Is your case study candidate the Hero of your success story?

case study candidate

Introduction

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.case study candidate

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.

The 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:

  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.  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.

The Interview

Once you have your hero, you need to get their story.  The interview is crucial.  Be ready, and get the hero ready as well.

The time

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.

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:

  1. About/Background – company, industry, candidate (title and role in company).
  2. Challenge – what challenge were they facing that made them start looking for a new solution.
  3. Solution – how did they a solution and why did they pick you.
  4. Results – what benefits did our solution provide; how did you measure the impact (hard or soft metrics).
  5. 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.

The person

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.

The record

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

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 ‘good news stories’. (Click here to see more details about my skills and experience).

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT ME

 

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5 Blocks to Build a Successful Case Study

Introduction

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

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 pizzazz.

If you want 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 look at the 5 key parts to a case study and how to turn your case study into a compelling success story.

But first, consider your audience

As with any piece of content it is important to know your audience.  The goal of a case study is to build trust, in your product, in your brand.  After your ideal customer reads you case study, you want them to feel that:

  • you are experienced in the 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.

And consider the ‘skimmers’

With so much content out there, many of us have become ‘skimmers’.  Skimming headlines and section headings to see if the content is relevant to our needs.  For these readers you should include an executive summary.  A mini-headline serves 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.

5 building blocks for a successful case study

Tell your case study as a success story.  Stories have a beginning, where the 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.

All case studies follow the same progression.  There are 5 basic blocks needed to build a successful case study:

  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 part and see how the facts and details of your case study can be crafted into a success story.

Block 1:              The Customer

This first block is like the prologue to a novel.  This is where you set the scene for your story.  Tell us about:

  • the featured Customer and what do they do;
  • what the Customer wants; and
  • what the Customer needs.

Describe the Customer in terms of their being an industry leader and innovator who found creative ways to solve a business problem using your product, of course.

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.

Block 2:              The Challenge

In the Challenge section you describe the obstacles the customer was facing before your solution.  It is important to provide the context right up front.  The key here is to make the challenge universal.  Explain how the customer’s business challenge sits within the water industry.  You want your readers to be able to relate to the hero’s (your customer’s) problem.

Block 3:              The Solution

Here in the middle of the success story comes The Solution.  This is where the hero, your customer, 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 customer found you;
  • 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, conveniently 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.

Then describe the benefits of your solution.  Hard numbers are always better, like: ‘boosted revenue by 63%’ but soft benefits, like ‘saved time’ 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 customer’s use of your solution in 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.  And how to turn your case study into a compelling success story.

Come back next week to find out how to find the perfect case study ‘hero ‘and how to interview them.

 

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 ‘good news stories’. (Click here to see more details about my skills and experience).

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT ME

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Welcome to Water Copy

It’s always been about water…

Ever since I was a kid, I have had a fascination with water.  Swim lessons in the rain in Seattle.  Body surfing off California till our lips turned blue.  Tubing down rivers in Arizona.  Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.

That fascination with water has stayed with my all my life.  In my professional life water – quality, quantity, management, and use – is what has captivated me.

And in my professional life I have been well served by my love of reading and writing.  I love to research a topic and find the compelling idea at its core.  And then to prove that compelling idea in simple and concise language.

I love how words can transform complex scientific and technical concepts into stories that engage your prospects.  How stories can persuade, compel, empower

Okay. So, it’s always been about water and words…

I am now a freelance content writer with a focus on industrial water management and use.  I understand the science behind your wastewater treatment technology.  Better yet I understand your prospects and clients.  I understand the challenges they face in managing water and wastewater.  I know their pain points: supply, treatment, compliance.

I can help you communicate your value to your prospects and clients in effective ways.  I can help you build thought leadership in integrated wastewater management.

So, how do you persuade prospects to visit your website, connect with you, to contact you? You need to engage them both emotionally and rationally.  Find the emotionally compelling idea that will spark their interest.  Then prove to them that your solution will solve their problem.

How do you build thought leadership in your niche?  By providing compelling content on a consistent basis.  Allow me to help you with effective content assets: white papers, case studies and newsletters.

WHITE PAPERS

Extensively researched and effectively written, I write whitepapers that nurture leads through the lengthy sales funnel for wastewater treatment plants.  White papers vary in length, style, and investment.   We work together to address information needs at different points in the sales funnel.  We develop a white paper strategy that will pull in leads and nurture them into clients.

CASE STUDIES

I write case studies that tell your success stories.  Given access to the happy customer I craft a story that testifies to your brand. Your solution. These success stories are testimonials to your solutions as well as to what it’s like to work with your company.

 

NEWSLETTERS

Together we develop a newsletter strategy that streamlines the process.  That makes generating a newsletter that people want to read a piece of cake.  Newsletters chock full of meaningful content.  But that also show your personal side.  Your employees, Your impact on the industry and the community.

Let’s work together and create content that will generate leads, and build your brand. No one else researches the problems you solve like I do.  And I will work with you until you are satisfied with the final product.

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