Starting (or reviving) a B2B customer case study program is often easier than keeping one going. You know two or three perfect customers, and they’re eager to help. You and your case study writing team breeze through the interview, drafts, and approval process. It’s awesome. The boss is thrilled. Your new BFFs in the field can’t get enough. Everyone wants more.
So you secure budget for plenty of case studies, ask the sales team to refer you to more customers who want to do case studies, and you wait. And wait. A few leads come in, but the customers don’t seem ready for a case study—or you realize in the interview that they’re not using your offering in a way you want to highlight.
You’ve stumbled onto an annoying truth about case study outreach: It’s work and the sales team isn’t going to do it for you. Drat! You’ll just have to do it yourself. (Or you could have the Content Bureau do it for you, of course.) The outreach process can seem a bit like sales—and the real trick is generating leads to customers you want to feature. Here are five ways to do that:
1. Ask your sales contacts for a little help. Reach out to people in sales and help them understand the ideal profile of the customers you’d like to feature. Ask for contact info for at least two customers. When you reach out, send a personal email instead of a group email. People will be more likely to respond to a question directed at them rather than a request to a group. Follow up with a phone call if you don’t hear back.
2. Reach out to partners. Partner organizations will be very eager to see case studies with even a brief mention of their offerings. In exchange for two or three sentences in a case study, partners may be more than happy to do the outreach legwork for you. This is especially true for smaller partners that may be operating on shoestring budgets.
3. Get the word out. Use your company’s website to find customer success stories. Add a blurb or sidebar to relevant pages on your site asking customers if they’d like to do a case study. Write a post for your company’s blog about the wonders of participating in a case study. Link interested customers to an online form that allows them to send their contact info and a few sentences describing their successes to you. Don’t expect a huge number of responses, but you may get a few gems.
4. Target top customers. If you have access to customer lists, use them to decide in advance the customers you’d like to feature. Then, reach out to the customers. Letting the relevant account managers know that you plan to contact their customers is good practice, and can help to expedite responses from customers.
5. Work the room. Conferences—especially user conferences that focus exclusively on your company’s products—are the ideal place to reach customers. Just strike up conversations with likely prospects. When you find a customer with a great story, ask if they’d consider doing a case study. Get their business card and jot down highlights of the conversation on the back. When you return to the office, you’ll likely have several leads—all you have to do is pick the best ones.