In Part 1 of this series, I talked about the importance of testimonials and “social proof” in marketing today, and explored a few best practices designed to help you identify your all-star customers and successfully interview them. In this installment, we’ll look at how to actually write a case study once you’ve completed those interviews and have the information you need.
Okay, I Have a Few Customer Quotes. Now What?
One of the biggest challenges in crafting an effective case study is translating the conversations you’ve had with a customer into a narrative that both accurately reflects your brand and showcases the results achieved by your services – while speaking to potential customers in a way that feels “real.”
Remember that you aren’t creating a piece of fiction here; you’re telling someone else’s true story, and it needs to done in a way that’s both accessible and relevant for your readers. A case study that reads like a sales pitch won’t perform nearly as well as a genuine-sounding customer testimonial. Don’t embellish or be misleading – there’s a reason you’ve asked a particular customer to provide a testimonial; let their results do the talking.
Organizing Your Information
As with any marketing or sales materials, proper organization of information is essential. Your prospects don’t want to read through a wordy 7-page testimonial to learn about someone’s success, nor do they want to watch a 20-minute video of someone explaining how great your services are (at least not in the early stages of the buying process).
In terms of formatting, take advantage of subtitles and headers throughout your case studies – these can help readers quickly identify which paragraphs and sections they’re interested in learning more about (and whether the testimonial as a whole is worth their time). The headers used in this blog post are good examples.
Similarly, take time to identify the important statistics and direct quotes you want to call out on the page – and make sure they aren’t buried somewhere in the middle of your case study. Leverage visuals, fonts and sidebar text to help draw the eye to where you feel the most important information is written.
The Introduction: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
The title of a case study is your first (and sometimes only) chance to convince someone that a customer’s story is worth reading. The best titles jump out and grab your attention, often with eye-catching metrics and impressive growth statistics – but they also need to provide some high-level context around what the reader can expect to learn about.
This becomes even more important over time. As you build out your case study library, having strong and unique titles for each testimonial will help potential customers determine at a glance which pieces they should be looking at. Here are a few title examples:
- [Customer Name] Improves Efficiency by X% Thanks to [Your Company Name]’s IT Support & Services
- Partnership with [Your Company Name] Helps [Customer Name] Save $X in Annual Revenue
- [Your Company Name]’s Backup Technology Helps [Customer Name] Recover From Massive Flooding
The Content: Letting Your Customer Do the Talking
Next comes the actual copy, and a good place to start is with a brief introduction of the company being profiled. Spend a sentence or two talking about their history, any unique markets or verticals they serve, and what problem they were hoping to solve that initially led them to your business.
Your first paragraph should really be an expansion of the title; when done successfully, it’ll act like an abstract of sorts – providing just enough information about both the problem and the solution to entice the reader to keep reading.
Here’s an example from one of our own Continuum partner success stories:
When Tim Martin established Neoscope Technology Solutions in February 2006, he had two customers and a desire to find the best remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool available. He demoed one customer with Continuum and the other on a different RMM. Before long, the winner was clear. The decision to go with Continuum helped Neoscope to catapult growth from zero to more than $100,000 per month in recurring revenue in just seven years.
From here, you’ll want to dive a bit more into the problems and challenges the customer was facing that led them to your business in the first place. This is where the narrative comes into play, and where you should focus on telling your customer’s story. What was the research process like? How many solutions were considered? How did they go about narrowing down the list of potential vendors, and what led them to eventually decide to do business with you? This is really the “body” of your case study, and should take a closer look at the key elements and data points that were outlined in your first paragraph.
The Conclusion: Continuing the Conversation
The conclusion is one of the most important parts in any partner success story – and it’s one that’s easy to overlook. A conclusion is about more than simply reiterating the facts or summarizing the benefits a particular customer enjoyed. Make no mistake, this information should be included – but the real value of a case study lies in its ability to facilitate a conversation with prospects.
An effective testimonial leaves the reader thinking “Wow, I’m impressed by how successful Company X has been after deploying solution Y. I’d like to learn more about how I can generate some of those same results at my company!”
When the opportunity to have a conversation arises, you need to be ready to seize it. Don’t be shy with your contact information – and don’t hesitate to put up a few sizable CTAs (calls-to-action) that give your readers a chance to engage directly with your sales team and start a conversation.
At the end of the day, your goal as an MSP is to help businesses solve problems – and your case studies and testimonials need to reflect that. To help you get started, we’ve created a fully-customizable template you can use to build out your own customer success stories. With the help of this template, and the insights and information in this blog series, you’ll be well on your way to creating powerful case studies in no time!
Download your case study template!
By Gretchen Hoffman