How to Choose the Best Case Study Candidate

BY Holly Yoos
December 16, 2021

It might sound like an obvious question, but if you’re going to go to the effort of creating case studies for your marketing and sales teams, you want to make sure you select the right case study candidates.

Given that, which customers should you ask to participate? What makes a great case study candidate?

Often, it’s tempting to just ask customers that are top of mind—and that will likely agree to participate.

But those customers won’t always be your best choice.

Use these three questions to choose the best case study candidates:

  1. Is the story recent?
  2. Is the story positive?
  3. Does the story align with your case study strategy?

1. Is the story recent?

You want the customer success story to be recent enough that your customer remembers why they chose you as well as the most important details.

Your best client may have come to you three, five or ten years ago.

If they can’t remember the circumstances surrounding their decision to work with you (or if the person most closely involved in making the decision isn’t there any more), then the case study might not have all the detail you want.

Recent case studies

However, if you find yourself in this situation, not all hope is lost.

Sometimes you can still craft a great story, but you need to come at it from a different angle.

For example, we’ve used the COVID-19 pandemic as a framing device for several case studies over the past year.

These stories tend to go along these lines:

Company ABC was using Solution XYZ (and had been for years).  

Thank goodness they were—because when COVID-19 hit, they had to:

1) close their doors for months, or 

2) transition their in-the-field salesforce to remote work, or

3) maintain consumer interest in the midst of supply chain issues, or

4) etc., etc.

It’s a way of telling the story of a successful solution that might have been implemented years ago but became EVEN MORE critical in the moment.

Thus, lack of recency in a customer success story won’t necessarily kill it. But it can create challenges that will require a bit of ingenuity to overcome.

Want to avoid the problem of your customer success stories going stale before you get them written up or captured on video?

Build the case study ask into your onboarding process.

2. Is the story positive?

You’d be shocked at the number of times we’ve been brought into situations where our client’s customer has agreed to participate in a case study—but when we dug into the story, we found it was actually kind of negative.

And some customers were even thinking about leaving the client!

You want to make sure the experience of working with you was positive and relationship is good before you ask your customer to participate in a case study.

Positive case study experience

How can you be sure that the relationship is as strong as you think?

Take the temperature of the relationship in an objective way before you ask.

Customer feedback surveys, for example, are perfect for this.

They give the customer the opportunity to provide more honest feedback—making you less reliant on the perspective of the sales or implementation rep.

3. Does the story align with your case study strategy?

Whomever you choose to approach to participate in your case study, you want to make sure their stories are relevant to:

  1. The goals you’re trying to achieve with this study
  2. The roles you want to reach (e.g. CEO, CFO, marketing director, business owner),
  3. The industries you want to target.

Otherwise, you may walk away with a great case study, but it won’t get you closer to the types of clients you MOST want to land.

Relevant case studies

But what if you’ve just started to take your business in a new direction and have only landed one or two of those “ideal” clients?

No problem! That’s the perfect place to start.

Create some powerful case studies around those customer success stories and then leverage those studies to land even MORE of those types of clients.

This strategy is so powerful, it’s not unusual for companies to offer incentives to pivotal clients to participate in that first all-important case study.

They’re willing to put incentives on the table because they know it’s the jet fuel (and proof) they need to land even MORE of those clients.

Good Case Study Candidates = Good Case Studies

The more thoughtful and strategic you are in choosing your case study candidates, the better your case studies will turn out.

Which is reason for everyone to celebrate.

Successful case studies

Are your case studies missing the mark?

If you want to arm your marketing and sales team with relevant, powerful case studies that attract ideal customers and close deals, contact us to talk more.

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