I have a confession. I’m rubbish at influencing. I was never good at it in the corporate world. I never successfully managed to negotiate a pay rise or get them to spring for the fancy stand up desk..
It was only once I had kids that I learned the true art of negotiation. My most recent win has been convincing my three year old that toothpaste isn’t actually a food group.
Like many parents I have some tried and tested tactics to get my kids to do what I need them to do. And I’ve realised the same strategies can be applied to getting what you want in the real world, too.
Like when you want a customer to be part of a case study.
Your customers probably don’t want to be in your case study. They’re busy. They have their own workload. And it seems like a big favour to do for someone they’ve already paid good money for a product or service.
But with a bit of selling and gentle persuasion, you can get them to agree. And get an awesome piece of content from it.
First, do you have the right customer?
Before we jump into the influencing part, let’s revisit the golden rules of choosing a customer. Because not all customers are going to suit being in a case study.
For the full run down, read my article on choosing the perfect customer for your next case study. Here’s the gist.
There are five things to look for when choosing a customer for a case study:
- How big their company is (is it similar to your prospects?)
- How relatable their challenge is
- How much they loved you
- How recently you worked together
- What kind of results they can share
Finding the right mix of these five factors will make the whole influencing challenge that much easier. But even the perfect customer will have some hesitations.
3 barriers holding your customers back from saying “YES!”
You might have a good idea of your ideal customer for your case study, but you still need them to agree to participate. Let’s look at the three biggest factors that are holding them back from saying “yes”, and how you can overcome these.
Barrier 1: Time
With already overflowing to-do lists and competing priorities from within their own organisation, your customer is probably stretched already. They may have the best of intentions, but the thought of creating a case study with you is just another thing on their list.
Depending on how big the organisation is, they may also need to get the case study approved by their corporate comms department. For some, that’s one hoop too many to jump through!
How to overcome it:
- Keep their involvement to a minimum. Don’t ask them to write the thing for you! At the most you should ask them to be on a short call and commit some time reviewing the finished product. My case study process takes no more than one hour of their time.
- Make it super clear what their involvement looks like. I have a page on my website that clearly sets out my case study process – how much time it will take, what the steps are, and what they get out of it. My clients tell me this has helped get their customers to agree to be in their case study.
- Send them a few examples of what the finished case study will look like (even better if the example is in their niche or about one of their competitors).
Barrier 2: Fear of reputational risk
Everyone wants to position their brand in a favourable light. But because a case study can highlight the problems they were having (before your solution helped them), some people may be hesitant to share this. They also may be worried about sharing results or revenue figures publicly.
How to get them past this:
- Give them reassurance that nothing will be published without their approval. They get final say on how it appears.
- If they’re worried about revealing results or revenue figures, you can focus your case study on the relationship between your brands instead of hard numbers. Let them know you’ll be highlighting the impact on their team’s efficiency, productivity and morale rather than dollars and cents.
- If you’re using a professional content writer, let them know. Knowing that you’re in safe hands with an experienced professional who has written a heap of case studies can add another layer of reassurance.
Barrier 3: Motivation (AKA “what’s in it for me?”)
You might have the tightest process that asks for minimal involvement from the customer, and they’re still going to wonder “How is giving an hour of my time going to benefit me?”
To get people to agree to be in a case study, you’re going to need to sell the benefits. This shouldn’t be so hard. After all, Marketers, that’s what you do!
How to close the deal:
- Call out the benefits: Even though they’re giving their time, there are a lot of things they get in return. Some benefits include:
- Raise your company’s profile
- Boost your personal brand
- Feel warm and fuzzy knowing you’re helping someone out
- Score some free promotion on social media
- Get a free backlink to boost your SEO
- Offer an incentive: Some companies offer a discount or some other sort of bonus in return for participating in a case study.
Case studies are one of the most powerful tools in the marketer’s kit. But not all customers are suitable for being profiled, and some will need some extra convincing to participate. By doing some legwork upfront to choose the right customer, and get their buy-in to the process, your case study will run smoother, and the approval process will be quicker.
You’ll have a valuable lead magnet you can use to win your next customer (who may even turn out to be perfect for your next case study!)
Make sure your case study is in good hands with a professional case study writer. I have a simple 5 step process that keeps your customer’s commitment to a minimum AND ensures they come out looking brilliant on the other side.
Check out some case studies I’ve written for my clients.