By Sheldon Gladstein
Companies that recognize the superior value of white papers frequently realize the powerful benefits of parallel or follow-up case studies. White papers subtly but effectively present your product or service as the most logical and best solution available. Case studies (also known as business success stories) back up that claim with highly credible third-party proof of your solution in action. Together they make an extremely effective, memorable “one-two punch”!
That said, when embarking on writing a case study in addition to your white paper, a big question looms–
How do I find the right customer to use in my case study?
Many businesses struggle with this basic starting point. Before investing time, effort, creativity, and money, it makes sense to select the right customer who will best highlight the benefits of your product and service. But how do you find that golden customer?
Steve Slaunwhite, B2B marketing expert, provides several useful ideas. In a recent interview on the subject, he suggests the following:
Ask your salespeople. Salespeople have the best insight as to who is the best customer to ask to participate in your case study. They know who is the most enthusiastic. They know who is happiest with your product. They know who is the most expressive, who would be best to interview. They deal with your customers on a day-to-day basis, go out to lunch with them, go to meetings with them, know them. Ask the salespeople you trust which customers they would suggest as the best subject of a case study, and move forward with that information.
Conduct an outside survey. Employ an outside consultant to contact your list of customers. If it’s an outside consultant, customers will feel freer to speak their minds. Have the consultant ask questions about your customers’ experiences with your product or service. Through the process of conducting this survey, you’ll wind up with a lot of testimonials, raw material for success stories. Based on this information, you’ll know which companies are the best to contact, and who to contact in that company.
Contact marketing or PR representatives of likely candidates. Make a list of customers you know from experience have had positive results using your product or service. Contact the marketing or public relations departments of those companies, and ask them to get on board for the process. These people will recognize the value of case studies for their company and for yours, and will likely be eager to help with the process. They will put you in touch with the best people to contact in the company, and impress upon them the benefits of participating. They will greatly facilitate the process for you.
Using the above methods greatly enhances the effectiveness of your case study. The more readers find out about your successful solution, the more they realize that they are eager to try that solution themselves. This translates to more leads, more customers, and a great deal more success.