Four Things about Case Studies: Thing 2: Finding your Hero

case study candidates

From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry

Introduction

We’ve seen how to build a success story from a water industry case study. Another key thing you need to turn your case study into a compelling success story is a Hero.  A critical part of the story is selecting the right case study candidate to interview.  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. 

Thing 2, when moving from a case study to a success story, is about how to find the Hero of your success story.

Thing 2: Finding your 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:

  • an in-depth product knowledge;
  • experienced remarkable or even unexpected results;
  • 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?

So, how do you find your Hero?  You can look for 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 a 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 a Hero.  You could offer a monetary incentive, but this tends to come off as a bit dubious.  Convince your case study candidate that participating in a case study is really about free publicity and thought leadership. 

Your Hero 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 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:

  1. Tell me about your company.
  2. Which of our products do you use?
  3. What benefits have you gotten from our products?

You want someone you will give you complete answers.  It would be even better if they volunteer information.

Avoid those who give vague, and/or short, answers.  If they can’t define the benefits they have enjoyed, move on.  While chatting, make sure your Hero is going to be easy to work with.  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.

Conclusion

Your case study candidate is the hero of your success story.  By picking the right hero and interviewing effectively, your case study will almost write itself.

In next week’s post we look at to conduct the interview to get the most out of your time with the client in Thing 3: Your Hero may need help….

Are you so busy making a difference to your clients that you don’t have time to tell your good news stories?  Have you solved a wastewater problem for a client, a community, a country? Then get that story out there!  Let the world know how your company solves problems and makes a difference.

That’s where WATER COPY comes in.  I research and write top quality science-based success stories.

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT A CASE STUDY WRITER

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Four Things about Case Studies: Thing 1: Build it as a Success Story

case study writer


From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry

Introduction

In the water industry, trust is everything.  Building trust with your customers and prospects is critical to improving sales.  In the water industry, case studies are unbeatable at building trust. 

Unfortunately, case studies about water industry products and services are often dense, difficult to read, and, frankly, a bit dull.  Used to convey complex technical information about a solution to someone’s problem.  Written to a strict formula. No pizazz.

As a powerful bottom-of-funnel tactic, you want your case study to resonate with your audience.  To do that, you need to present it as a success story.  A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem. 

case study sriter

In this first post in the series Four Things about Case Studies: From Case Study to Success Story – Building Trust in the Water Industry we look at Thing 1: Build it as a Success story.  Use these 5 key blocks to build a case study that is also a compelling success story. 

Match the story to your audience

The goal of a case study is to build trust in your product and in your brand.  This makes them an excellent tactic for the bottom of your sales funnel.  After reading your case study, you want your ideal customer to feel that:

  • you are experienced in their industry;
  • you understand their industry’s specific needs; and
  • you know how to get industry-targeted results.

To do that you need to know your audience. If your system applies across verticals, target that part of your audience that will appreciate the challenges faced by your Hero.

Be sure to consider the ‘skimmers’

With so much content out there, many of us have become ‘skimmers’.  We skim headlines and section headings to see if the content is relevant to our needs.  For skimmers, you should include an executive summary.  Craft a mini-headline to capture attention and then, in a couple of sentences, or better yet dot points, summarize the case.  Highlight the relevant aspects that made it a success story. 

Thing 1: Build it as a Success story

Stories have a beginning, where a hero is faced with a challenge.  Stories have a middle, where a solution is presented.  And they have an end, where the results of the solution provide benefits to the hero.

Case studies should follow this same progression.  Thus, there are 5 basic blocks needed to build a case study into a success story:

  1. The Customer (Hero) block
  2. The Challenge block
  3. The Solution block
  4. The Results block
  5. The Future block

Let’s break down each block and see how the facts and details of your case study can be crafted into a success story.

Block 1:     The Hero

This first block is like the prologue to a novel.  This is where you set the scene for your story.  Tell us about your featured customer – the Hero of the success story:

  • what do they do;
  • what they want; and
  • what they need.

Describe the customer as an industry leader and innovator who found creative ways to solve a business problem, using your product, of course.  Describe them as your Hero.

Remember, although it was your product or service that saved the day, the customer is always the Hero of your success story.  Always treat your product as a supporting character.  [Next week’s post looks in more detail at how to find a Hero for your success story.]

Block 2:     The Challenge

case study writer

In the Challenge section you describe the obstacles your Hero was facing before he found your solution.  It is important to provide the context right up front.  The key here is to make the challenge universal to the industry, to engage your chosen audience.  Explain how the customer’s business challenge sits within their industry.  You want your readers to be able to relate to the Hero’s problem.

Block 3:     The Solution

Here in the middle of the success story comes the solution.  This is where the Hero decides to implement a solution to their challenge. 

Take your readers on a journey as the Hero searches for a solution.  Explain how your solution compares to any others on the market.  And, of course, your solution proves to be the one that can save the day.

In this section you explain:

  • how your Hero found your solution;
  • how and why they picked your solution; and
  • how the solution was rolled out.

Be sure to highlight specific features that appealed to that customer.

You can also provide details of the implementation of the solution.  However, if there were major complications with this stage, you may want to leave that out.

Block 4:     The Results

The results section is where the data and technical details come in.  This is where you provide proof that your product solved the problem presented in the challenge section.  Charts and graphs describe the data visually.  This not only helps your reader understand your solution, but also breaks up blocks of texts.

Use data relevant to the story.  Summarize large data sets where appropriate and use colors in graphs to highlight trends.  The last post in this series helps you pick the best visual for your data.

When describing the benefits of your solution, hard numbers are always better.  Numbers like: ‘boosted revenue by 63%’.  However, if all you have is soft benefits, like ‘saved time’ these can also work.

Block 5:     Into the Future

As with an epilogue to a novel, this section is often missing from case studies. But describing the Hero’s use of your solution into the future can be powerful in generating trust.  Tell how your products will be an essential part of their operations moving forward. 

You should explain how your support services provide benefits over the long term.  It demonstrates your commitment to your customers’ on-going success.

One more thing…

In the water industry, the impacts of your solutions can roll out over time.  Positive business and environmental impacts take time to develop.  Consider keeping up with your customers and chronicle how your solutions continue to provide benefits.  This lets readers see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs, but also to ensure long term results

This is particularly effective in the water industry as your solutions often provide benefits beyond your immediate customer.  Managing water resources sustainably provides benefits to the community and the environment.  Tell that story, too.

Conclusion

For your case study to resonate with your audience, bring in leads, or close a sale, you need to present it as a success story.  A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem. 

In this post we looked at the key building blocks to a successful case study.  How to write your case study as a compelling success story. 

Come back next week to find out how to find the perfect Hero for your success story in Thing 2: Finding your Hero.

Are you so busy making a difference to your clients that you don’t have time to tell your good news stories?  Have you solved a wastewater problem for a client, a community, a country? Then get that story out there!  Let the world know how your company solves problems and makes a difference.

That’s where WATER COPY comes in.  I research and write top quality science-based success stories.

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.


CONTACT A CASE STUDY WRITER

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