Getting Case Studies Right w. Joel Klettke
Join Geordie and the founder of Case Study Buddy as we discuss how to get impactful case studies done on time and on message.
- What are the elements of a truly effective case study?
- Common mistakes in case study development
- The advantages of strategic storytelling
- How to get stats when there's none readily available
- Length of case studies? What works best?
- Video vs. Written?
- Some of the best ways to leverage your case studies
- How do you get buy-in from clients to participate in case studies?
- Any tips for clearing internal approval processes at client organizations?
- How do you handle concerns from clients’ legal teams?
- How to leverage anonymous case studies
Learn more about effective case study creation on Case Study Buddy's blog: https://casestudybuddy.com/blog/
Welcome to Tech Marketer Live, helping you create and capture demand in the enterprise technology market. Now here's your host, Geordie Carswell.
Geordie Carswell (00:11):
Alright. Hey everybody. Geordie here. Happy to have you with us on Tech Marketer Live a new episode. I'm excited to welcome Joel Klettke. Am I saying that right, Joel?
Joel Klettke (00:22):
You nailed it. Yeah, you got
Geordie Carswell (00:23):
It. I nailed it. First try. All right. That's awesome. From case study buddy, the founder of case study buddy, a ton of our clients and listeners are in the B two B space that case studies are a staple and we thought it'd be really interesting to have a conversation about this with the man, the expert on this front. So I'm happy to have you come on. Thanks very much, Joel.
Joel Klettke (00:45):
Yeah, I'm excited to dig into it all.
Geordie Carswell (00:48):
Awesome. So tell us a little bit just about yourself first if you could please, Joel.
Joel Klettke (00:53):
Yeah, I mean my career trajectory has kind of gone. I worked at an agency doing SEO and then went out on my own in 2013 and doing copywriting. And it was through that I started doing more conversion focused copywriting and landing pages websites and it was on the back of a project for WP Engine that someone on their board said, Hey, do you do case studies? And I thought, well not yet, but for you definitely. And I gave it a shot and it was in doing that project that I kind of realized, hey, there are all kinds of challenges in doing these. They are complicated, they can be really tricky, but the upside is massive. And when I looked around at the market that well, surely someone's planted a flag and said, we specialize in this. We're really good at blocking and tackling on all the different areas, all the different disciplines. I came up dry, there was the odd freelancer, but there really wasn't a dedicated team devoted to just solving the problems around this and doing it well and doing it at scale. So just over seven years, almost eight years ago, a case study buddy was born as a bit of a side project and we've been learning and growing and trying to get better ever since.
Geordie Carswell (02:03):
Awesome. Well I think that's a great intro to why the need was there and what you saw in the marketplace. So we agree, we're case PT study buddy clients ourselves, and so we're excited to learn more about this. So I want to dig right in here about, so what are the elements of a truly effective case study? Not just putting something up on the web, but something really effective.
Joel Klettke (02:30):
For sure. I think at the heart of a really effective story is number one, a focused intention. It's not a kitchen sink story where every impact and everything that was done and every possible aspect of this thing is explored. It's a story first and foremost told with intention. It's aligned with a real business or revenue goal for the company telling it, but it's focused on a very particular narrative. I think the other really important things, these are human stories. Even though we might be going business to business, even though we're talking about enterprise level or organization level or team level solutions, we're still at the heart of this talking about someone who made a decision, evaluated things, had a pain, they acutely felt took a risk because every decision in business has some level of risk, got the outcome and the experience that they wanted and now we're putting them center stage to talk about that.
For us, it's really critical that we capture those human aspects and that includes things like emotion or consideration stages. We'll often tell stories about we'll try to incorporate the things that went really well and then also the ways the company pivoted and evolved and worked to satisfy that customer. So I think these are focus stories, they're human stories. And then I think the third piece, the leg of the stool is that they're engineered for the channels and audiences that you're trying to reach. And this one gets missed a lot, but one format does not do it all for you. Telling a deep dive 1500 word piece is great in some environments for ss e o or when you have someone who wants that level of detail, but in other scenarios you don't have that level of attention, that level of buy-in, even that level of informational need, you're drowning them, you're overwhelming them. That's where something like a one sheet or a video or some other way of expressing that story can carry it further. Drive more r o I appeal to someone in that channel or in that space or in that stage of consideration. So focused human and then I would say kind of tailored to the channel audiences broad but tailored to the channel and audience. I think those three things come together to really make stories effective.
Geordie Carswell (04:51):
Awesome. I think for us, our biggest challenge in creating case studies was to try and figure out how to tell a story, what was the before and after. And so I imagine you have a way that you phrase the questions when you're asking the participant so that you can coax that kind of answer out of them. It must be a bit of an art.
Joel Klettke (05:14):
Yeah, absolutely. I think there's a couple of really simple principles that can help anyone conduct a better interview and we've built on them and expand on 'em. I think number one is the old infomercial format before, during, after you're structuring it because your goal is to turn your interviewee into a storyteller. You're not there to interrogate them, you're not there to extract information. You are there to get them to tell a story. And so to do that, the second pillar is that the key is in the follow-up. It's asking open-ended questions that enable them to tell that story and then active listening in such a way that you can respond and you can dig and you can figure out where to press in or where to pull back. When we run interviews, what our interviewers I think are really great at is we try to get some context ahead of time.
