If you want to use case studies to differentiate your business and gain buyers’ trust, the first thing you need to do is find the stories that you need to tell. Once you know how to uncover these stories, and you get your whole company involved, you’ll discover that you have a consistent source of ideas for the best type of content that influences your buyers’ decisions. No special tools are needed to give these five tactics a try.
1. Look where you’re already getting feedback
If the customer satisfaction surveys that you send out have names attached to them, you can mine them for possible stories. If you notice that you’re getting lots of good feedback from a particular company, then that’s a good signal that they’re happy and might be open to sharing their story.
You obviously shouldn’t approach customers who you know are not happy, but don’t assume that a lack of overt feedback means that the customer doesn’t have something to share. Don’t be hesitant to give them a call to see if they’re open to doing a case study.
2. Make the rounds and talk to your staff
Make it a habit to talk to your employees with the intent to learn about their experiences and how they see their work making a difference to clients. It’s definitely more difficult to get some people to open up. They may be hesitant to talk about themselves because they don’t want to be put in the spotlight. Teach employees the value of case studies for your company and explain their part in identifying possible stories as an important contribution.
Ideas don’t just pop up when you’re talking. You’ll often find that your conversations get people thinking and that an idea will occur to them later. Make it super easy for staff to share ideas whenever they pop up and make sure to thank them whether or not your end up using their story idea.
3. Make story sharing a part of your regular meetings
When sharing stories is part of your regular meetings, you’re not only going to find possible case study ideas, you’re going to discover stories of how your culture is lived out every day. Put a few minutes of storytelling into your daily team meetings when you ask – who was a part of a great client experience yesterday?
This is one of the ways that the Ritz-Carlton has created their world-renown storytelling culture. You can read about it here. http://ritzcarltonleadershipcenter.com/tag/wow-story-2/
I would never require employees to share or give them an assignment that they had to come up with a story. The truth is that participation will not be the same for all people and that should be okay. The role of your story champion (see #5) to develop rapport and train people to be story finders will be loads more effective than forcing people to do something that they aren’t comfortable with, or just plain don’t want to do.
4. Put story gathering into your processes
The completion of a project is a good time to approach a client for a case study. You might have to get the yes, and then follow up a few weeks or months down the road after the client has had time to experience the results of your work with them. Talking with the client about how the project went would give you some good feedback for your project process, but for a good case study you want to learn about the value that your work brought, so it’s better to wait it out.
Your regular client meetings can also be a good time to broach the topic of a case study. Stick your ask at the end of your meeting, along with your thank you and leave a printed copy of a previous case study so they can visualize the end product. Go into the details later with a follow up email and phone call.
5. Become a storytelling champion
As with any other initiative, the success that you’re going to experience with uncovering stories will be dependent upon the energy you put into it. That means you need someone to drive it. Your storytelling champion could be the business owner, the CEO or the marketing director. This person models what to do by sharing stories within your organization, and by training others to be on the lookout for story ideas.
Impact and insight from case studies
Two outcomes arise from your intentional efforts to find and tell your client stories with case studies. First there’s the impact. That’s the objective you’re going after. Your stories will build credibility, grow trust and close sales because you’ll be making a connection with the people you want to reach.
Then there’s the insight. This is something unexpected that you learn by hearing your clients talk about their experiences with you. Insights sometimes validate something you’re already doing, or they can knock you between the eyes with something you never would have thought about.
Contact me today and I'll walk you through the whole case study process, from finding stories and approaching clients, to publishing and promotion.