Glance through any sales packet and you expect to find the same few pieces of paper like the company brochure, the salesperson’s business card and a case study. Any buyer knows the quality of these case studies vary from focused and scientific to wonky and speculative. I’ve even seen “case studies” that are merely an essay about a topic, pulling citations from various sources.
But, if you are an organization with a record of success, publishing a case study is possible. In fact, I’ll show you how to do three case studies in three weeks.
Week 1: Topics and Interviews
To publish three case studies in three weeks, you need to divide the work. First, you’ll need a writer (preferably someone with experience with transmedia storytelling). That person will be the one actually producing the case studies. Second, you need a final approver. This should be someone with the vision of how the case study can increase sales and the authority to sign off on the final product. Third, you need a coordinator. This person will help with scheduling interviews, compiling data and verifying facts. Working together, this team of three individuals can produce case studies in record time.
Warning! This process is intense.
First, you must pick three topics, based around three stories. The outcomes are the focus. So, make sure the stories clearly connect with that message.
Additionally, the topics should be core to your brand and easily relate back to your products or services. Try to avoid niche stories if you don’t want to increase that area of your business.
At this point, the writer will compile interview questions and begin an outline. Also, the coordinator will put together the data that backs up key aspects of the story.
Next, the interviews add a human element to the discussion. Each case study should work like a duet with a customer singing your praises while an employee adds harmony.
The interview starts with the customer’s pain point. They will explain why they were searching for a solution.
Next, your employee will explain how your organization provides the solution. This reveals your process and connects the company with both concrete methods and intangible values.
Finally, the story ends with a review of the outcome. The situation is resolved because your company provided the key benefit.
As you pick the customer and employee, it’s important to consider both the personality, role and character of the individual. You want people that will resonate with your audience and reflect well on your company over the long term.
Week 2: Writing and Review
After the interviews are completed and related data compiled, the writer should draft the three case studies. These should follow a clear narrative arc that an audience can recall. So, the message must be simple for optimum retention.
As the case study is drafted, the drama of the situation should unfold quickly. Essentially, the customer is the hero, the employee is the guide, the pain point is the monster and your product or service is the weapon.
Let your customer play the hero.
By putting your customer in the role of hero, the narrative will center on them. Thus, the benefits emerge naturally. Instead of your company lauding your benefits, your customer makes the connection between pain point and solution.
Also, this keeps your employee from awkwardly turning to the hard sell. They just need to provide insight into your methods. The satisfied customer is the salesperson.
The text of the case study should go to the approver for review at this point. Ideally, this should include notes (or a presentation) about how this message can be transferred into different forms.
For example, the long-form text can go into a web page as a eBook style download. But you could also make a summary blog post that teases the situation. Also, that blog post could use an infographic and a video to give some detail. Parts of that infographic could be broken up into smaller graphics and gifs to distribute on various channels like social media, email blasts, or digital advertising. Similarly, clips of the video can be promoted on video-friendly channels.
At this point, the reviewer should sign off on the long-form content and the concepts used to tell that story on various mediums.
Week 3: Media and Promotion
A week full of finalizing, this is where the content takes form. The writer will make any final tweeks to the story and enter full production. Then, the promotional methods must be lined up to support the launch of the published case study.
As mentioned above, the story will now take many forms. While the end goal is that people read the full document, multiple forms of content lead readers to that point.
You really need to know which format works best on which channel.
As each channel is identified and confirmed, the case study should be formatted to suit that platform. So, that means a video for YouTube, a presentation for SlideShare and so on…
Now that all the elements have been created, they should be put in place and scheduled. Ideally, you can put some dollars behind the publishing through search engine marketing, social media adspend and ads in local publications.
Now, when you hit “Publish” you are doing more than just launching three new case studies. You have a plan in place to promote each one in the appropriate space.
Are You Ready?
Does this plan sound like a lot of work? That’s because it is. The writer, reviewer and coordinator will be working very hard over three weeks to get these ready to launch.
However, the strict focus on the process allows you to launch some deep content for a huge impact.
If your organization can’t put aside resources to only focus on case studies for several weeks, the process will still work. You just need to spread out the tasks for a couple of hours a day between other projects. Additionally, hiring outside help can speed the process along. It’s always easier to edit a document than start from scratch!
If you want to know more about publishing a case study, let me know. Let’s work together to create this valuable sales and marketing tool for your group!