We want to know from the high level what the story already is. We want to go deep instead of wide. You want to go in again with some intention behind what you're going to ask and how you're going to ask and where you're going to try to lead the conversation. That doesn't mean that you railroad the customer and go in there, you still have to respond to what they say, but you have some idea of where you're trying to take it. And then we really like to ask questions, what did that mean for you? What did that mean for your boss? What did that mean for your department? What did that make possible for you? Our interviewers also, there's kind of a phrasing of question that we found to be pretty effective and that is what made that so fill in the blank, what made that so frustrating?
What made that so effective? What made that so compelling? When you ask questions like these, what you're doing is disarming the person. They're going away from thinking, oh, I'm on a stage. I need to have the perfect soundbite. And you're bringing them into this organic kind of conversation where now it's just them talking about what they experienced, how they felt, how they made those decisions, and the gold comes on its own when you can take that kind of approach. So yes, you want to be structured, yes, you want to be intentional, but the key really is in that follow up, that active listening and then putting them in a place to be comfortable to share those details just automatically because of the way that you've phrased things to them. Interesting. So do you provide the questions ahead of time to the participant or how does that work?
Usually it depends on the situation. Normally wherever we can, we try to seed and work with our clients to seed some information so that they know the kinds of things they'll be asked. So particularly one of the big challenges for companies we hear all the time is we can't get metrics, we can't get metrics, we can't get impact statements. Well that's because most companies assume that their clients know these things at the drop of a hat and we'll just show up ready to talk about them. That's rarely the case. So we try to seed a little bit about here are the specifics of your story, we're hoping to dig into here are the metrics we'd love for you to come prepared for. But when it comes to the actual interview, it would be pretty rare for us. There are circumstances we do, I'll touch on in a second, but it would be rare for us to send the exhaustive planned question list in advance because we don't want them to show up sounding show rehearsed and wooden and that sort of thing.
So it's a fine line between helping them prep and then giving away the farm. There are cases where either you have to or it is actually in your best interest to share the question set and particularly there when you have high stakes video. So for example, you're going to do an on-location shoot. You want that person to, ideally you've done a pre-interview and you've discovered some of these, you want that person to know and be prepared and come ready with what you're going to ask them. You still want to again, leave room for serendipity and emotion and those kinds of things. The other way you're more forced into it is when legal or PR get involved. So if there is a really heavy handed PR legal team that's like, we need to know exactly the context and where the bumpers on the bowling l e r and we need to advise 'em, then you don't really have a choice. But my advice for companies is give them some specifics in terms of the goal of the story, the metrics you'd like to see, but unless they're explicitly asking for it, don't give them everything. They may find it overwhelming, they may over prepare.
Geordie Carswell (09:32):
Yeah, I could see if it sounds too scripted. It's just not going to have the, especially on the video front, right? It's not going to have the same ring to it. I get it. Yeah.
Joel Klettke (09:42):
Everybody can tell when they're reading a script, right? Everybody knows that. So you want to steer them away from that and make them, that ties into your previous question too, right? Make them feel confident with the kinds of questions you ask instead of, oh, I have to script my response.
Geordie Carswell (09:59):
And I guess too through the interview, part of it is making them feel comfortable to share, right?
Joel Klettke (10:06):
Geordie Carswell (10:07):
Yeah, I get it. Yeah, no, the wooden answers, we very much had good success. It was wonderful. Would buy again, that's not really what you're looking for quotes wise. No. Yeah. So what are some of the common mistakes that people make when putting together a case study in your experience?
Joel Klettke (10:25):
Yeah, I think contrasting what we talked about earlier of being intentional focused human and intentionally crafted. Some of the big mistakes are number one, I think creating these marketing's pet project. The reality for companies is these are a team sport marketing might be the champions responsible for driving the initiative ahead, but they will miss opportunities, real opportunities for r o i, for repurposing for true value by not consulting with sales or customer success or leadership or what have you. So that's a common mistake. Maybe not on a story level, but for programs as a whole, this is not just a marketing function, this isn't everybody function and your stories will be better if you have discussions around what are our goals, what gaps in our content are we trying to fill, what formats are going to enable these different teams to do what they need to do?
So one mistake is just leaving it totally up to marketing and not really making it a dialogue. I think the second thing is part and parcel with the idea of stories are better when they're catered to channels, but most companies, quite honestly, they tell the story one time, one way in one place. They publish it once, they never promote it again. They hope people just stumble across it. And so this mentality and the reason that happens often is there's such an effort to get the story in the first place that by the time it goes live and just happy they got the logo or got it out there that they just stop. But that lack of having a program or a plan for where you take it, what you do with it, I think that's a real big mistake. I think the third thing that I would highlight is really not being strategic again about the types of stories you tell.
I can name 10 different variations of a case study, everything from switcher stories highlighting people who left a particular competitor for you that can enable some campaigns. You can look at playbooks, how does someone, if it's appropriate for your space, tell a story of how the recipe, how they leveraged your tool or whatever it might be to achieve that result. You can tell stories that are, we call them disambiguated stories where the classic example I always turn to is there was an industrial air filtration company and they normally sold into warehouses, manufacturing, fiberglass, dust, that type of thing. Well, COVID comes along and all of a sudden they realize, you know what? There's a part of our offering we really haven't been pressing into. We've got all of this we compliance level filtration that we could be selling into places like gyms. People are nervous about coming back to gyms.
