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Work the System to Create Case Studies

I have a few business books that I re-read often to refresh my knowledge and reinforce my commitment to their concepts.

“Work the System” by Sam Carpenter is one of those books. I don’t want to spend a lot of time describing the book. You can read the synopsis or grab a free copy to dig deeper.

But I do want to share with you a business-building system, inspired by the book, that we recently implemented at MarketVolt.

I often preach the importance of including testimonials and case studies in your marketing mix. But I wasn’t practicing what I preached. We published case studies rarely — when the thought occurred to us and when we had the time to get around to it.

After re-reading the book, I implemented a system at MarketVolt to systematize how we plan and publish case studies.

I’d like to share the system basics with you for two reasons 1) To demonstrate how easy it is to design and implement systems for your business and 2) To give you a system you can apply to publish more and better case studies. This will help your business grow.

Here’s a summary of the steps. 

Step 1: Design a case study template. We used to wing it each time we wrote a case study. Now we have a format we can repeat. We visited dozens of websites to review case studies and consider our options. We settled on a template that includes four sections: The Client, Primary Goals, The Solution and The Results. We keep it concise. We focus on outcomes. Here’s an example.  

Step 2: Identify candidates. Ever three months, we build a list of clients who would be good candidates for case studies. Our marketing team meets with our customer support and sales representatives to identify clients who are especially happy with our products and services and who are generating strong results. We aim to publish two case studies per month. Every three months, we add 10 candidates to the list so we have a surplus. 

Step 3: Ask. We reach out to those candidates and ask whether they’d be willing to be the subjects of a case study. We have a simple telephone script and email we use to guide the request. We find that the email will suffice for most clients, but in some cases, it takes a phone call. 

Step 4: Survey. For clients who say, “yes,” we offer two options: Complete a quick online survey or we’ll call you for a quick interview. If we call, we use the survey as our script for the interview. We publish the survey as a Google form (simple to build and edit and free to host). Here’s a link to the survey.

Step 5: Review the survey/interview responses and contact the client to ask followup questions if necessary. About half the time, the client nails it the first time. But we often have to follow-up. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper. Ask them to elaborate. Ask them to address topics you think would be good to include. Most clients are happy to oblige. 

Step 6: Write the case study by filling in the blanks in the pre-defined template. The template makes it much easier to produce the case study than if you were working from scratch. We usually have a marketing intern write the first draft. The real trick is to keep it concise while not omitting key points. 

Step 7: Share the case study draft with the client. We consider this a nice courtesy, plus we’ve found that the client often will add something that makes the case study even better. When you send the case study to the client, ask for feedback. Ask them if they’d like to add anything. 

Step 8: Publish the case study on the website and share the link on social media. We usually frame these posts as a shout-out to our client — an expression of gratitude. On Facebook, where we can write longer posts, we will note lessons learned. 

Step 9: Send the link to the client and encourage the client to share it on social media. Your clients have many followers who may not know you. This is marketing gold for you. 

This system is something we can easily teach and repeat. We have each step built into our marketing team’s calendar, and we outline instructions for this — and all other systems — in our company intranet. We can quickly and easily delegate responsibility for this system to anyone who’s qualified to manage it. Ultimately, that means we produce better case studies, more often, with less headache and hassle than ever before.

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