People sometimes say bad things come in threes, but successful businesses have learned how to pull off a highly positive trifecta. It goes like this:
You close a deal with a new customer!
The customer has a great experience with your products and services!
You convince the customer to share their success story as a case study or testimonial!
There are too many companies that overlook No. 3 on this list, and it’s to their detriment.
Not many customers want to be the first to test the waters with a new product or service, for example. Even as consumers, we might ask a store associate what they’d heard about an item we pull off the shelf. If the associate says, “It’s our most popular product,” the item suddenly seems more enticing.
Case studies and testimonials go way beyond that kind of high-level, generic endorsement, of course. You can use them to tell a richer story about how your products and services were used. You’re citing real companies and real people, who share their challenges and how your firm helped solve them.
Think of it this way: much of the marketing and sales pitches that come from a company could be boiled down to the phrase, “Take it from us — you’ll be glad you made this purchase.”
Case studies and testimonials make a more powerful statement. They say, “Take it from your peers — they were glad they made this purchase. Here’s what they said, in their own words.”
Even though many businesses recognize the potential of case studies and testimonials, they might not produce them because they’re unsure of the process involved. This includes how to share them effectively once they’ve been finalized. If that’s you, use this post as the crash course you need to get started:
Testimonials tend to be short — often just a few sentences or a paragraph at most. A case study tends to be longer and more involved — the shortest might be several hundred words and in-depth versions can run thousands.
Customers who agree to share their story have to be prepared to invest some time and effort in being interviewed or preparing some comments via email. They’ll also need to take some time to review and approve the drafts you produce. No one wants to over-burden their customers, so speak candidly at the outset about the expectations and what they’re reasonably able to do on their end.
Bear in mind that some stories don’t need to be turned into a full-length case study. If the customer is simply happy, has a short anecdote about the results they’ve seen or wants to describe the positive experience they had with your team, a testimonial is fine.
In other cases you might be able to produce a case study and use one of the quotes as a testimonial. Explore the best approach and present this to your client.
Some customers will have participated in case studies and testimonials before, while others might be new to the process and are a bit nervous. Your job should be to make it as easy for them as possible to participate by giving them everything they need to feel prepared.
Your case study or testimonial brief should include:
The approximate length of time for the interview to be conducted.
What format you’ll be using — such as web copy or a downloadable PDF.
Where the case study or testimonial will be shared.
A sample list of the questions you’ll be asking.
Any head shots or company images you might need to illustrate the asset.
Details on how the review process will work and key points of contact.
Any legal clearance that may need to be dealt with prior to publication.
From here, the focus will be on interviewing, writing and designing your assets.
If you’ve got good case studies and testimonials, they don’t have to remain buried in a section labeled “Resources” on your website.
Think of all the moments where a customer needs to feel reassurance, or to better understand how your products and services could address their needs. Make these assets a recurring theme in the journey they take from awareness and purchasing and even into the post-purchase phase.
Think about using your case studies and testimonials in the following ways:
As the basis for a blog post — perhaps linking to multiple case studies or testimonials that speak to the same qualities of your company’s products, services or expert team members.
Link to a case study in your email signature with a teaser like, “Find out how XYZ Corp. achieved [result] with us!” or paste a short testimonial that gets people intrigued.
Redesign case studies to be featured in the sales team’s pitch decks. Use your favourite testimonial as the last slide.
Turn case studies into news items you share in your social media channels, or use testimonial quotes in posts that link back to details about product updates.
If you recorded your customer interviews and have permission, create video-based case studies and testimonials, or edit the audio into a series of case study-driven podcasts.
Use testimonials to “bookend” the key points in a speech or presentation delivered at industry events, and use case studies as proof points to back up the best practices you offer.
Remember that the ultimate goal of creating case studies and testimonials is not simply to have customers brag about your company on your behalf. They help enhance the experience you’re offering to your next prospect or customer by helping them see the possibilities open to them if they do business with you. And if you have good assets like these, chances are they will.