Selling Your Customers on Case Studies

The whole point of a case study is to help you sell more of your stuff. You know it, I know it, and your customers know it. But, why should your customers care about helping you sell more stuff? They shouldn’t, and in fact, they probably don’t care. They have their own stuff to sell, and rather than waste valuable time talking to you, they’d prefer to focus on their own business. In other words, they have 99 problems, but your case study isn’t one.

To fix this, you have to sell your customers on the idea of a case study. You have to make it seem like it’s worth their while by giving them a clear idea of what they’ll get out of it. This could be a monetary offer—like a gift card or cash—but this is not a standard practice for customer reference teams. Besides, it feels a little… shady, to say the least.

The Bait: Publicity and Thought Leadership

For most companies, there are two juicy pieces of bait that are far more effective: free publicity and thought leadership. When you reach out to potential references, let them know that completed case studies are featured on your website, as well as press releases and other marketing materials. Many companies will jump at the chance to drum up some good low-effort, high-quality publicity.

However, publicity isn’t always the best draw, particularly when your customers are much bigger or more well known than you are. What does a mega corporation get from being featured by your relatively tiny, unknown company? Here’s where the opportunity for thought leadership may be more convincing. If a company is huge and has a reputation for being slow and stodgy (as many huge companies do), case studies can help show how visionary it is by switching to innovative providers like you.

You should plant these seeds from the get-go. When you do your initial outreach, mention how participating in a case study with your company is a great opportunity for free publicity and/or how it will allow them to demonstrate industry leadership. If you frame it like this, investing time in a case study seems like a no-brainer; it’s a win-win for both you and the customer.

Hey, you know what might come in handy right about now? A sample case study outreach email! My DIY Case Studies Kindle book has one, and a bunch of other sample materials too.

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