Having this air filtration in places is a selling point at this point. Well, to sell into those gyms, that's a very different buyer than an industrial manufacturer, what have you. So disambiguating, how your solution works in that kind of environment and how you appeal to a very different kind of buyer. You can tell that kind of story. You can tell stories that we call skeptic stories that are more focused on someone who almost didn't buy and what ultimately won them over. So being strategic about what goals you want these to support when you just treat a case study like any old win, like all right, here we go again, prompt solution results, it's all the same. You miss opportunities to give these the most utility possible. And then I said the last one was the last, but this really is the last one. The dumbest thing you can do is not involve the customer in a customer success story.
Clients, even our clients think sometimes it would be so much easier if we just didn't have to interview them or get their like, why can't we just put this together and then either just publish it or then ask them to sign off what's already created. Yeah, and that's a fast track to number one, weak stories. Your perspective is never going to be as compelling as your customers. Number two, pissing clients off. But if you disclose something by accident, if you make the mistake so many companies make of making your customer look like an idiot, for some reason when people start writing these or filming these, they have a tendency to really focus on making the customer look as dumb as possible so they look as great as possible. That's a real easy way to make sure your story never sees the light of day. So not including the customer is a trap. It will mean weaker stories, fewer approvals, it's easier in the moment, but it's not going to be a long-term path to success.
Geordie Carswell (14:58):
Interesting. Oh, this is gold. So I'm curious about this. You mentioned, we went through it very quickly that three kinds of stories you can tell. So one of them was a switcher, right? So maybe let's talk about that a little bit more. What do you mean by the switcher story and how does that look?
Joel Klettke (15:16):
Yeah, and I'll have to pull them up because my memory's, but we've identified over 10 different types, but focusing on switcher, a switcher story is, so let's say that you are in a very competitive space, you're in a very competitive space or you're a newcomer and you have stories of people who used to be on a different solution and they made the choice to come to you. That is a really compelling and really unique story because unlike a typical, maybe stereotypical case study, now you have the ability to not only tout your own benefits but sort of go on the attack. You can use these stories to position yourself against weaknesses in your competition or position yourself to show the advantages you have or the way you serve a particular market better. Like we've told stories as an example, HubSpot did a push to have stories where they highlighted people who've moved from Salesforce to HubSpot, big competition, HubSpot is the emerging competitor there.
As their suite grows in functionality and scope, they needed people to know they were a legitimate competitor and also to hear firsthand why would people leave the industry standard to go somewhere new? And those stories in turn can power all kinds of initiatives, remarketing, ss, e o, cold outreach, you name it, any campaign geared specifically towards countering that competition. Now you've got this killer proof to go alongside it, but you only capture that really if you're intentional about not only how you tell that story, but once step back who you ask to take part in the first place. And so having that goal be clear makes it easier for people to nominate candidates, easier to identify them, easier to make the ask easier to disambiguate what you might be asking them in their story. So it's a chain reaction of strategy through to focused asset.
Geordie Carswell (17:19):
Wow, there's more to that than I thought once you get into it. That's awesome. So the switcher, now you mentioned sort of 10, I won't ask you to list them all off, but what are some other examples? I'm curious on this
Joel Klettke (17:32):
Other example of switchers or other examples of story types
Geordie Carswell (17:36):
Or just types of stories, sorry.
Joel Klettke (17:38):
Yeah, so some of the ones, there's those switcher stories. There's what we call skeptic stories where again, the bulk of the story focuses actually on the early decision making process and process really lays bare their concerns. And then in the results section you spend a little bit more time talking about how a solution actually addressed those concerns and overcame those objections. For software, what's really common, well underutilized, but a common scenario is implementation stories. So often we want to wait until the customer's had some gigantic win with our platform, but a successful implementation is often story enough for people at that phase of consideration where they're going, is this going to take six months to a year? Will my team actually adopt it? What's going to, what could possibly go wrong? So we've told entire stories just about the experience of implementation and the wonderful thing is if you tell those stories, well hey, if someone goes on the record for that piece, it's a shoe-in now to go back to them a year later and say, now we want to update this story and add to it.
So there's implementation stories, skeptic stories, we talked about switcher stories, that disambiguate story example where you're talking about how you fit into a new market. There's playbook stories. A company that does an amazing job of these is mutiny. If you go to Mutiny hq, you go to their playbooks. What you're going to see, what I love in these stories is it's, it's very customer centric. It's how X client basically uses, it's a risk for how they use mutiny to achieve a goal, how they built what they needed to build on the back of Mutiny. But then you go into the story and there's this section at the top that's quietly brilliant and it's what you'll learn. It makes a promise right off the hop in the story, what you're going to learn from the story and then what you'll need and it shows this is the stack or these are the things you might need.
