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1. Make sure you have a story to tell.
Once someone nominates a customer for a case study, find out whether or not there's a compelling story to tell. One suggestion is to create a backgrounder form to be filled out by anyone suggesting a case study candidate. At a minimum, you should gather the following information:
Once you understand the basic customer situation, compare it to your existing library of case studies (assuming one exists). Will this story complement the list or will it be largely redundant? Some considerations include the following:
If the story looks promising, make sure the customer is not only willing to be interviewed and to share ROI metrics, but that he or she has the green light to participate in a case study. While it's wonderful to have an enthusiastic advocate within the customer's organization, if the customer's marketing or legal department is not open to going public with details, there's no sense pursuing the story.
4. Prepare the customer.
There's a lot to be said for the element of spontaneity in an interview. After all, the most compelling stories are based on first-hand interviews and include plenty of customer quotes to move the story along. However, there's nothing more frustrating than starting an interview only to find out that the customer can't answer the questions.
To avoid this roadblock, send the customer a general set of questions ahead of time, perhaps as you're scheduling the interview time. This allows the customer to both decide if he or she is the appropriate interviewee, and to make sure all information (such as ROI metrics) is in hand during the interview.
5. Nail the interview.
The following tips will help you get the most out of an interview:
If you can give the customer a general idea of when you'll be sending the case study draft - and also get their commitment to a fast review and approval - the entire process should go quickly and smoothly. Don't forget to let the customer know if you'll need anything else, such as a boilerplate company description and logo file.
Case Study Checklist
Here's a handy checklist that summarizes these steps. Happy storytelling!
Stephanie Tilton has been immersed in the world of marketing for over 16 years, in roles as diverse as competitive analyst, marketing communications manager, and product marketing manager. Harnessing her unique blend of technical knowledge, marketing savvy, and writing skills, she has crafted winning communications for leading brands such as Akamai Technologies, EMC, Macromedia, Novell, SAP, and Symantec. Contact Stephanie directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.tentonmarketing.com for more information.
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