A few years back I was visiting a regional distribution center and prep kitchen outside of Dallas for one of the country’s leading pizza chains. The facility was cutting edge. But what I found most remarkable was the level of trust upper management placed in the facility’s manager—if he felt his operation needed something, no matter how big or how small, he could make the purchases without sending a request to headquarters.
As we know, this is not how business typically works. Since prospects need to get the nod and buy-in before purchasing they need to be armed with the necessary information to elicit OKs. That’s where case histories come in as a source for solutions.
Keep Case Histories in Your Content Toolkit
When it comes to providing trade press content, case histories can present your company as an innovator and a problem solver, and most publications eagerly accept these kinds of articles. Companies like to see what other companies are doing.
Here’s a check-list for making these happy-ending stories more powerful in terms of their message and more useful as content.
Who is Your Audience?
Always keep your audience in mind– someone with a problem. Though mini-success sagas are about you, remember this is a means for putting the reader in the shoes of featured user. So it is important to articulate the thought processes behind the challenge and the fix.
Make the information as concrete as you can. Build the description of the problem and then quantify the results if you can. But you can’t always, so then…
In Their Own Words…
Get some hit-the-bull’s-eye quotes from the user. The more industry jargon that can be worked in, the better; it establishes a connection with the reader. Of course, having the numbers off the solution is great, but laudatory user reviews are golden.
Hey And If They Don’t Have Words
What if your site contact is a bit tongue-tied? That happens. So be ready with some questions that start off with, “would you say that…?”
Do Your Homework
Nothing is worse than going into the meeting with the expectation that everything you need to know will come out of the session. It won’t.
Learn all you can about the company and their products. Most importantly, find the person who made the sale. Not only can they give you tech specs around the sale, but also some insights in dealing with your contact. And nothing is better than giving your contact reason to believe you are really interested in what they are doing.
Prep the User
Based on your research, put together preliminary questions and send them off to the contact. Along with having the users ready with some answers, the question sheet will also put them at ease because they will know what to expect from the session.
Feed the Need
Here’s why you want to build your case history library. If you are running an aggressive marketing plan, that program will always be hungry for content. Case histories are a perfect nutrient. These real-world narratives can give your messages mileage by getting you into both the horizontal publications and the industry-related vertical magazines, and with slight modification each one of these stories can appear in a variety of places.
You can also use case histories on your website as stand-alones, feature them in your blogs, work them into conference presentations and make sure your sales force has them handy in print and on their tablets when they call on prospects. Chances are if you have done your job of getting them in the trade press, the prospect has seen them already. Very likely they will recall these stories and your sales person can get right down to getting the business.