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How to secure case studies to give your startup a sales boost

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Sinart Creative)

As a new startup with no public profile, you’ve got to work hard to get your target audience to notice you, let alone consider you.   

But for every potential customer that visits your site, you need to throw everything at them to convince them to buy from you. 

This is where the value of the case study comes in. One small piece of content that gives a step-by-step guide to how you fixed a problem for an existing customer.  

The challenge is, getting customers to agree to do case studies can seem almost impossible. It doesn’t have to be that way of course. Here are 8 tips to find enough willing case study candidates to boost your website’s selling power. 

1. Take time to understand their reluctance to be a case study and address their concerns 

You’ve asked the question and they’ve said no. But have you taken the time to find out why? If it’s company policy not to do case studies, then fair enough. However, if their reluctance is down to the fact that they don’t know enough about what’s involved, then you have an opportunity to convert them. If they think it’ll be a lot of work on their side, tell them what’s involved. If they think they’ll need to share sensitive information about the company’s operations, reassure them that this won’t be the case.  

Once you know the problem, it will be easier to solve. Be transparent about how (and where) you’ll be using the information they provide and you’ll put their mind at ease. 

2. Let them see what’s in it for them 

You’re asking your client to do some work for you so how are you going to make it worth their while? Could the case study include a backlink to their website? Could you support them in some PR or award activity which will raise the profile of both companies? 

It might also be wise to include in the case study details of how your service has resulted in improvements for their customers. That way, they have some content their own marketing and sales teams can share with customers. 

Don’t position it as you asking for a favour; present it as a great opportunity for both parties. 

3. Make the process as painless as possible 

Don’t make your customer write the case study themselves. Instead, ask for 30 minutes of their time, tops. 15 minutes to interview them over the phone for information, and 15 minutes to approve the final copy.   

You want to get it right first time so make sure that the individual doing the interview and the copywriting has a good understanding of the industry and the customer’s business and can write well.   

You can even provide your customer with a case to present to their own boss if it needs more senior sign off. 

4. Collaborate with your sales team 

Even if your sales team consists of one person, they could still be a great deal of use. They may have a bank of case studies or customer testimonials that they use to close deals over the phone.   

Gather as much info you can and also look at customers who have recently upgraded or extended their contracts with you – they’re happy customers and therefore ideal candidates to approach.   

5. Go for the happiest and most grateful of your customers  

You only need a few case studies so go for the easy wins. Identify the customers who have never complained, and perhaps are already recommending you to others. They are the best candidates to approach. They’ll also give you the best story. 

And if they’re already recommending you to others, then that case study copy you create with them might be something they choose to use themselves going forward. That will make the referral process far more effective. 

6. Capitalise on relationships 

A customer is far more likely to agree to a request from their trusted account handler than from a PR or marketing person they’ve never heard of. So, get that person to make the approach. They’ll be sensitive to the client’s schedule and priorities and have more experience in “handling” them.   

Just make sure you give the account handler all the information they need to work their magic to get a ‘yes’. It might also help to incentivise the whole account team to seek out and secure case study opportunities for you.   

7. Show them an example of a case study 

If the problem seems to be that your customer is unsure of how the case study will appear, this will put them at ease. If you do have another case study on file, let them see it. This way they’ll be able to see exactly what is involved, how much information is shared, and how the brand is presented.   

8. Think about timing 

Back to the account handlers! Check with them if the customers you’re planning to speak to are approaching the financial year-end or have other urgent business priorities to handle. If they’re busy, it’s easy for them to say no.   

Also consider how long they’ve been customers for. If they’re brand new, they won’t have seen results of your performance yet so instead look for customers that have been with you using your product or service for more than six months. They should be able to talk in terms of measurable, significant results. 

9. Make them commit to it at contract stage 

A very simple solution is to add a section in your contract template that commits new customers to provide a case study or testimonial. While some will spot the section and ask for it to be removed before they commit, a few will happily proceed with it included. 

10. Be willing to compromise  

If you try all of the above and you still cannot get your customer to agree to a case study, there are still other ways they can help you prove the good work you do. A customer testimonial is one step down from a case study and will still mean they’re talking about the great service you provide. It’s only one or two paragraphs so it won’t give potential customers lots of detail about what you did, but it will include their brand. This will give credibility to the copy and show that it’s a genuine review. 

Follow these tips, and a bank of case studies should be built in no time. Then a wave of new customers should soon follow.     

Hannah Brice, Managing Director of Upmarketry 

Image Credit: Sinart Creative / Shutterstock

Hannah Brice
Hannah Brice is the managing director of Upmarketry, helping startups grow with smart marketing ideas.