Yet after the interview, that excitement fizzles because the story seems less substantive and interesting than what you expected.
Several factors can contribute to this scenario:
A reluctant customer. Although the interview may have been agreed upon weeks ago, when it actually happens the customer may prove reluctant to talk. Typical reasons include changes in the customer's situation or satisfaction with your product, concern about disclosing too much information, or poor preparation of the customer before the interview. Or, the customer may simply be someone who is not a real talker and will give only basic answers to your questions.
An overly optimistic view of the story's potential. This factor can arise from your salesperson's enthusiasm for promoting the account, a desire to get the customer name, to get that particular type of story, or indeed any story at all.
The story may not be ready to tell. The interview may be premature, especially if the product implementation isn't yet finished or hasn't had enough time to produce useful results. In this case, complete as much of the interview as you can, especially for gaining testimonial statements that may be usable before the full case study can be produced. But also get the customer's agreement for a more in-depth interview when the story is indeed ready to tell.
Skill of the interviewer. Check your question list and the way those questions are asked. Are they open-ended questions that encourage storytelling? Do you probe for details when the customer gives a short or basic answer?
A good story is there…if you know how to find it
How can you salvage a weak story? Here are some options to consider:
- Write a shorter case study. If your standard is two pages, accept one page.
- Use the brief story as the sidebar for a brochure or white paper, or as an element in an email campaign or Web content.
- Pull-out whatever customer quotes you can, even if only one or two, and use these quotes as testimonial statements in a variety of content and social media forms.
A talented copywriter can help you find good, usable, and relevant content from any interview. The writer also can keep you from wasting budget on stories that aren't yet ready for prime time, where there simply isn't enough substance to make it a story worth telling.
It can be disappointing to find a weak story where you were hoping for a strong case study. But by using the interview as a source for testimonials and other small content elements, everyone's time, efforts, and hopes for promotional value won't be wasted.
Learn More About Case Study Interviews