Q: As an MSP business owner, I’m struggling to convert one of my break-fix customers to managed services. I think it would be helpful to show them a case study that details a situation where one of my other customers found value in my managed services offering. But, I’m not sure how to go about creating a case study and how to get the most out of it once it’s created. What tips do you have?
You’re on the right track. There’s no better way to showcase the value in your services than through the voice of your satisfied customers. Buyers often look for third-party validation when making a purchasing decision, so being able to share a meaningful customer story can make all the difference in the conversion process.
Finding your story
The first thing you should do is review current customers that have already successfully transitioned to your managed services. Compile a list of those customers and think about which ones have benefited most from your offering.
If you make it a habit to keep in touch with customers and to note their feedback and successes along the way, it makes your job much easier when it comes time to think of one with a compelling story who would be willing to offer their testimonial for your managed services offering.
If you don’t know which customers are good candidates for a case study, now is a great time to reach out and begin growing your customer relationships. Try sending out quarterly or bi-annual surveys to get customers’ feedback. Doing this will help you better service your customers — and identify customers you might want to profile in your next case study.
Once you find the right customer with a positive experience who’s willing to participate, you’ll want to tell the story in a way that resonates with your prospective customers.
Telling the story effectively
The purpose of a case study is to explain a situation where a customer experienced a challenge they were able to overcome using your services. Knowing this, we went to Lindsay Faria, senior partner marketing manager at Intronis MSP Solutions, to learn the best practices for creating a case study. Lindsay is constantly interacting with our MSP partners and helps identify the right candidates for our own case studies. Here are Lindsay’s tips:
Tip #1: Interview customers
Creating a case study starts with an interview with the customer. Having a scheduled meeting in person or over the phone will help you to get the most pertinent information. Before starting your interview, make sure you have a list of questions you would like to ask the customer. This will help you make the best use of your customer’s valuable time — something they will appreciate! If there is a particular angle you want to take with the success story, for example, if it’s specifically about the transition from break-fix to managed service, make sure that is incorporated in the questions you prepare. Take detailed notes or ask permission to record the conversation in order to get accurate quotes from the interview.
Tip #2: Showcase a measureable impact
This also relates to the questions you ask. You want to pose questions that can be answered in terms of detailed numbers or useful quotes regarding their experience with your services. For example, try to uncover an impressive result that they couldn’t have achieved without your help. This could be anything from “cut costs by X amount” to “made networking speed 2x faster” or “generated X amount in new sales.” Any of these types of quantifiable results will demonstrate the value to the reader. Be sure to get a quote from the customer highlighting this achievement, and, of course, ask the customer to approve any quotes before you use them.
Tip #3: Use a compelling title
After the interview, come up with a strong title for the story. This is the first line of text prospective customers will read, so it should draw them in to read more. When possible, work numbers or key words into the title. This resonates well with readers. For example, quantify the amount of data you recovered after the customer experienced a data loss event.
As a best practice, focusing on what happened and the benefit to the customer is more important than including the company name in the title (unless your customer is one that you really want to name-drop, like Coca-Cola or Amazon!) For the title, the most important thing is making sure it summarizes the story in a way that will compel prospects to read on.
Tip#4: Format for skim readers
Whether you’re using a desktop publishing program like Adobe InDesign or you stick to Microsoft Word, you want to make sure to lay out the text in a way that’s easy to read and skim quickly. Not every reader will get through the whole story, so include call outs, bolded text, colors, and enough white space and graphics to help readers find the most important elements of the story. Also, as you format the text, make sure it follows this path: challenge, solution, result. This will help those skimming the story take away the key points.
Tip #5: Leverage the stories in newsletter or email spotlights
Once you’ve finalized the case study and the customer has approved the final draft, you should share it on your website. If you send a newsletter to your customers, highlight the story in the next one you send out. You can also spotlight the case study in a dedicated email for prospective or current customers.
If the content in the case study would help the featured customer in their own sales and marketing, make it available to them in some way. For example, we created a case study for one of our Partners, Internet & Telephone, and a separate one telling the story from the perspective of their customer, the Eastern Yacht Club. In the case study, we detailed how Internet & Telephone was able to recover the yacht club’s data after a three-alarm fire, all in time to meet the next day’s payroll for their employees. This meant that our Partner got a piece of marketing material to leverage out of the process, and they can use it to tell their story to future prospective customers.
Following Lindsay’s tips, you should be on your way to creating a case study that will be useful in your sales efforts. After you finish the first one, you’ll want to think about creating additional case studies for each type of customer you service. You can segment based on the size of the customer, their location, their industry vertical, or subject matter, such as a recovery situation, a successful HIPAA audit, or a resolved networking issue. However you choose to segment your case studies, the most important thing to remember is to clearly define a challenge faced by a customer and a subsequent solution and result provided by your IT managed services.
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.