A Case Study, But You Can’t Name the Client

Case study, but you can't name the client

“This is perfect for a case study!” you exclaim.

Your cornerstone client has just told you how much they like your product or service. They can’t stop talking about how much more profitable it has made their company this year.

Reflexively, you envision a 1,000-word case study that tells the world (and all your prospects) that you’ve just saved Reuters or Deutsche Bank or the Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company 35 jillion dollars.

Case study buzzkill

But it’s not allowed.

Your client:

  • doesn’t grant endorsements or permit vendors to use its name in customer success stories;
  • won’t do a joint press release with you, or allow you to use its name in a unilateral release;
  • is likely to run your case study through a spanking machine of attorneys that will leave it insipid and banal;
  • is elusive and won’t give you the interview or quotes you need for a real, live case study;
  • doesn’t want anybody to know it had a 35-jillion-dollar hole to plug up; or
  • wants to keep you and your technology in its back pocket as a “secret weapon.”

This makes your job as marketing manager a bit tougher, doesn’t it?

Try a caselet.

Caselets are brief case studies that describe your service or technology, the problem it solves and the benefits that could be enjoyed by “a worldwide provider of [your customer’s industry goes here].” We relied on caselets in the early days with one of my B2B technology clients for a simple reason: We had plenty of technology and target markets, but no customers yet.

Instead of interviewing your customer, you interview your own in-house resources: engineers, product managers, account executives. They’ve been close to the customer’s business situation and understand how your product has been and could be beneficial. You’ll end up with slightly less detail (and no legitimate quotes) than in a real case study, but it’s still useful. A good caselet is a triumph of the sizzle over the steak.

And, don’t forget your original intention: you want to tell readers a story about your services. You want them to see their own predicament and begin to envision a solution to it. If your marketing writer has done a good job on the caselet, the fact that you can’t mention Pepsi or the Vatican or The New York Yankees does not get in the way of the story.

Interested? Good caselets are just a few hundred words — less than two pages. The sales team eats them up, and they help you tell your story.


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”