«Return to Blog List Case Studies: Start with the Story’s End


Every day, we encounter new stories – on TV, in books, movies and magazines, and in discussions with others.

Nearly all of them build toward an end result, which isn’t clear until you arrive there.

But in marketing, leading with the outcome gets the attention of distracted audiences.

Just this past week, Richard Fouts of Gartner presented the webinar, “How to Tell Better Marketing Stories.”

In it, he offered three tips for telling stories well, with “start with the end of the story” as #1.

Here’s an example:

If you saw the movie “Memento,” you know that it famously starts with the end (a gory scene) before taking you on a wild ride to see how that end came about.

This technique works beautifully in customer case studies and success stories, but applied slightly differently (and with no gory outcome).

Here are two ways to lead with the end result in your customer stories:

The headline

Use your top headline to reinforce the most significant and important result that the customer achieved.

Let’s look at a few sample headlines that showcase the end result…

“Sprint Nextel Grows E-mail Volume 30% in 2009 – and Maintains High Performance”

“Time Warner Cable Fills Revenue-Generating Jobs in Half the Time”

“Consumer-Driven Plan Saves Employer up to $75,000 Annually”

All three headlines spill the story’s end to the audience right at the start. Then, just like Memento, the case study goes into how that came about.

An Intro Summary

In longer magazine features or even the evening news, the story often kicks off with a brief summary of what’s to come – usually only a few sentences.

For each of its case studies, Microsoft includes a summary just under the headline, before the body copy starts.

Keep it short and to the point. Ideally, mirror the rest of the story in that single paragraph by briefly mentioning the main challenge, how it was solved and the

biggest benefit the customer experienced.

An example of the intro summary on a case study, from Microsoft

Jelly Belly Candy Company has experienced rapid growth over the last decade, as the company expands into new geographies and product areas. The company installed an ERP system in 2007 and began work on a project for an accompanying customer relationship management system. However, after 18 months of work, Jelly Belly decided to abandon the project and look for a more stable system that would meet its core requirements more effectively. Working with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Webfortis, Jelly Belly implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM in two-and-a-half months, meeting core requirements, such as integration with the ERP system and creating a single view of customer information across the company. Jelly Belly uses the solution to strengthen relationships with customers and has reduced customer churn by at least 34 percent and added U.S.$60,000 each month in sales.

Do you “start with the end” in your case studies and success stories? Any other ways besides these two examples?

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