Customer case studies are powerful promotional tools for a high-tech product or service. However, convincing clients to participate in a case study can be a long and frustrating endeavor. It can be just as difficult to motivate a client to review and approve the story once it’s written.

You can reduce this effort and produce higher value case studies by following the essential strategies outlined here for recruiting candidates and managing the approval process.

Recruitment of good candidates

It’s always tempting to say “yes” to any case study candidate put forward by a sales rep or product manager. But your marketing and advertising efforts will be better served if you qualify the candidate before committing to a case study.

The following questions will help identify the best candidates and get a good story.

History appeal. Does the client have a story you really want to tell? For example, does the story provide an opportunity to discuss an interesting problem, solution, or application? Is the company in a particular industry, country, or market that you want to target?

Moment. Is the story ready to be told? Is the product implementation complete and does the customer have interesting results to report?

Participation agreement. Have agreements been made with the client to tell the story? Technology companies sometimes require that customers agree to a case study as a condition of receiving a beta version or early shipment of a product.

Client preparation. Has the client been informed about the case study process? A standard letter or information sheet can be emailed to the client to simplify this process.

contacts. Are you talking to the right person within the customer organization? You may need to speak to multiple people to get a complete perspective and someone with the proper authority to speak on behalf of the organization.

public relations involvement. Do you need to engage or get approval from the client’s PR person before starting interviews or publishing the case study? Do you need to organize access to employees and facilities for photography or filming?

Handling reviews and approvals

Certainly, an accurate and well-written case study is essential to gaining client approval. But your follow-through during the review process will determine if and how quickly the client will approve the case study.

These guidelines will help you develop a good follow-up process.

Internal reviews first. Always complete internal reviews before sending the first draft to the client. Clients should never be asked to go through the approval process more than once due to late feedback or follow-up questions from their internal reviewers.

Quick response for the draft. Deliver the first draft shortly after the client has given an interview. Delays on your part can send the message that the case study is not urgent, which can cause the client to give the review a low priority.

Send a complete package. Along with the draft text, please submit photos, video clips, diagrams, or other illustrations that will accompany the case study.

Use an approval form. The approval form must allow the client to verify the specific approved uses for the case study information; grant permissions for all photos, videos, and other media; and specify any other conditions. Please do not publish the case study until you have received the signed approval form.

Tracking for approval. If your customer contact is slow to respond with feedback or approval, be courteous but persist in your follow-up messages.

Send a thank you. Send the final case study, thank you notes, and perhaps a nominal gift, such as a company t-shirt, to everyone involved. Include the URL of a web version or hard copies of the published case study.

Celebrate! Promote the case study internally. Giving sellers a story will encourage them to help you with useful case studies in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *