Katie is a writer specializing in customer case studies. She has written for technology and education companies and coaches of all types. In her free time, Katie enjoys baking, reading fantasy novels, and going on road trips with her husband. Katie lives in Wisconsin and thinks cheese should be in its own food group.
Can you share with our listeners what a customer case study is?
A customer case study is the success story of how a client or customer has gotten results through a product or service. So basically it takes your happy customer from how they found you, why they decided to work with you, through that experience of working with you, and down to the results that they got when they had finished working with you.
What are some characteristics of an ideal customer to feature in a case study?
So customers that make a great fit have likely told you that they are happy with the work that you both did together. They may have recommended you to others, which is great because a customer case study is kind of a recommendation, so to speak so if they've already been recommending you to other people, they'll be able to give more ideal quotes for the case study. Also, if your customer has told you about a result that was particularly impactful, that is also a great qualifier for a customer who might make a great case study, because having a great story and pairing that with enticing data, or even really great emotional benefit, is definitely a way to create a piece that shows your prospects and your leads what they will get if they work with you.
So you have mentioned that there are four sections to a case study. What are examples of the questions that I could ask my customers to make sure that I have information in each of those four parts?
So the first part is the introduction. You'll want to ask your customer if they are a business owner, where is their business located, what types of work do they do with their clients and customers, how long have they been in business, and then if they're a consumer, then you'll ask them things like, where do they live, how old they are if they're comfortable sharing that. Sometimes people's hobbies and interests can be good to know about just to make it a little more personable. So those are the basic introduction questions. Then we get into the challenge part and the challenge part talks about what challenges they were looking to solve. So I usually ask, what was the challenge you were looking to solve, why did you choose to have someone else help you solve your problem, how are you solving your problem before you found the product or service that ended up being the solution, and then we get into your business because we want to have a little information about you and your business and why they chose you. That can come from asking them, how did you learn about the solutions, why did you specifically choose to work with my company, if you're doing the interview yourself. Then, of course, the most impactful section is the results. So a few questions that I usually ask are, what are some qualitative results that you've experienced? So that gets really into those emotions, those feelings. What are some quantitative results that you've experienced as a result of the work? Which gets into the numbers? Then another question I love is, tell me about a time when the work we did made a real difference because that can open up a whole story of, "Oh, I was just spending all my time answering emails, but with the autoresponder that your company provides, I now have a ton of time to do the work that I love, and I'm really happy." So that question can be really open-ended and give the readers an idea of how the results can impact them on a day-to-day basis. Then I always ask, why would you recommend this business to others? That is a great question, because sometimes they'll even say, "Well, yeah it has, I have sent referrals, or I have recommended this business to other people and here's why." It kind of, it kind of touches on the warmth that a person can experience in your customer service, or in the way that you solve problems, or just in your approach in general, that doesn't always get captured in the results. So those are the four sections and those are some questions that can help you make sure that you're covering your bases when you're creating your case studies.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I think one of my favorites might have been when I attended a networking event online in 2020. It was just a really fun and really interactive networking event. They asked questions like if your business were an emoji, put the emoji that you would represent your business into the chat and that was just super fun because it really highlighted each of our businesses in a really unique way. It also brought up some important aspects of our branding and messaging that doesn’t always come out in your own logo or in your own storytelling. Mine was a megaphone emoji, by the way, because I see my business as a business that champions and cheers on the success of other businesses. So it was just fun to connect with people from that networking event afterward and have one-on-ones with them and have that insight into just the fun, creative businesses that they are.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your network and your community?
I love LinkedIn. It is the place where a lot of my ideal customers are hanging out and it's just a little more focused than some of the other social platforms. So I post on LinkedIn weekly and I'm also a big proponent of sending messages to people. So asking them to connect, asking them to hop on a quick call so we can get to know each other, and then even if I have conversations with people that really stand out, and I really want to reconnect with them later, there are a couple of people that I've connected with almost monthly just to shoot the breeze and talk shop, especially other writers, and other people in marketing. I think it's really fun to share ideas and just talk with each other about how business and life are going. It's great to build relationships and really get to know people as people.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I would say connect. There are people in the world who are connectors. They usually will tell you that they are a connector and if you are fortunate to have a connector in your network, definitely leverage that relationship. Also set goals for what you can accomplish and by that, I mean plan to reach out to a certain number of people per day, and plan to send a certain number of connection requests each week. Just make it a part of your everyday business routine and business practices and that will help your network grow. Also, I've had success joining groups of people who are either in my target audience or who are in my field, parts of marketing groups, and writing groups, and people will connect to you in a group as well. That's great because if you're looking at the members of a group, you can send messages to them even if you're not connected on a first-level connection basis, and it doesn't count against your searches if you're connecting with people from groups which is helpful.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would tell myself not to be afraid to freelance and do writing jobs for people. It took me a long time to think of myself as a freelancer and I think part of that had to do with just the way the internet developed and the way that freelancing became a little more well known in the area where I was living at the time as I grew a little older. But yeah, I would tell myself to just not be afraid to reach out to people and network with people. I don't think I understood the value of networking quite as much as I do now so don't be afraid is my main message for my 20-year-old self.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
Probably Tim Ferriss, because he's been a huge inspiration to me. I read one of his books, and I had so much energy, I didn't know what to do with it that I like went skydiving with a friend because I just had to get the energy out. And six degrees of separation, I mean, one of my co-workers moved to Austin, Texas. I know Tim either does live or used to live in Austin. So maybe one of my co-worker’s friends knows him. I'm sure somewhere along the line it'll happen because we probably do know people who know people, especially since I've been floating a little more in entrepreneurial spaces these days.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
As you're reaching out to people, and as you are connecting with people, you're going to connect with some people that you will just learn about and get to know and that's great. You're going to connect with some people who have something to offer you and they will help you. You're also going to connect with some people who are looking for your help. That could be they're looking to connect with someone that you know, that could also be they're looking for a service that you provide, or they might even be a job seeker who's looking for encouragement, and you can share your story. I have found it to be such a joy to help people when I get the opportunity. So I would encourage you to keep a special watch out for the ways that you can help others as you're growing your network.
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