«return to Tip of the Month ListingCase Studies 2.0: Borrowing Big-Screen Storytelling Skills

By Casey Hibbard

Whether it’s slaying a dragon or conquering lagging sales, stories of overcoming adversity hook audiences and keep them tuned in. It’s why just about every epic book or movie follows a similar narrative format…

• A hero faces a challenge, and ventures forth to take it head on
• The hero gains wisdom or tools from a mentor
• The hero comes out victorious and wiser for the journey
Now swap “hero” for “customer,” and “mentor” for a vendor’s solution and you’ve got a customer case study that borrows the world’s greatest narrative arc.

In my last blog post, I detailed this storyline, called the Hero’s Journey. But what does that look like in actual case studies, especially where you’re featuring businesses? It’s all about the people at the heart of the story, even in business-to-business case studies.

For ideas on how to craft case studies this way, check out three examples with a Hero’s Journey approach:

1. Yammer
In this case study featuring Yammer, created by Anecdote, Yammer’s Director of Customer Success had just 10 minutes to communicate a crucial message to an audience of 200 – a room full of Microsoft Black Belts. The story details how Ursula not only got her message across but she left her audience wanting more; in fact, they requested an impromptu follow-on session from her for later that day.

Take a peek at the Yammer case study.

2. Cisco
Cristina Melluzzi, Head of Customer Advocacy EMEAR at Cisco, grew tired of scrambling to find an appropriate customer reference every time someone needed one. This success story, created by Influitive, details how Cristina created an advocate marketing program from scratch, and overcame challenges along the way – including getting buy-in from leadership.

For inspiration, check out the Cisco case study.

3. Prairie Street Brewhouse
A little winter weather was no match for an Illinois property manager. He saved the day when – despite being out of town – he could see from video footage on his phone that the parking lot needed to be cleared of snow before customers began arriving. Although he was several states away, he mobilized his team so the parking lot was clear and safe in time for the lunch crowd.

See the Hero’s Journey in action in the Prairie Street Brewhouse case study.

Try it for Your Next Case Study

Why aren’t more case studies written this way? It’s not more difficult, yet many organizations are resistant. It simply doesn’t sound very corporate. But what’s different stands out, and few narrative approaches are as timeless and proven as this.

Why not try it for your next case study? If it works for Harry Potter and Star Wars, it just might succeed in swaying a CIO or VP.