Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Case Studies that Build Community

I spent some time on the Pervasive Software site today. They have a wealth of case studies to share with their visitors on their website. I read them in the context of someone who was trying to understand how to choose a database product for their enterprise of software. Pervasive could change their case study format in the following ways to make them more likely to share them without spending any more time preparing the case studies. 1. Make the piece in article format, not "case study" format. Design the article to help the reader solve their problem. "How a Major International Bank Solved Switches to a New Pricing System" or "Making Customer Service Reps More Responsive in the Accounting Industry". The "case study" then needs to deliver on the promise of its title. 2. Discuss how the customer went about solving the problem--not just the problem of picking the Pervasive solution. What issues were important? How did they overcome obstacles? This can all be uncovered in the customer interview. 3. List OTHER solutions that were used. Why not? If they worked with Pervasive software once, wouldn't the work again? Suddenly this "success story" is helping readers solve other problems. Nice value. Plus, you can probably get a cross-linking deal with the complimentary companies. 4. Include a picture of the people involved. This is an extra expense, but is an excellent way to personalize the issues. People like to learn more about colleagues... and competitors. 5. Use less jargon. Be more colloquial. 6. Be sure to include things that will help the person sell the solution internally. Measurable results in terms of increased revenue, reduced cost, and increased productivity are great. As I am finishing this, it occurs to me that I'm asking for Case Studies to be more like Blogs. Myopia? Maybe. What if the Sales Manager kept a "Success Stories" blog? Hmmm.

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