And then when you go into the story, yes, it's a success story practically laid out as you walk through, this is what they did and it was successful, but it's also this very actionable by the time you get to the end of that, if you're thinking I need to build a similar solution, not only are you convinced that it can work, you're also probably convinced Mutiny can do it. And because Mutiny is inherent in the solution, you're going, okay, I need Muni. It's part of what I would need to action. And so those playbook stories can be phenomenal. There's also what we would call these are again, less common, but buying board stories. So this would be a multi perspective. Often in b2b you've got a whole bunch of people with a whole bunch of considerations, all committee, and so one way to come at that is to do this cross section type of story.
It's tough to execute a lot of different perspectives and you want to keep that narrative cohesive and concise. So sometimes things like layout or structure will change, but these types of buying board stories is where you might sample multiple perspectives, bring them together to make a case for the product and that sort of thing. So there are all that to say. I mean, if you're listening this, the takeaway here is you don't have to tell boilerplate just problem solution results. You can be very intentional about what you want this story to do for you, how you want to appeal to different people, what aspect of your offering or the relationship you want to highlight. And there are many ways to come at that.
Geordie Carswell (21:05):
Awesome. Yeah, no, that's fantastic information. I think now I'm thinking back to our case studies and our goals and I think we need to take a minute look at things again and make sure we got a little bit of something else. But I think too that it seems like there are various types of stories that would fit into various points in the buyer's journey. And just to say we have three case
Joel Klettke (21:26):
Geordie Carswell (21:27):
You go, sales,
Joel Klettke (21:28):
That's why it's so important, especially it doesn't really matter what stage you're at. For some companies early stage, you're thinking, we don't have a huge client base. We can't really pick a choose. Okay, yes, you probably want to start by just starting to get a story together, get something out there. But as your company matures, when we look at, we've served over 350 different clients over the years, and when I isolate the top 1% of that client base and I look at what is it that they did differently that enabled them to do everything from produce at scale to drive more r o i to get approval to all of this, we have a piece we've put together about this that you can share in the show notes and people can dig into. But what it really comes down to is they build infrastructure as a, they don't treat these like an asset, they treat them like a program, they do a multi-team approach.
There are processes and systems that inform strategy at the beginning. What types of stories do we need, whether it's for this quarter or for this year, there's systems in place for who is making the ask how and when there's systems in place for what happens after that point to make sure the right expectation is set so stories don't die on the table later on. And then they're really intentional about where are we going to use this thing, where are we going to deploy it? And I would say in the early stages of our company especially, we learned from them, it was by seeing what the most successful we're doing that we went, ah, we could be enabling this, we could be making this easier, and we've had seven plus years to just look at this set of problems and go, okay, even now we're still seeing and discovering new ways of coming out of it. But it's kind of like what you said earlier. For me when I started it was like my mentality is stories a story and how hard could it be? And now seven years later, I'm still learning things about where and how. No, it's good and use these.
Geordie Carswell (23:30):
Yeah, no, it's good. And I think too, we've seen some of our clients even roll webinars into that program. So they'll bring the client on a webinar, they'll shoot a segment with them and then weave it into a webinar. Then it builds into their lead gen efforts and things like that too. So that's really cool. Awesome. So obviously stats are a huge part of, you want to show x percent improvement in Y area, but what do you do when the client either won't share them or maybe doesn't have them?
Joel Klettke (24:08):
Yeah, this is a really, really common problem. I think to take it a step back even further, how do we maximize our odds of getting stats in the first place? So let's start there because a lot of people think, oh, my clients have no stats, and then when you really impact, it's like you're not making it easy for them to have stats. So I think the first thing is, we mentioned earlier if you want to get metrics in your story, there's a handful of things that you can be doing to empower that. Number one, look at your normal cadence of comms with clients and ask yourself, honestly, do we make talking about KPIs normal? Is this part of our regular dialogue? Because if it's not, that's something you can start changing today. How can we put some accountability and ownership across talking about outcomes and reminding customers of why they came in and how we're tracking against that?
The second thing is you concede, again, this is why we try to work with clients to seed a little bit ahead of the call. These are the types of things we'd love for you to come prepared with that gives you some foresight. If they come back and say, I have none of that, at least you can be intentional about either. Number one, finding a way to surface metrics, which I'll talk about in a second, or number two, steering the interview in another direction. So let's say, okay, the client is reticent to share. They're thinking we don't want to share metrics. What are your options? How do you come at that? We kind of approach it in a staged approach. The first thing is, okay, we do want to try wherever possible to get a metric. You can tell amazing stories without metrics, but where we can get when we want one.
So the first thing we'll do when someone says, I don't want to share a metric, we want to understand what's motivating the no, is it that they don't know their numbers or is it that they won't share their numbers? The approach is very different. If they don't know them, then we can be proactive about trying to help them either discover those or discover a proxy they're comfortable with. We can work with them to do some math, some estimation that they're comfortable putting their name behind. If they won't share their numbers, our options are similar but different. We may start with them by saying, is there a way we can treat the number that feels less sensitive to you? Instead of saying this specific financial metric, could we give a range? Could we give a percentage? Could we extrapolate? Is there a way, in an extreme case, could we, this is going to sound bonkers, I know we might talk about later, but could we anonymize the story in favor of preserving the metric and going really deep into the methodology?
