define that benefits they have enjoyed, move on. While chatting try to make sure your hero is going to be easy to work. You will be connecting with them several times over the course of the project.
Let the runners-up down easy
After you decide on the hero for your success story, be sure to let the runners-up down easy. Let them know that you appreciate their time, but their story is not in line with current marketing strategies. You may want to use their story in future.
Once you have your hero, you need to get their story. The interview is crucial. Be ready, and get the hero ready as well.
This is important. Your hero is busy. Don’t waste their time playing phone tag. Contact the case study candidate and schedule a convenient time for the interview. Also, don’t waste time during the interview. It should take less than an hour.
The interview will also go much smoother if, when you schedule the interview, you also send them the questionnaire.
Sending your case study candidate a copy of the questions serves a number of purposes. Possibly the most important reason to use a questionnaire is that it makes it that much easier to keep the interview on track.
Keep the questions in the same order as the case study:
- About/Background – company, industry, candidate (title and role in company).
- Challenge – what challenge were they facing that made them start looking for a new solution.
- Solution – how did they a solution and why did they pick you.
- Results – what benefits did our solution provide; how did you measure the impact (hard or soft metrics).
- Future steps – how the solution will continue to provide benefits into the future.
Since the customer has had a chance to consider the questions, you should be able to draw out details of benefits that were maybe unexpected. Listen carefully and ask for details of key features and benefits of your solution that really resonated with the customer.
Now this may seem obvious but be sure to interview a real, live person. A case study based on testimonial videos and notes from the sales team won’t come across as an engaging success story. You want to be able to draw out details that the customer hadn’t anticipated, just by listening and interacting with a real person.
Whenever possible, and only with the customer’s consent, you should record the interview. This allows you to focus on the interview and not worry so much about note-taking. You won’t have to go back to the customer to clarify things you didn’t write down.
Your case study candidate should be the hero of your success story. By picking the right hero and interviewing effectively, your case study will almost write itself.
Next week’s post will look at how to effectively present your case study and the data that proves the results, your solution.
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Contact me to discuss your next case study project.