Visit just about any vendor’s website and you’ll find customer testimonials, and there’s a reason for that—they’re compelling and are widely used by customers and prospects to make purchasing decisions. Case studies provide credibility for products and services, and they’re crucial in validating emerging companies, technologies and markets.
The few technology companies that don’t prominently offer user stories argue that there’s something unique about their technology or market preventing them from getting customers to go on the record to endorse the value of their offerings. In some instances that is indeed true, but in most cases it’s a crutch because the company hasn’t developed the processes necessary to effectively leverage customer relationships to support high-value marketing campaigns.
I’ve written an average of around 20 user stories annually for more than a couple of decades, and I’ve found that clear and consistent workflows for qualifying and recruiting customers, defined processes for every step between interviewing the customer and gaining approvals, and clear document structure that set expectations and allow both users and internal reviewers to understand the size, shape and flow of the final product will facilitate approvals and accelerate project completion.
The length and style of case studies varies widely, but it’s important that the stories from a vendor are consistent. Whether you prefer a brief, two-page piece that sums up the value at a high level, a slightly longer 4-page case study that includes more solution description and configuration information or a more technical tome that addresses major technical, topology or architectural issues in a longer format, by delivering a consistent framework you can scale your customer endorsement program and leverage your user perspectives to help educate your prospects.
To get an idea of the range of styles used for customer testimonials, visit my Portfolio page and click on Case Studies and review samples ranging from industry giants like IBM, RSA and HP to emerging innovators like BTI and Riverbed. While each vendor has a very different style, they have all worked hard to ensure consistency among their case studies so they can produce high-quality pieces quickly and economically.