Sometimes that trade-off is worth it, but in the absence of metrics, let's say no matter what you do, a metric's not going to show up. You just know, okay, they're not tracking or they're not comfortable. What can you do to tell a really great story? Again, that comes back down to your goals. I think we have to remember that metrics get the clicks, they might get the eyeballs, but purchase decisions aren't just made by metrics. When I consider who I want to hire as an agency, yes, my concern is can they get results? But my other concerns are things like how do they communicate? Do they have experience in my space? How do they think through problems? Have they helped the company go public or become a unicorn? Those have no metrics associated, but they sound pretty darn good for someone who has that same aspirational goal. So you look in that case for more qualitative criteria people evaluate you on or a more qualitative kind of outcomes they might be looking for.
Geordie Carswell (27:49):
Interesting. I never thought about the let's intentionally anonymize this. If it makes that we can get it done right, which wow, that's a great idea. Yeah, no, please go ahead.
Joel Klettke (28:03):
Like I say, it's rare, but I have seen situations where again, the trade-off is worth it. And what I mean by that is let's say you have achieved a really great outcome for someone that's really metrics driven and their concern is sensitivity. Well, sometimes anonymity is a gift because if they know they're not going to be named, well now the gloves are really off, you can still preserve quotes from them in the story because you can attribute them a little bit differently. But when a client knows they're going to be anonymous and knows that things like their strategy or whatever won't be attributed back to them, won't be exposed. Sometimes that grants you the ability to go really, really deep in terms of metrics, in terms of methodology, in terms of strategy, sometimes the trade-off is there where you can really put what you did and your thinking and your strategy on display and that trade-off handled well, yes, you lose the logo, but you can still tell a really compelling and believable story. The trade-off is the detail, and sometimes that's a off worth making.
Geordie Carswell (29:16):
Interesting. I think if we just peel into this, we have a lot of cybersecurity companies that are clients of ours, and any CISO or any senior mature IT person is not going to likely disclose what tool they're using and paint a target on their back. And so you end up with a lot of cybersecurity solutions providers or companies that find that we just can't get past the anonymous thing. And so there's kind of this giving up and going, well, it's just not possible. But I like that idea that maybe you can lean into it and maybe you could even say at the beginning as most organizations are not going to disclose who they're using for X, Y, and Z. However, we have an organization would like to tell a story and they're going to remain anonymous for obvious reasons and just lean into it.
Joel Klettke (30:18):
Totally. So what I love that this naturally went here because one client that we work, we do a lot of work for cybersecurity and one of our clients in this space, we've done over 80 stories. They're a cybersecurity company and they have over at this point, I think we may even be past a hundred case studies. And it's exactly what you're saying. When the expectation in the space is that of anonymity, it's no longer a hindrance because now you're on an even playing field. If I as a lead, I'm going, I would never go on the record. I'm okay with someone else not going on the record. And we do exactly actually what you described. We lead in the story by saying the names and roles of this story have been anonymized by request. And still people relate to that, right? They understand it. People, we tend to treat markets like these just totally mindless beings who have no real thought process behind the way they consume content, but people get it, they understand, and if I'm the c e O of Walmart or whatever it might be, I know we've got policies internally against the name stories and going on the record in that way.
So for me to see that you've called out that a major retailer, an international retailer didn't want to put their name to it, well, okay, I can live with that. I get it. And that doesn't need to undermine the credibility of the story.
Geordie Carswell (31:50):
Yeah, I think that makes perfect sense. And I think too, you're seeing clients, it's not just cybersecurity, a lot are just simply not willing to go there just because they don't, there's sensitive information, especially if metrics are shared, but if you can take those shackles off, just lean into it and maybe have a good result. Definitely. Now let's talk a little bit about video versus written. So obviously it's a do both, but video is a challenge, so not everybody's going to get a sit down opportunity. How do you guys approach video with prospects?
Joel Klettke (32:29):
Yeah, people are really polarized on this topic. There are people that will tell you don't even bother with written. Nobody reads these days a video's going to carry the whole story, and if you put anything written together, it's just going to get ignored. And so we kind of smile along with that and then we look at our clients who have deployed, they'll track influenced a r r against a handful of stories we've done and it's like in the millions. They're like, yeah, no, people are actually consuming this. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum, you have people that just don't invest in video because like you say, it's more expensive or it's more inconvenient or they block their own shot and say, oh, clients will never get in front of a camera. That's just not who they're, so I think number one, a shift in mentality benefits.
Everybody here video is an amazing medium and sometimes it's the best. No other medium is going to give you the body language, the voice and tone. They're literally sitting or standing there advocating for you. And so whenever video is a possibility, absolutely I recommend chasing it, but at the same time, we need to recognize video's got its own limitations. Oftentimes a one sheet in a cold sale scenario, if a video shows up in your inbox from a company you've never heard of that is for some people in an instant red flag where I'm not going to click that there's some kind of weird tracking, I'm going to see I open it, whatever might be a one sheet might do you better. So when we talk about operationalizing video and okay, knowing that the bar is a little bit higher or perceived, the perceived friction is a little bit higher, how do we come at that?
I think the first thing I'd say is we are living in the video era. It's difficult at this. It's more rare at this point for someone to really be against getting on camera in some way. They may be nervous about it, but most people have taken a zoom call or they've been part of these different things, and so people are more comfortable with video than ever. I think when you're pitching video, you want to make sure pitching involvement in video, you want to make sure go out of your way and make sure that they feel a sense of comfort and a sense of control. A sense of control is letting them know you're going to have an opportunity to review, make sure you're comfortable with how you're presented. We advise that with every format we do, but video, it's just as important. And then comfort.
