In the first of our five-part series on impactful case studies, we looked at how to identify the stories worth pursuing. Once you have identified a strong case study, it’s time to capture the story. Regardless of how a case study is going to be published, you need to capture the story in writing, through a series of interviews and content capture.
Remember, you are capturing and telling a story about your brand. So, as you capture the story, keep these tips in mind.
- Format: Determine a consistent format for your case studies and build your content-capture process around this format. For instance, most brands use a format similar to the following:
- Background: What is the company and what does it do?
- Challenge: What problem are you trying to solve?
- Solution: How did you solve the problem?
- Results: What is the proof of success?
- Questions: Develop a list of consistent questions to ask internal and customer contacts. And make sure they are open-ended questions that elicit good answers, not “yes” and “no” questions. Some good questions include:
- Tell me about why you hired us, the problem you were facing.
- What were some of the specific challenges of this project?
- How were we able to help solve your problem?
- Talk about working with our team or using our product; what was it like?
- Can you please share with us some of the results to date from this project?
- Overview: Capture an overview of the story from someone on your team who has worked on the project. Often a salesperson or account executive has the best overview and can also help identify customers to interview. If possible, capture the facts of the story from your internal team, then use the customer interview to provide a good quote, specific insights, compliments and results.
- Author Involvement: If possible, include whomever is going to write your case study in the interview and content-capture process so they can best tell the story.
- Interview: Set up an interview with key customer contact(s), ideally having the person with the closest customer relationship assist in arranging the interview. Make sure the interviewee has a clear understanding of the purpose so they can be prepared. Provide them questions in advance to help gather better info. Streamline the interview process by asking only questions that you can’t answer yourself. For example, don’t ask them about company background—you can get that from their website. Spend your time with them diving into the details of the project.
- Recording: If possible, record the customer interview. High quality is not important (unless you are planning to publish the audio), but it is helpful to have a recording to review content, if necessary. In-person interviews can be recorded using phone apps, and virtual interviews can be recorded on phone systems or virtual meeting platforms (Teams, Zoom, Webex). If you do record, be sure to ask for permission before recording.
Next up: part three in our series on case study best practices, when we unpack tips for capturing imagery.