As marketers we get asked to write all kinds of documents, but case studies are particularly painful for most of us. They’re tough to schedule, they take a long time to finalize and the field is always clamoring for more. In fact, you can never have enough according to sales. Even if you have a willing, able and interesting customer, case studies are difficult to push through to completion by no fault of the writer, instead is the approval requirements and historical approach which makes it tough. Even if you are lucky enough to get a written case study complete and signed off by a customer, you have to wonder “will sales actually use them once they are done?”
While sales is always looking for new and interesting leave behinds, many times case studies just don’t fit the bill once complete. With differences in industries, the product deployment mix and other factors it’s difficult to get an “exact match” this is often what sales is hoping for – a document which closes the deal because it fits the prospects scenario perfectly. Sometimes we can get real close though, but even when the implementation stars align they still may not be used in the field. Main driver is our case studies are many times fact free, devoid of numbers and generally represent a feel good piece about your product or company which doesn’t help a prospect to decision anything or discern why they should further evaluate your product/solution.
Good News Sales Has Some Case Study Candidates!
The typical case study process starts with a sales feedback session and as you would suspect – they need more stuff, not just the potential case study from the potential customers for the case study, but they will use that time to give you a laundry list of items while they have you. We can always debate if they ACTUALLY need more stuff, but the general reality is “why wouldn’t you want more case studies anyhow?”, right? After all, sales is kind enough to give you a handful of companies to talk to, but 99% in the list can’t do one due to some corporate policy or some other reason like being too busy, but if you are lucky you can find that one which says “yeah we can do a case study if you want”.
It may not be the one you wanted, it’s in a corner case industry for your product, but it’s the one you got and the next time you talk to sales it’s like: “Victory! We have a case study in progress and we are working with the customer”.