You build comfort by demonstrating that there's a thought process and you've thought of ways to make them comfortable. So for us, that's little things like letting them know there's going to be a producer there who is there to make you look and sound your best and ensure you come across really well. For live events, for example, it's about creating an environment, small little things that you would think wouldn't matter, like charging stations or wifi or some refreshments or again, the presence of a producer. All of these are little things that help put people at ease. I think the other thing is that is where it is so critical to have someone experienced doing the interview itself because interviewers don't just serve the role of surfacing the story, they also serve the role of calming nerves, building rapport and bringing the best out of that person.
And so where a producer is there to help them feel comfortable with the lighting and framing and setup and make them feel really confident and comfortable, the interviewer is there to again, put them at ease and get that information out of them. And a simple tactic for this that we try to get our team to use and that anyone listening can try, so simple epic encouragement when someone's on camera or in any interview, they are thinking themselves, am I giving you what you need? Are my responses good? Am I telling a good story? Is this going well? And so for an interviewer, one of the best things you can do is these small bits of epic encouragement. That's a really great response. Or, oh, I'm glad I get to talk to you about this. You really know your stuff. It has to be genuine, but these kinds of little comments, that's a fascinating answer or That's really interesting.
Tell me more. These are little tiny things that on their own don't seem like much, but make a huge difference. If you're making someone feel actively, like they're crushing it in the interview, they start to live up to that expectation. And so that's a really simple thing that I think we've learned over time is a little bit of epic encouragement along the way. Little jabs of just like, that's really great, you really know this. What a good response. I'd love to hear you say more things like that. That goes a long way too in the moment, making your video come out as strong as possible.
Geordie Carswell (37:21):
I think I could have given you some more epic encouragement here today, Joel. That's awesome. I'll say that's awesome. It was an excellent response. I'll try and put it into practice right now. That's good. I know your team even will send a light lighting and microphone to the client that they can just keep to make them look good on camera, which I think is really, I think it's awesome. I think it shows them that you want the outcome to be good for them and for you.
Joel Klettke (37:54):
The other piece of it is when they feel prepared, and that's why I say especially for video, that's where seeding is important and kind of giving them a sense of what might be talked about, making them feel like I've got the right gear for the job. We will also send in advance kind of a little bit of a setup sort of one sheet where it's like, here's how to make sure your environment is looking good and don't worry too much if you're not nailing it, our producer's can be there to help you, but here's some guidelines and instructions. All those little things add up to just better video. And I think the thing, especially with remote video that you have to acknowledge, and it's one of the toughest things about making this part of our offering is you are walking into an uncontrolled environment. And so with an on-location shoot, you have so much control over seating, lighting, framing, environment, all of it.
So you're guaranteed an epic outcome if you do your job right with remote video. That's why we send that stuff. We want good lighting, we want good framing. That's why at the beginning of the call, we might ask them to adjust their space a little bit or gently ask them to reposition or move. And then beyond that, I mean you have to have a team that can block and tackle because we've had people that had dogs with collars, rattling in the background. We've had people's heaters come on halfway through and now you're getting a hum in the audio. We've had people have piece of hair that keeps falling in. You have to know how to gently respond to, Hey, could you just brush that aside? It all sounds so simple until you try to do it and then you realize there really is an art to capturing all of that. We'll still try to make sure sound bites are succinct and good for video, all that stuff. So there's a lot of considerations, but there's a ton you can do to make people feel comfortable, confident, like they're crushing it, prepared, all of that stuff.
Geordie Carswell (39:52):
No, and your team does. I've been impressed with everything they've done for us. The way that that has pulled off, even though somebody's in their living room, it still looks great. And I think too, as we get into the U G C age or user generated content, are you seeing companies maybe even lean in a little bit to just asking the customer to grab their phone and just shoot a little? I mean, we see that in e-commerce and things like that, but what about b2b?
Joel Klettke (40:19):
I think so much comes down to there are trade-offs with everything. So I think it's becoming more acceptable to have this kind of raw self shot aesthetic, and I think that a lot of brands have been reticent to embrace that, but you are starting to see, especially with TikTok and things like that, it becoming to some degree less about the polish, but the big trade-off is story. So you can definitely, in e-commerce, the stakes are not that high because if I'm doing a product review and basically saying I love the product or whatever, it's pretty easy for me as an individual to sort give you something close to what you need. The tricky thing is the trade-off you make when you go asynchronous versus live interview is with asynchronous, you get what you get and you don't get upset. And if that person is well-spoken and comes with details and can relay their emotions and can follow a good narrative and respond well to the prompts you've given them, you might get something amazing, right?
I'm not going to sit here and go, no, ours is the only way to come at it. I mean, we've looked at asynchronous, but you legitimately can get something really good, but more often than not, if that person, anything can go wrong when you're not intervening, if their lighting and framing is weird, the raw aesthetic is fine. What we've learned the hard way is people can live with as a viewer, maybe not the perfect display, but if that audio is bad, it's over. They're not watching, they're not continuing. The other thing is you're kind of at the mercy of what they have to say and how they say it. If they give you a big run run on sentence for five minutes, that's going to be really hard to edit because yes, you want raw and real, but nobody's sitting through that. Nobody is watching that, right?
