Although case studies have always been popular, I have seen an increased interest in them lately. And, it's easy to understand why. If well-written, case studies are engaging and fun to read, and there is nothing like hearing how a customer uses and benefits from a product or service. It's no wonder that sales reps constantly request them, and marketing manager leverage them in so many ways.
However, as anyone who has tried to secure a customer for a case study knows, it can be really challenging to get an organization's permission. And, I think this is a crux of a common problem with case studies: If you have trouble getting stories, your inclination may be to make all of the stories relevant to as many people as possible.
But is this really the best approach? Does the audience of the case study really matter? Isn't it simply enough to have someone who is willing to go on record to let them world know how great your company is?
Well, if you follow my posts, you can guess my answer to this question: the audience for your story is key! You must absolutely consider this when developing your story as it will help you answer these six key questions.
Who should I interview?
Always interview someone who has a similar title or job responsibilities as the person you are targeting. It only makes sense: peers respond best to their peers.
What questions should I ask?
Different audiences care about different things. For instance, executive decision makers may care about ROI and cost savings, managers may want to understand the impact on productivity and end-users may be focused on usability. Your questions should be tailored to pull out information that readers will find relevant and compelling.
When should I ask for the story?
To figure out when it is best to ask for a story, consider the key points you want to call out. Continuing with the example above, if your audience is focused on hard-dollar cost savings, you will need to wait until your client has had time to use the product and realize such a benefit. However, if the story is focused on the end-user and how easy it is to use the product, you could ask for a story sooner.
How technical should the story be?
You need to use words that are familiar to your reader. End-users may respond well to technical specifics, but you should avoid this type of language with an executive decision-maker.
What format will work best?
Although most case studies are two-page pieces, there are one-page summaries and other longer formats. In general, executive decision makers gravitate towards shorter pieces and end-user like more details.
How should I promote the story?
There so are many ways to leverage user stories, and you want to focus your efforts on promoting stories where they will be found by your audience.
By understanding your audience and tailoring your story to a specific person, you can positively impact how the story is received.
Do you think it is critical to target your case study at a specific audience? What other things do you take into consideration when creating a case study for a certain audience?
- Case Study Basics - A Simple Formula for Sales Success: Kate Headen shares great guidelines to help you get started when crafting a case study.
- What do Technical Evaluators Get From Your Case Studies: A look at the specific information that technical prospects want in a case study (it's not that standard "problem-solutions-results" format); an insightful post by Stephanie Tilton.