As promised, here’s another installment in my fantabulous extradeliscionary mini course: Top Notch Customer Case Studies.
I introduced the series here if you want to read that. Short version: I’ve been doing this for a long time, I know what I’m doing, and I’m ready to perform the ultimate brain dump ;-)
If you’re looking for the basics, however, this isn’t the place for it. I’m assuming that you are already a decent writer. The closest you’ll get to the basics is in the first installment, here.
So let’s get started.
Today’s lesson is
Make value your story’s lodestar.
Definition of a lodestar, from Princeton’s Wordnet:
guiding star; a star that is used as a reference point in navigation or astronomy.
Your story’s lodestar is the reference point for every element of the story — every thread you develop, every subtopic you introduce.
So how do you make value a story’s lodestar?
Let’s get to that answer by first considering what customer case studies are: stories with a purpose — tools intended to move prospective buyers along a sales process.
And why do people buy a product or service?
Because they get some kind of value for their money — something that, to a customer’s mind, is worth more (hopefully much more) than what they had to spend.
That said, customer case studies can’t be too obvious as marketing pieces. I’ll cover that in more depth in a future installation of this course. For now suffice to say: you’re ghosting a third party endorsement, not writing a marketing brochure.
Big difference. With straight marketing pieces, value — the product or service’s benefits — is always front & center. A marketing piece is a kind of argument for value; it intends to be overtly persuasive.
Case studies are narratives. You’re juggling more elements. You’re using inputs from customers — people whose experience of a product or service might not gibe exactly with the company’s messaging. The structure of the piece is driven by the story itself, not by somebody’s marketing plan.
That’s why case study writers have to be more deliberate about keeping an eye on the lodestar. Make sure you know up front what the messaging is supposed to be. What is the company’s idea of the product’s value? How can the customer’s story be synched up with the “official” value proposition? Can the customer’s story include any fresh insights into that value?
When your approach is guided by these kinds of questions, the story will naturally display internal cohesiveness as a marketing piece.
And it will serve its overarching marketing objective: to influence decision-makers who are considering those same products or services.