Bring Your Tire Pump When Preparing and Presenting Your Next Case Study!

Tony Compton, Managing Partner

I recently was a student in one of Jeff Lupetin’s voiceover classes in downtown Chicago. Jeff is an outstanding voiceover talent, coach, and author of the book Ultimate Voiceover. The subject of “voicing corporate copy” was discussed in class one evening. And you know corporate copy can be, well, a bit boring. Describing that latest software installation may be exciting to product management, developers, and the sales department, but describing the technical requirements, software customizations, and end results of your latest deployment for a financial services customer isn’t exactly a compelling story found in blockbuster movies. And dry content, plus an equally dry presentation of the content, equals the cure for insomnia. So it’s the job of any marketer, content creator, and presenter to take the dry content of case studies, and, as Jeff would say, “bring your tire pump to pump fresh air, life, excitement, and energy in the way you tell your story!”  

Have You Seen (and Read) Some of the Case Studies Out There?

Case studies are the lifeblood of a B2B company’s sales and marketing plan.
They anchor demand generation programs, build credibility, speak to pain points, drive home value props, and detail technical and consultative solutions. A great customer story can do wonders for account management, corporate branding, and even analyst relations. Online marketers love case studies which fuel web and social media strength, and those in professional services use them to make the intangible understandable and real. Great case studies are built on a daily basis. So why do so many abandon the comprehensive process of owning, managing and properly communicating case studies? Why do so many studies fall into the boring, cookie cutter communication process and fail to deliver full value?

Main Problem: Communicating The Cloned Case Study Format

Most are familiar with the formulaic ritual on which a case study is built. It’s a familiar step-by-step process. When starting a new case study, a “producer” will conduct research into the work done for a client company. Project leaders and senior executives will be interviewed, ROI figures calculated, logos exchanged, and the tactical assignment of assembling the building blocks of case study content is completed.
For the uninitiated, the exercise of constructing a case study boils down to:

  • Sharing a set of client company facts: name, industry, territory, etc.
  • Explaining the business challenges faced by the client
  • Describing the implemented solution: the professional services and supporting technologies
  • Allocating credit to the solution providers
  • Unveiling the measurable outcomes achieved as a result of the work performed
  • Providing a call to action for the audience

This simple, common format is standard operating procedure for creating case studies. It can be applied no matter if the assignment is a short case study presentation abstract, a one-page pdf, a 5-page slide deck, or a two minute video.

But beware the danger zone. Once the initial exercise of building the content of a case study is complete, it’s at this point where case studies start to become unappealing.
It’s where ownership, passion, and excitement should be injected into how case study material is communicated. But so often, they’re not.

In our paint-by-number corporate world, much of the valuable content obtained in the case study development process is dumped into rigid, predictable and uninteresting communication vehicles. Case study after case study is written, produced and presented in the same matter of fact fashion as the preceding study.
They’re shoehorned into pdf and slide templates, carbon copy web postings, and unoriginal videos, and shared into alleged sales enablement processes which merely dump the content into a virtual pile. Unfortunate, because little attention is paid to the question of whether or not justice is being done to case studies. Do the stories breakthrough and resonate with audiences, and will your front-line staff and alliance partners have the ability to passionately represent, present, and deliver case study material?

Randomly Select Some of Your Competition’s Video Case Studies
and Have Some Fun

Here’s your challenge: Note if the videos (more or less) follow this checklist.
See if:

  • Panoramic b-roll of a client’s corporate office is used. (This includes scenes of a tree-lined parking lot outside of a building, happy staff occupying conference rooms, and an oversized company logo on a wall or outside sign.)
  • A stool-sitting client executive or tech team leader offset to the right side of the screen who never smiles, uses his hands, or employs any human expression as the story is told
  • A vendor executive also offset to the right, employing the same mundane mannerisms, during another part of the case study
  • More b-roll of smiling people shaking hands, leaning forward, or staring into computer screens
  • Some form of a technical schematic, overloaded screen shots, or images of tech jargon
  • Long-winded on-camera subjects and voiceovers, resulting in case study videos of 4-5 minutes, or more

Then ask yourself:

  • Do those on-camera look happy, and appear credible and comfortable?
  • Did the video hold your attention?
  • Were you able to watch the whole video without interruption?
  • At first, when you saw the runtime of the video, were your excited, or did your heart sink?
  • Once it began, did you want to watch the whole video?

The most important question is: “If this is what our competition is producing, what’s stopping us from being more creative, more exciting, more memorable, and better storytellers with our case studies?”

I understand the argument for using standard and traditional components in constructing video case studies, including the usage of many common elements seen today. I’ve employed similar tactics and elements in the past. But the time has come to be responsive to mobile viewing patterns, the short attention windows of audiences, and the immediate needs of your sales and marketing teams. And that’s by constructing quick, sharp, poignant and engaging case studies – no matter the format or channel of communication used – to generate business opportunity.

Inject Energy into All Existing Case Studies, and Passionately Create the Next One

On a daily basis, the words “Let’s Do a Case Study!” are emphatically spoken by vendors and service providers everywhere. And, with contagious eagerness, attention is paid to compiling new case studies. Sadly, dry cookie cutter case studies already pumping throughout a company’s system can be left unattended. These slowly age, and turn a company’s case study lifeblood into coagulating sludge which clogs sales and marketing’s arteries. As time flies, case studies become outdated, and the shelf life of content expires.

Right now, you’re in possession of a wealth of inadequately used case study material, and refocusing your attention to reenergize that content is a must. Those are the stories of greatest interest to your audience. They can fuel websites, slide decks, videos, and sales enablement kits, and should creatively drive new opportunities.
Make the most of that content by bringing your tire pump everywhere you go, injecting the passion required to make the story of every case study told credible, exciting and memorable!

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