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02 September 2011

Success Stories aka Case Studies

This time we're looking at Success Stories, which are also known as Case Studies. You'll see these on most websites usually right next to the option to either download a white paper or go to the white paper section of the website.

Success stories are just exactly what they sound like: the client / customer has a problem, you help with client / customer with your product or service to solve the problem, client / customer problem solved and their clients and customers are happier, their sales are better, or whatever the clients / customers definition of success for the issue was accomplished. 

Success stories are STORIES which everybody loves to hear. I think it's some kind of innate human quality that loves to hear stories. As a trained hypnotherapist, I can tell you that stories speak to us on a subconscious level. They speak to our inner child, the part of us that loved stories as a kid and the part of us that learns from stories. Stories speak to our soul, and that's why nearly every marketeer out there will tell you to frame your marketing materials in a story form if at all possible. Success stories do just that and they star someone with a similar problem to your prospects.

Start the success story using a benefits-oriented title, concise client / customer quote, and a summary of the benefits. Include photos and/or video if possible. Human factors engineers have verified we respond better to things that have faces, even if it's just a smiley face on the computer screen.

Here's the quick list, then below we'll go into details about each item. 

  • Title
  • Client / Customer Quote
  • Benefits Summary
  • Tell the Story 
  • Emphasize the main benefit.
  • Use action verbs.
    (For example: improves, reduces, streamlines, etc. Writing in active voice regularly helps keep these verbs in the front of your mind.) 
  • Keep it short.
Client / Customer Quote
  • Include a concise, benefits-oriented quote, ideally 20 words or less. 
  • Make it sound like dialog, and request permission to attribute  the quote to a high-level exec (include the name, title, and company with it).
    This can usually be handled via e-mail, then the person you're attributing the quote to can easily make it their own. 
  • Focus on results, benefits, and overall satisfaction, not what was done or how it was done. (What and How can be addressed in the white paper and data sheet.) 
Benefits Summary
  • Highlight the key qualitative and quantitative benefits in a few concise bullet points at the beginning of the doc.
Tell the Story 
In this part, use interesting subheads to help guide the reader. 

  • Describe the general challenge, problem, issue, or opportunity faced. Keep it short and down to a few sentences.
  • Smoothly transition to a description of the specific challenge, problem, issue, or opportunity this specific client / customer faced.
  • Remember to define terms readers may not be familiar with.
  • Describe the solution.
    First discuss the specific solution for the specific problem the client / customer faced. Then smoothly transition to a description of the more general ways this solution can solve industry problems, issues, respond to regulatory requirements, or take advantage of business opportunities. 
Finish Strong 
Finish strong with the benefits of the solution. 
  • Provide more information on the benefits of the solution. Remember to map the benefits back to the topics discussed in the problem section to close the loop for the reader.
  • If the benefits are quantified, describe the assumptions (including any financial ones) and methods used to calculate them. This helps clarify for the readers how the benefits were determined.
  • Provide contact information (name, phone, e-mail, and website).  
That's it! Sounds easy, doesn't it? :)  Now you have a checklist to make sure all the elements are there the next time you have to whip up a success story.

Until next time,