This article will help you solve an annoying problem I know many of you face: getting more customers to agree to case studies.
For this method to work, you’ll have to adjust how you write case studies.
The method isn’t difficult. I’ll show you exactly how I do them below (examples included).
The short version of this article is this:
- Stop asking: “Could we write a case study about you?”
- Start asking: “Could we feature you in an article on our blog?”
People say “yes” to that second request far more often than they do to the first.
I’ve done this successfully with dozens of customers, and it works exceptionally well.
- Why it works
- How to do it well
- Example case studies I’ve written or worked on
- How “hero case studies” differ from traditional case studies.
Note: Need remarkable content for your B2B blog? Get in touch and let’s see if we’re a good fit.
Why Customers Say ‘No’ to Case Study Requests
Several years ago, I was working with a company that was trying to get more case studies.
We made a lot of asks, and we heard a lot of this:
- “We’re not interested”
- “We just installed it”
- “We’re not sure we’re ready to be a testimonial.”
I’m sure some of you can relate.
If you step back from your own needs for a moment, you can start to understand why customers give these kinds of responses.
A traditional case study follows a tried-and-true format:
- Company has a problem
- Company finds a solution (your product)
- The results are awesome.
In the traditional format, the hero of the story is your product or service.
So ask yourself: If you’re going to make your product the hero of the story, what’s in it for a customer to say “yes” to your case study request?
The answer is: not much. Some people will agree just because they’re polite and don’t like to say “no.”
But that’s about all you have going for you in this situation.
It’s why companies revert to discounts and incentives — bribing customers to get case studies.
But what if you could change that?
What if people were absolutely delighted when you asked for a case study?
When I Was a Journalist, No One Ever Turned Me Down for a Feature
I’m a former journalist.
I spent two years working at a community newspaper, where I wrote a lot of feature articles.
Here’s a fact:
People loved being profiled in the newspaper.
No one ever said no when I asked to feature them in a story. Ever.
They adored being asked about their life and their stories. I couldn’t get many of them to stop talking once we got into the interview.
Note: Want your customers to open up to your business? Contact me here.
What’s the Difference?
Why is this?
Why were people so excited to be featured in a newspaper article?
Answer: In my newspaper articles, the person I interviewed was the hero of the story.
Getting featured made them feel great. They were proud of their story and they looked great in front of friends and family.
Prestige. Pride. Respect. Feelings of accomplishment.
These emotions are powerful motivators.
Wouldn’t you feel special if a newspaper or magazine asked to do a story about you?
Of course you would!
People Will Love Being Featured on Your Blog Too
Forget asking for “case studies.” In fact, don’t mention the words “case study” at all.
Instead, ask this:
- “Could we feature you in an article on our blog?”
It’s that simple.
When I made this change a few years ago, people immediately started saying “yes” to my requests.
In fact, they started reacting the same way people used to react when I was a reporter.
They felt like the hero of their story, and they were delighted, flattered, and excited to share their experiences.
I admit that not everyone says yes. So it’s not quite like it was when I worked at the newspaper. They still know I’m working with a marketing department, so they know I have an agenda.
Even so, way more people say “yes” today compared to the requests I made a few years ago.
How to Write Hero Case Studies
Forget: Problem → Solution → Result.
Instead, the format is this:
- Accomplishment → Steps taken
Writing a hero case study requires you to think like a journalist instead of a brand manager.
In fact, if you can, try not to let your brand manager do the interview for these kinds of articles.
Brand managers are just too into the product. Which is not a bad thing — brand managers should be obsessed with the way customers use your product.
But to do hero case studies well, you must have someone who can be objective, someone who acts like a journalist: focusing on the customer’s story first, not your product or service.
Your product or service becomes a natural part of the story, which (believe it or not) gives your product more credibility than it would in a traditional case study.
Note: Need a trained journalist to find the story that makes your product or service shine? Contact me here and let’s start finding your heroes.
Hero Case Studies Work Amazingly Well Across the Sales Funnel
One more thing about hero case studies vs. traditional case studies.
Traditional case studies work great for later-stage sales conversations. They’re perfect for that point where a prospect starts asking for proof of your claims.
But traditional case studies don’t work nearly as well at the top of the funnel. They don’t go viral or get shared around offices. They’re too self-promotional.
Hero case studies, by contrast, are great at the top of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel.
Think about magazines like Entrepreneur or FastCompany — those are full of articles that look just like the ones we’re talking about.
In fact, if you have a good PR strategy, its entirely possible to place hero case studies in trade publications or as guest posts for blogs and online magazines.
Try doing that with a traditional case study and see how far you get.
Hero case studies also work just as well in bottom of the funnel — because they still illustrate a specific use case from a customer.
Examples of Hero Case Studies
Here are a few examples of hero case studies so you know the kind of story I’m talking about.
- How ‘The Great War’ Co-creates Its Hit YouTube Show with the Help of a 700,000+ Member Audience
- How ConvertKit Grew from $98k to $625k MRR by Doing 150 Webinars in 1 Year
- Andrew Berger Built Square’s Sales Organization. Here’s His Advice on How to Motivate a Sales Team
See how each one makes the person being profiled the hero of the story?
What We Charge for Articles Like These
If often get asked: “How much do you charge for these?”
For more on that, let me point you to this article, which describes our process and what we usually charge for projects, including hero case studies:
Did I Miss Anything?
I hope the approach to case studies I’ve detailed here is helpful to you. It certainly has been for me.
With that said, I certainly don’t know everything.
If you have a method for getting case studies that is working wonders for you, let me hear about it in the comments!
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