I’ve had a week filled with customer permission and approval issues. It’s often the toughest part of the case study process.
With one client, it became apparent that we needed a way to clearly communicate the details of the customer story process to the company’s customers to assist with permission and approval. Before moving ahead, featured customers need to know what’s involved and what’s in it for them.
We decided to create a one-sheet with the basics…
– What this is – a story highlighting the relationship between vendor and customer, and benefits
– The process
– How much of the customer’s time it takes
– How it will be used
– How it benefits the customer – this part might vary by customer, but it’s important to identify it for them
Then, be ready to send a sample story as well so everyone knows what to expect and what the end result looks like. Consider creating a similar one-sheet as you approach customers.
I have to admit I'm impressed. A client provided a detailed PPD - Product Positioning Document - for a project. I rarely see such organized documentation.
The PPD doesn't get nearly as much credit as it deserves. It answers all the questions I would typically ask my client about a product in order to start success stories or case studies:
- A description of the product
- The market situation
- Audience - types of industries and types of individuals
- Value proposition
- Pain points
- Competitive overview
Such rich information! This way, I don't have to track down my busy contacts on the phone before getting started on customer stories. Plus, when everyone works off the same doc, there's consistency all around.
When I'm ready to interview a customer, I know what type of information I'm after to ensure the story matches up with my client's goals.
Once created, the PPD saves time for all. If you're an organization, try to provide this information to your case study writer. If you're a writer, try to get these details out of your contacts.
Right now I'm creating a series of success stories for a telecom company. In discussions with them, it made sense to keep them to one page each. So how do you decide on length?
Audience is key. The company is targeting executive-level decision-makers who just want the big picture, an overview of the relationship the telecom provider has with its customers. They want to communicate one overriding message - that they are partnering together with customers to make customers' goals a reality. So, the customer stories very broadly show an overview of the relationship, more than the details of the technology solution.
This seems to be the general rule - less is more in case studies for executives. Meanwhile, day-to-day users prefer more information.
I'm curious, has anyone found exceptions to this?
Photos make customer stories much more engaging. But it can be tough to get quality shots of actual customer sites or consistent-looking head shots of customer contacts that are spread around the world.
Instead, try using an industry photo, one that represents the featured customer's business. Great-West Healthcare in Denver does this nicely on their customer success stories.
For example, for a case study on a company that makes ski resort chair lifts, the layout includes a skier at top. It's much faster and easier to get a professional-quality stock photo than asking for these from the customer, and it's a polished, attractive approach.
A friend of mine has a very compelling story to share. He built his business from the ground up in a pretty short time with a single lead-generation tactic.
The guy in this video did something that every business needs to pay attention to.
You can see the video here. No need to do anything; it will just start playing.
In this video, he shows how this approach worked for big-name companies (and how he got 60,000+ leads for his business).
He's actually giving away a bunch of high-quality videos.
Check it out: