case study - a software marketing vehicle that wows your prospects by describing how your application is used in the real world.
Case studies inject a bit of reality into research and education. Academics use case studies to weave a bit of reality into their largely theoretical work.
According to Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, the authors of "Content Rules," most case studies are boring and sad. Traditionally, a software industry case study is a fact-by-fact description of how somebody used your software, and how it helped them in business or in school or in life.
Instead of this dreary approach to case studies, the authors want us to craft a Customer Success Story. Make your write-up people-centric, and not process-centric. Tell an interesting story in which your software is the hero. If you're successful, you'll establish an emotional link between your prospect and yourself.
Here are Handley and Chapman's five tips for organizing and writing your customer success story, translated into the software development industry -
Introduce your software customer.
Use bullet points to put your customer in context. Name the company, the location, the contact person, the industry they're in, and their size (both in sales dollars and in number of employees). Keep the introduction short.
Tell your story.
Tell your tale from the perspective of a person at your customer's company. The story is about the person, and not about the company.
Explain the problem. Let your readers feel the pain, at an emotional level. Use fear to get your readers interested in how your customer solved her problem.
Solve the problem with your software.
Explain how your software - the hero of the story - solved your customer's problem.
Look into the future.
End with a "happily ever after" theme. Make your reader say to herself, "I need to buy that software, too."
Reimagine your customer success story.
Create a video. Blog about it. Find other ways to deliver your newly-written content to your prospects.
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