Have you ever used a B2B case study in your marketing? What kind of luck did you have in creating it? Is it capturing eyeballs?
I’ll cut to the chase: Interviewing and writing up a customer success story or B2B case study goes well when the customer contact is a clever person. And when the writer can get a story out of a rock.
With that combination, you don’t need to focus on your product or service. Your customer’s own words do that for you.
The clever customer and the B2B case study
We’ve interviewed customers at more than a dozen engineering companies for a series of case studies this year.
Life is like a box of chocolates with these people. Sometimes we get an enthusiastic small businessman, sometimes an M.D., sometimes a VP of engineering, sometimes a director of marketing.
The best content and the best case study experience has been with people smart enough to understand that we were after a real story, or at least a conversation we could turn into a story. Once they have that mindset, everything else falls into place. They lead us straight to the technology we’re trying to describe and the software tools of ours that they use. They give us the business and technical benefits we want to convey to the reader and even the images and diagrams we place in the final piece.
How do you identify a clever customer? That’s the hard part. There’s no guarantee that every company has somebody who can give you a good story. Sometimes you don’t even get much of a conversation.
That’s when it falls to the content marketing writer.
“I can get a story out of a rock.”
My old roommate, Arthur O’Donnell, used to say that whenever he had to coax interesting content out of uninteresting material (or people).
Here’s an analogy from the world of optics: If the interviewee is the light source, the writer is the prism who generates color from ordinary light. For a case study to go well, the writer needs to understand what the ideal reader wants to know, then be the prism.
In the series of case studies I’ve described, the audience consists of engineers. Engineers usually want to know the answer to one main question:
How did they do it?
It hasn’t been easy in this series of case studies, but we’ve managed to split ordinary light and answer that question with plenty of color in every piece.
It’s a matter of devoting a few paragraphs to explaining the technical problem; in this case, it’s in the area of chip design. Then we spend a few paragraphs on the story (and it really does have to be a story) of how the customer solved it using our tools.
Your B2B case study has to answer the simple question, “How did they do it?” When it does, then you don’t need to tell people how great your products are.
Your customers do it for you in the interview, and your readers catch on.