Customer interviews can be low-hanging fruit for the marketing manager. But it’s easy to get them wrong and end up with bad case studies.
“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?
Bad case studies are easy.
There are three things wrong with that idea:
- 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. If the transcript mentions your product only in passing, then there’s not much in it for you. 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.
- The content needs to appeal to the ideal reader. The audience that was listening when the transcript was made has a different focus from the readers of your case study. If your customer droned on for several hundred words about his business or technology situation, that’s a recipe for boring your readers. Better: Have the writer pour the transcript through the filter of your ideal reader. Keep the points that will appeal to him in writing and back-burner the ones he’d tune out if he were listening to the webinar.
- 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. Your writer still needs to distill it 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.
What to do with the transcript?
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 carve out a solid case study. Then, use the rest of the text for amplification and social posts pointing back to the case study. That text is rich in the kind of keywords you want your ideal reader to find, so use it that way.
Just don’t expect that the entire transcript will automatically be compelling content right out of the can.
photo credit: Joe Mabel