So I think there's really great options and opportunities. I think asynchronous is wonderful for scale. I think if all you want is a testimonial soundbite, that whole, it's really great, we stand behind it. Asynchronous is probably the cheaper, more scalable way to go, but if your goal is to support a focused narrative and you want to get the gold out of the, you don't want to leave that up to chance. That's where the live interview, I think still has a big role to play. So they're both great solutions. It just depends on your goals, the type of footage you're after, and ultimately the person giving you the content
Geordie Carswell (43:04):
And you don't have to go back to them and say, we got to redo this, and it could end up in a wheel that's run around it. No,
Joel Klettke (43:13):
Especially if they're busy, unless you're on amazing terms with them or you're ready to incentivize them to go do it again, what you get what you get and you don't get upset. What's there to work with is there to work with.
Geordie Carswell (43:27):
No, it's a good point. What do you see in terms of the optimal length for a case study video, like your prototypical case study video? What minute and a half, two minutes, three
Joel Klettke (43:37):
Minutes? Yeah. I think there's two primary and maybe three cuts I think serve most of the functions you'll need. The first is if you are doing ads or you're making a push in an ad campaign, a single statement like ten second video is probably, it is worth testing against longer variations if you've got a really great statement or hook, because again, that gives you the ability to steer attention elsewhere. We by default always give clients a 32nd ish variant, which we call the highlight, so it's a little longer than that tech at 10 seconds, but we see that play nicely on social and embedded within pieces and that kind of thing. And then for us, there's no hard handed limit, but we kind of see attention start dwindle after the kind of 2 33 minute mark. Unless you're really doing some fantastic editing and really making it compelling.
It's hard to hold attention beyond that point. It's also, the other side of it is what's the edit like, because two 30 of just a talking head is not that compelling to watch. You want to have transitions. You want to ideally have, whether it's animations or stock footage or B roll or whatever's available to you, you want to try to, even with remote video, vary it up a bit so that I'm entertained, I'm engaged, there's something different for me to look at. So even when you're pressing into those longer versions, two minute, 33 minute beyond the editing, the importance of great editing just continues to increase. I think there's some interesting emerging stuff happening. So for example, what we're starting to see people play with, I wouldn't say it's standard or perfected by any means, but we're starting to see people produce video that kind of has the ability to jump straight to the question you have or the content you want or the role that you relate to.
So there's some interesting technical solutions coming up where you can have these 10 minute videos, but it's this almost choose your own adventure type of experience where based on what you want to learn next, it takes you to different spots in the video. And I think that's cool and I'm curious to play around with it. But yeah, we generally, from our bias perspective, from what we see with our clients, we tend to see attention drop like a stone. Once you're past that three minute mark, there's nothing magic about that, but unless it's a really, really well done video, keeping it a little tighter is going to play to your benefit for sure.
Geordie Carswell (46:22):
Yeah, and we've actually taken our videos that your team did for us and taken the highlights piece and used that as a LinkedIn ad creative and then actually split it up into even the highlights piece. We split up into, like you said, the ten second quick hit, quick hits, and the click-through rate is very, very good, and especially the ones that are results-based, it used to be like this now it's like this, and then click through, and that's actually been some of our best performing LinkedIn ad creative for so far, so you can repurpose it for those types of campaigns as well.
Joel Klettke (47:05):
Geordie Carswell (47:05):
This has been great, Joel. I mean, we want to get to a couple other things that we had on the docket for you here. Let's talk internal approval processes trying to get this thing okayed to go out. Your participant might be all over it, but their legal team, their management, their whatever, how do you guys, any tips for navigating that?
Joel Klettke (47:27):
Yeah, this is another place where the greatest kind of measures you can take are proactive ones early on if you're trying to solve this retroactively at the end, you've kind of put yourself in a tougher situation. So there's what you can do today and then there's what you should engineer for the future and what you want to arrive at in the end. When again, looking at that top 1%, what do they do differently in terms of approvals that makes this easier for them? I think number one, we've seen them take a, especially in the enterprise escalating approach to the ask in the first place. So for initial buy-in, they don't just dump this all in a client's head with a giant email with a whole bunch of, will you do this, will you do that? They stage the ask, and normally the first email or the first call might be just to gauge overall interest.
If the stars aligned, would this be something you would be open to participating in something every company can do and start doing today to improve their approval rates is you need some means of empowering your point of contact to sell this internally and make people aware of what's going on. One of the simplest ways you can do that is give 'em a pitch packet, give 'em a one sheet that basically says, this is the process. This is what's covered, this is what we're angling for and this is where it might be used. And also make sure to detail, you have final say in what goes live and it's going to be convenient. And so arming your point of contact because what people don't realize is that often in B two B especially, they're using up some of their internal capital for you. They're going to bat, they've got some equity they've built up internally, they're putting their neck out for you.
