Case Studies: What’s In Them for Your Customers?

Case Studies: What’s In Them for Your Customers?
Stephanie Tilton - Mon Apr 04, 2011 @ 11:00AM
Comments: 31

When it comes to producing case studies, two of the biggest challenges are identifying promising stories and getting customers to participate. Yet, according to a MarketingSherpa survey of nearly 1,000 B2B marketers, encouraging customers to submit testimonials and case studies ranked #2 of the most effective tactics for developing marketing content.

That said, there are good – and bad – ways to solicit customer stories. SAS – a technology company selling to other businesses – does a fantastic job of killing two birds with one stone by promoting and “selling” its customer reference program online.

Invite Participation

On its main customer success page, SAS invites customers to “share their success.” Once customers click on the link, they’re taken to an overview of the customer reference program. By soliciting customer participation in this way, SAS alleviates its sales organization of needing to continually identify case study candidates.


Focus on the Customer

At a high level, SAS focuses on what’s in it for the customer – for example, by “spotlighting your organization…and you” – and outlines the benefits of participating. In doing so, it offers the customer an incentive to participate, instead of making the customer feel as if SAS is the only one that will see value. 

Plan to Spread the Word

Next SAS spells out all the opportunities for getting the customer visibility, including media coverage, speaking engagements, and even applying for industry awards. I particularly like this statement: “By telling your story – the way you want it told – you give SAS the power to help you build recognition for yourself and your organization.” Equally impressive, it creates a communications plan detailing how it will get the word out. 

Set Expectations

To address common concerns about the level of time and effort required on the customer’s end, SAS spells out the process for both written case studies and video testimonials. It covers everything from how long the interview will last and what types of questions to expect, to what to wear for a video shoot and what happens after the interview. It also points customers to published case studies and videos so they can get a firsthand feel for them.

Change the Dynamics

The information that SAS shares on its site helps put customers at ease. But equally important, by detailing this on its website and inviting customers to submit their successes, SAS changes the dynamics by treating the process as a two-way street. And let’s face it, when customers voluntarily raise their hand to participate in a case study, you’ve likely got a great story on your hands.

Do you know of other companies doing a great job of getting their customers engaged in case studies and references? Have other suggestions to add? We'd love to hear from you!

About the author: Stephanie Tilton is a content marketing consultant who helps B2B companies craft content that nurtures leads and advances the buying cycle. You can follow her on Twitter or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B.

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Comments: 31


1. Jeff Ogden  |  my website   |   Tue Apr 05, 2011 @ 08:42PM

It's clear that SAS is creating customers stories the right way - asking, focusing on them, and having a plan to share the stories. Lots of companies could learn from this.

Jeff Ogden
Find New Customers

2. Barry Gay  |  my website   |   Wed Apr 06, 2011 @ 03:43PM

Thank you, Stephanie, for highlighting the SAS Success Story Program. We're especially grateful for the validation you've given to our best practices. Keep checking the website. We have some new ideas in the works.

Barry Gay
SAS Customer Success Stories

3. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Thu Apr 07, 2011 @ 06:06AM

Jeff - Thanks for stopping by.

Barry - I look forward to seeing the latest from SAS.

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