By: John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

Having customers tell your company’s story is one of the most compelling forms of content marketing.  Research shows that case studies are the most effective form of content when trying to reach prospects later along the customer journey, at the stage of evaluation and purchase.

Though case studies are clearly valuable, our clients often tell us about their struggle to find customers willing to participate. Why?

  1. Organizations are focused on serving and satisfying clients, and they aren’t used to asking their customers to share their stories.
  2. Relationships may be strong in one area—at the sales level perhaps—but at the operational level, reality may be quite different.
  3. Case study programs require intention and structure to work well.

Our experiences with clients successfully cultivating case studies have three common denominators:

  • Relationships begin to be cultivated at the point of sale. Some of our clients have launched programs that are designed to invite their customers to share their experiences as a form of marketing. These programs work in two ways: They are set up to foster communication and address problems, as well as to gather success stories.
  • Marketing must be viewed as good marketing for customers, too. It must be a win for both you and your featured customer. We’ve written and designed profiles that not only told a success story about our clients, but also helped their customers better tell their own story. 
  • Communication between organization and client is continuous. Ongoing communications with existing customers is how companies successfully build and retain relationships. User conferences, regular check-ins and other digital communications help make the development of case studies easier.

How can you encourage potential customers to participate in case study marketing efforts? Here are five tips:

  1. Be intentional about developing relationships or programs that recruit customers long before you need their help.
  2. Make your featured customers the hero in your case study marketing efforts.
  3. Realize it can take weeks or months to fit into your customer’s busy schedule.
  4. Give the customer the ability to review the case study.
  5. Constantly look for potential case study participants.

Image: Getty Images

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