If someone you knew said, “Hey, I heard about this new carpet cleaning product. It’s pretty cheap and cleans up even the toughest stains”—that’s a GOOD story.
It includes the pain point (“the toughest stain”) and the solution (“new carpet cleaning product”).
If someone you knew said, “Take a look at my carpet. It had a red wine stain on it, and I used this cleaner to get it out. Now, it looks better than the day I bought it!”—that’s a GREAT story.
It includes the pain point, the solution AND a specific, personal example of the solution in action from a source you trust.
And so, the next time you need to remove a carpet stain, you might remember the name of the product and go buy it.
But the BEST story is when you have a red wine carpet stain that you need removed right now.
It looks terrible. Your in-laws are coming to visit next week. You’re desperate to get it out.
You mention your carpet problem to your friend and, in that moment of need, they share the above story with you.
In this case, you’re likely to rush out and buy the product that very second.
This story is the most compelling because it has urgency—it has an immediate need that needs to be met.
And when your case study interview subject describes that situation to you, you can bet you’re going to get some amazing quotes out of it!
Capturing customer quotes
Customer quotes that reflect all these elements are the gold standard of powerful storytelling.
Don’t get me wrong. The first two examples are good. But whenever possible, you want to chase that third example when looking for case study quotes and testimonials.
Let’s break down that last example some more:
Pain point = A wine stain on the carpet
Solution = Carpet cleaner
Specific example = Your friend had a wine stain on his carpet and used product ABC to get it out
Urgency = You have a wine stain on your carpet and your in-laws are coming to visit
Pain point + solution + specific example + urgency = golden quote
Now what would this look like for a SaaS case study, for example?
In one recent SaaS case study we completed, we uncovered this anecdote:
Pain point = Company XYZ’s sales platform was difficult to administer.
Solution = Company ABC’s sales platform is much easier to use and manage.
Specific example = Company XYZ’s platform was so complex, they had to regularly bring in third-party vendors to clean up the database. One time, the vendor accidentally merged a bunch of records that should NOT have been merged, deleting valuable information in the process.
Urgency = These kinds of mistakes were becoming more and more problematic and costly.
As you can imagine, the interviewee was really energized and engaged when relating this specific example. Her voice was filled with frustration.
Here’s one of the quotes we pulled out of that conversation:
“We lost those records and couldn’t get them back. I lost every communication I’d had with those contacts for the past six years. And I started to wonder what else had gone missing.”
Reading this quote—and imagining the situation—puts a pit in your stomach.
We also got this quote:
“I was really, incredibly, just wowed with [Company ABC platform]. I love the reporting functions and how user friendly everything is. It’s just easier. And that really got me.”
It’s one thing to say, “This was the problem. This is how we solved it.”
It’s another thing to say, “This was the problem. This is how we solved it. We were driven to take action because THIS crazy thing happened.”
Or, it could be: “This was the problem. This is how we solved it. Now that we’ve solved it, THIS amazing thing happened. ”
When you can get your interviewee to talk about THAT thing that happened, you know the quotes are going to be good.
When your interviewee talks about THAT crazy/amazing thing that happened, you know the quotes are going to be good.
Questions to ask for powerful examples
This may all sound well and good. But HOW do you pull these anecdotes out of your case study interviewee?
What questions should you ask?
You can use a couple different approaches:
1. Ask for examples or pose story-leading questions
- “Can you think of a time when that really held true?”
- “Tell me a bit about how that happened.”
- “What did that look like?”
- “What did/does that mean for ____________ (you, your company, your boss, the bottom line, your pain point)?”
- “Walk me through that a bit….”
- “Can you give me an example?”
2. Ask for analogies
This approach is a bit tougher but can yield big rewards.
- “What would you compare that to?”
- “How would you explain that to ___________ ?”
Great anecdotes lead to great quotes
It’s easy to “forget” to ask for anecdotes when interviewing customers for case studies. That’s understandable. When you’re pressed for time and have a lot of ground to cover, it’s tempting to just let those questions go.
But soliciting the little stories that lie behind the larger story are well worth the effort. They put things into concrete terms and elicit emotion.
Soliciting the little stories that lie behind the larger story are well worth the effort.
And, not incidentally, they often bring forth the best quotes and testimonials.
Facts are easily forgotten.
But stories that elicit emotion, and describe situations that people can relate to, will resonate with your customers—especially when it’s time to buy.
Need help capturing powerful quotes and testimonials you can use across your marketing channels?
Contact us to start the conversation.