«return to Tip of the Month ListingThe #1 Faux Pas in the Customer Case Study

By Casey Hibbard

We’ve all been there, in a conversation with someone who only talks about himself/herself. You politely listen and ask questions, and the person asks nothing back.

After a while, you zone out because it’s a one-way dialogue.

In customer case studies, talking only about yourself is the equivalent of this social faux pas. After a bit, readers stop paying attention because your case study sounds just like all your other marketing materials.

Working with numerous companies over the years, I’ve seen the extremes: Some clients want to focus mostly on the customer while others want to focus mostly on their company. An effective case study lands somewhere in the middle.

Here are 2 reasons not to make it all about you…

  1. You’re wasting customers’ time
    If you reach out to feature a customer in a case study, the customer expects it to be largely about their journey and success. If the result is a case study that simply echoes your marketing materials, what’s the point for customers?

    A case study that highlights the customer’s path and success, and even includes key messages the customer wants to include, will sail through approvals much more easily. It’s the only way to make the case study valuable for both parties.
  2. You’re wasting your money
    If your case study sounds just like all your other marketing materials, why create one? Sure, you have the benefit of naming a happy customer publicly, but you’re not taking advantage of the unique format of the customer story.

How do you focus on the customer but still educate buyers about you?

Always do so in the context of the customer’s experience. Here’s an example. Instead of making statements about your product, like this…

“The ABC widget automates the process of responding to customer inquiries.”

…talk about what the customer is able to do now.

“Acme Manufacturing [featured customer] now responds to customers automatically, reducing the time to resolve customer issues. As a result, customer satisfaction scores have increased by 20 percent.”

It’s the difference between listing features and benefits like you would in a product overview versus showing a solution in action in a real customer’s environment.

Don’t miss out on the chance that case studies offer to highlight how your customer is a success. In a case study, it’s a given that you helped get them there.