How many case studies do you have in your marketing portfolio?
A compelling case study is an excellent marketing tool, but they are not always easy to create. Here are 7 steps I use with each case study I write:
Step 1: Get a client to agree.
The first challenge is getting a client to agree to be interviewed. Everyone is busy. Some companies don’t want to reveal their secrets. Some people just get nervous.
I like to tell the client that I only need 30 minutes of their time - a 20 minute phone call then 10 minutes to review and approve the final draft. And I tell them about the great free publicity for them if Microsoft picks up on their story. (Hey, you never know.)
Once they agree, I need to make sure that I know exactly what I will ask them, in order to keep the interview short and still get the information I need.
Step 2: Interview the Project Manager.
The first step is to interview the project manager at YOUR company that worked with this client. You need to get the full scoop, prior to your call with the client. Ask them to review the project with you, the pain points, the implementation, the benefits. Even ask about things that went wrong, so you are not caught off guard. And ask about the personality of the person you will be interviewing.
Step 3: Decide on a main theme.
Then you need to decide what you want the MAIN theme of the case study to be. For example, ““I want to focus on how easy we are to work with” or “I want to focus on the fact that Dynamics is a stable system” or “I want to focus on the fact that we are customization experts”or “I want to focus on the fact that we took an existing system and improved it.” In my experience it is best to just focus on one main theme, one main marketing message per case study. Consult with the sales team to see what messages they are trying to convey to prospects and where they could use this case study as extra proof.
Step 4: Interview the client.
Now you are ready to interview the client. I highly recommend that you record the phone call. There is no way you can take notes fast enough and remember their direct quotes. I use www.freeconference.com and pay a small fee for recording. Then I may use www.speak-write.com to get a transcription of the call.
These are the 13 core questions I will ask the Dynamics client:
1. What do you tell people when they say “what does your company do?”
2. What industry is your company in and approx. size?
3. What software system were you using before? How long?
4. What pain points/challenges were you experiencing before choosing Dynamics? What prompted your search for a new ERP/CRM system? Be as detailed as possible.
5. What systems did you evaluate?
6. How did you find the Dynamics partner?
7. Why did you choose Dynamics over other packages? (be as detailed as possible)
8. Why did you choose your partner over other partners? (be as specific as possible)
9. What is the biggest benefit you have received from using Dynamics?
10. What would be three other benefits you’ve found from using the product and working with your partner?
(If possible, try to identify any quantifiable business benefits such as “it now takes 2 days to close the month instead of 5 days” or “we reduced a 15-click process to a 2-click process”.
11. Would you recommend Dynamics and your partner to other companies, why?
12. What are your future plans with Dynamics?
13. Is there anything else you would like to tell me about your experience?
Sometimes people are reluctant to talk, so it does take some skill to draw them out. Commend them often and put them at ease. Usually it is at the very end of my call, at question #13, that the client will suddenly remember some incredible piece of information that is a piece of gold. Drawing out quantifiable benefits can be especially difficult, but oh so worth it when you get a good one.
Step 5: Write the case study.
Now it is time to write the actual case study. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to include ALL the great information you got on the call. Keep it simple and easy to read. Remember that the prospect who will be reading this has a short attention span.
Step 6: Get final approval from the client.
It is good business etiquette to show the final draft of the case study to the client so they can give final approval before it is published. Sometimes they will want to change the way their company name appears, or improve a quote attributed to them.
Step 7: Publish and market the case study
Now comes the fun part, it is time to publish and promote the case study. Check out this post for some specific ideas: 10 Extra Ways to Use Microsoft Dynamics Customer Case Studies
I have written case studies for Dynamics ERP, Dynamics CRM and SAP partners. Even though there are only 7 steps, it is not as easy as it looks. It takes skill to draw out the right information during a phone call. And it takes skill to organize and write the information into a good marketing piece. But a solid case study can be used in so many ways, for years to come.
On the CAL Business Solutions site, we have built up a large library of Dynamics GP case studies that we regularly send to clients, depending on the specific scenario. When you can show a prospect that you have solved the same problem for a company similar to theirs, you are much closer to closing the deal.
So use these tips and take the time to write a collection of killer case studies for your Dynamics business.
By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing
Follow me on Twitter: @AnyaCWMktg