The easier you can make that for them to say, Hey, pr, hey, legal, I'd like to take part in this here as a quick packet, outlining what they're hoping to do and how it might be used and the types we might be asking and so on and forth, that makes it easier for them to, because sometimes you hear that, oh, it's not going to get approved. They're not even asking. They just don't want to expend that capital to try to do. It's so overwhelming for them that they don't do it. There's a really awesome tie into webinars actually. Something we've learned over time is it can, especially in sensitive spaces, it can be easier to get your client on a stage than in an interview. It can be easier to get them to agree to do a webinar where they are teaching and naturally dovetail some kind of story or endorsement into that.
Then to lead with a case study. And so we will see again, this idea of escalating commitment, looking for small ways they've already put their hand up. So have they done an N P S score survey? Have they done a customer feedback survey? Have they done whatever? That helps identify who might be willing to take part. And then if you're hearing a no on the case study, go to a webinar, go get 'em on a stage, find some way that they can teach, and that can be another route to getting this kind of pure proof.
Another tactic that can prove effective or something at least to evaluate is who is making the ask? Because that can be as important as how you ask, and so who's making the ask? It should be someone who falls into one of two categories or both, either who is the most familiar to the customer, so who do they know or who is most authoritative? So if you have a well-known C-suite person in the company, maybe they've got a bridge to someone at the C-suite in that other company, clout actually can matter. If I know the request is coming from a high up, that might motivate me a little more as legal or PR or the point of contact to operationalize that or both. The ideal is if you have someone authoritative and familiar, that is your best person to position the ask and continue it on. I'll close out this thought by saying one of the reasons that these stories die on the table or don't get approved, two of the reasons, one is you move too slowly. So the ities shift, the slips down the priority list for your customer and they just ghost because they get distracted.
The second reason, now, of course, I'm going to lose my train of thought on the second reason. So the first is it can slip down. The second reason is because you made them, I alluded to this earlier, you made them look like an idiot if you have not been careful about the line you walk when especially presenting the challenge they were facing. That is why everyone thinks it's the results that are contentious and sure they can be, but it's often what kills these things is the way you framed it in the challenge. If you made them look like a damsel or a dude in distress or some hapless idiot that you saved, you've made it really hard on yourself to get approval. Yeah.
Geordie Carswell (52:24):
Oh man. Yeah, that's so helpful. I think we've seen the cadence of things be really important, like the speed from getting it done recorded and then getting it approved is so key because time is the enemy on these things, it seems like. Well, Joel, this has been fantastic. I mean, one of the things I always like to ask people is what questions we should have asked you that we didn't ask? Any thoughts there?
Joel Klettke (52:54):
I think one that's a hot button topic for everybody, just to some degree is like, how's AI going to change this? Everyone's kind of wondering for everything these days is, how's AI going to change this? And I think we've played around and we've tried things out. I think there are huge opportunities in the near term for repurposing. I think there's lots of ways to leverage AI to take something that's human created and then iterate on it, but the danger right now for the state of things is these are high stakes assets because reputations and sensitive data and so on are involved. So I think we're still pretty far from generating something truly strategic and meaningful in a way that is safe, especially when you consider training models and that kind thing. I think the other question is how should we measure the R O I of these things?
How do we know it's working? And it can be slippery. People go, what's the R O I of a case study? How do you pin that down? And I just want to leave some ideas because so much depends on how you leverage it. But some things to think about, can you benchmark your before and after in terms of sales cycle? Are you shortening your sales cycles? Can you benchmark your before and after in sales confidence? How confident are they that they're going to close a particular type of deal? Can you look at if you're doing cold outreach, positive response rates, is your response rate higher when you mention a case study or share one? Or do you get more responses when you name drop or share these things? That's another way to look. You can look at conversion rates or conversions to demo or inquiry on remarketing, especially.
We've had clients see great success in terms of when someone's expressed an interest by visiting certain content on the site instead of an ad that takes them to a landing page, pushed to a storage and benchmark that, how does that compare to some of the other campaigns you're running? All of these that influenced M R R A R, like looking at how often do they interact with a case study and the process and different CRMs will make that easy for you For ad campaigns. Again, benchmarking. How does this LinkedIn creative perform against other LinkedIn creative compared to the things you're already doing? See how that works. So that's a question I get a lot that people, they believe in case studies, maybe their boss, like, how do I prove the juices worth the squeeze? And those are some,
Geordie Carswell (55:23):
Yeah, especially if you're outsource, I mean, it's not free activity, right? There's some effort, there's some investment involved, and you have to, yeah. No, I like it. So Joel, how can people get in touch with you?
Yeah, I think number one, case study buddy.com, we have a blog where there are tons of pieces on how we come at this, how you can come at this. There's a lot you can learn there. We have a newsletter that we share ideas and tips and resources and examples fairly often, so that's a pretty low pressure way to check things out. If you don't know if we're a good fit for you, you can also contact us through there. And for me personally on LinkedIn, I don't always respond quickly. I do always respond. So always happy to jam on ideas and chat there. And then Twitter, I'm not all business all the time. We're coming into hockey season, so I will prevent my inevitable frustration with the Calgary Flames at some point, but I'm happy to connect there as well.
Awesome. Well, this has been fantastic and I think our clients and listeners are going to it really interesting too, and hopefully have some success in how they go to market with their case studies. So thanks very much. That's a wrap for the pod and we appreciate everybody being on today. We'll talk to you soon. Cheers.
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