3 Reasons Why You’ve Got a Bad Case of Bad Case Studies

This post was written by John White on Mon, 16 Nov 2009 12:21:51 +0000
Posted Under: case studies,ideal reader,interviewing customers,process of writing

transcribe-webinar-case-studyCase studies can be low-hanging fruit for the marketing manager, but it’s easy to get them wrong and end up with ineffective content posing as a case study.

“I’ve got a series of webinars that are recorded interviews with customers,” the director of marketing said. “I want to have the webinars transcribed, then turn the transcripts into case studies.”

Great idea in principle. The customer has said good things about the product, we’ve recorded it, and the recording is ripe for pulling straight into a case study, right?

There are three things wrong with this idea, though:

  1. The customer is not necessarily “on message.” Some customers think that the story is really about them, or some kind of “partnership” piece that trumpets their business, but it’s not about their business. It’s about their technology and how your product helps advance it, and your product may not be prominent enough in the transcript. Better: Have your marketing communications writer modify the transcript so that it does support your message. At the very least, use headers and subheads as signposts along the road you want the reader to follow.
  2. The content first needs to be tailored to the ideal reader. The webinar audience has a different focus from that of the written case study audience. Your customer could go on for several hundred words about a business or technology situation; dropping that content into a case study is not the best way to tailor it to that would be better summarized in half a written paragraph. Better: Have the writer pour the transcript through the filter of your ideal reader. Separate the points that will appeal to him in writing from those he’d tune out if he were listening to the webinar.
  3. Transcription is an inefficient way of doing almost anything in marketing. It might work for court reporting, but in this context, you’re just taking the mix of wheat and chaff from an audio file and putting it into text. It still needs to be distilled to satisfy points 1 and 2 above. Better: Have the writer listen to the webinar and pull out the useful bits himself. It makes for a better built story.

So, if you do have a full transcript, what’s the best thing to do with the eight or ten thousand words it yields? Hire a writer with the expertise to chop them up and use them for SEO bait on your Website. This content is rich in the kind of keywords for which you want to be found, so use it that way. Just don’t expect it to be compelling, attractive content right out of the can.

John White of venTAJA Marketing posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it.

photo credit: Joe Mabel

Reader Comments