A step-by-step how-to on conducting effective marketing case studies + sample questions.
Effective case studies depend on quality writing, but even more important than the writing itself is the data you collect to transform your argument. Without talking to the right people and asking the right questions, your writer won’t be able to create a compelling, data-rich story.
Case study interviews aren’t difficult, but given their level of detail, it’s important to prepare accordingly so you can capitalize on every opportunity to turn prospective clients into your actual clients.
How to Prepare for a Case Study Interview
We covered some excellent preparation tips in a previous blog post, but it’s important not to underscore this portion of your research. As a general rule, you should be able to answer the following questions before proceeding with an interview:
- Why did I choose this client for a case study?
- Is my chosen subject willing and available to conduct an interview?
- How will I record the conversation, and is the subject willing to be recorded?
- Is my subject someone my prospective clients can relate to?
- Why am I doing this case study? What goals should I expect to achieve?
- How do I plan to use this case study in my marketing?
The answers to some of these questions may seem obvious, but it’s important to consider how they relate to the bigger picture. When you combine each of the above into a larger goal, you’re better positioned to let that goal guide the case study process.
How to Conduct an Epic Case Study Interview
Finding a subject to interview and getting on their calendar can be challenging. But once you do find an ideal subject, you don’t want all that hard work to go to waste by not asking the right questions. Effective case studies aren’t just about what you say, but also how you say it.
Technically, it’s the client’s story, but you’re in charge of crafting what you want your audience to know. The questions should be designed to put both of you in a positive light and make prospective clients want to do business with you.
Use our discussion guide to navigate your interview so that you can, in turn, write an epic case study:
Allow each person in the interview to introduce themselves, their job title, and their role in working with your company. Your interview subject should be someone your company has worked with directly and have first-hand knowledge of the successes they’ve achieved.
Objective and Agenda
Set the objective and agenda for the interview up-front. This can help establish a timeline so participants can stay on track (and hopefully complete the interview faster).
Your audience will want to know a little about the company they’re reading about. A brief company bio can add credibility to the case study and help the reader find commonalities between that company and their own, which will put your content into perspective. In addition, it’s good publicity for the subject, which can increase their willingness to participate in the case study.
Some questions you might ask:
- How long has your company been around?
- What led to your founding?
- How big is your company (e.g., number of employees, locations, etc.) and your team?
- What is your main product/service?
- Who are the clients you serve?
- What makes you stand out from your competitors?
You don’t need to go into too much detail here. The bulk of the interview should focus on the problem and solution.
The ‘Before’ Picture
There’s a reason your client signed up for your product or service—what was it? Whether you’re solving a significant business challenge or simply helping your clients cut costs or save time, you’ll want to highlight what life was like before you became their trusted partner.
Here are some sample questions to ask:
- What were the main challenges you were trying to overcome?
- How were these challenges impacting your business?
- Had you attempted to solve this problem in the past? If so, what were the results?
- What were your desired goals?
- What KPIs were you using to measure your success?
Deciding to Work with Your Company
One of the biggest pros of case studies is highlighting the client’s turning point in choosing you as a solution. This can help other companies relate to the subject and see how their own situation stacks up.
Some sample questions to include:
- What prompted you to make a change?
- Why our company versus a competitor?
- How did you convince leadership to make this change?
The ‘After’ Picture
The case study resolution should focus on the end result—how the problem was solved and what life is like after implementing your solution. Ideally, you should collect specific data points to support your client’s claims.
Some example questions:
- What were your initial expectations? Were those expectations met or exceeded?
- What was the implementation process like?
- What is it like working with our team?
- How do you define and measure the success of our partnership?
- How soon did you start seeing results, and what did those results look like?
- Why do you continue doing business with us?
- Were there any specific experiences that stood out to you as a major win?
- What about our company would make you recommend us to others?
Pro tip: Before the interview, you can do some research to collect examples of your latest work with the client to get them talking.
As a final question, ask the client if they have anything else they’d like to share. This can be a great opportunity to get natural-sounding quotes to sprinkle throughout the case study.
Before you end the interview, provide a brief summary of the key points you heard during the discussion. Reviewing the highlights of what you plan to include in the written case study ensures you and your client are on the same page before you put pen to paper. Plus, it will stir their excitement for reading the final product.
Once you conduct your case study interview, it’s a good idea to work with an experienced writer who can turn your data into a compelling story. Let the Content Pros team help you get the most from your case study interviews—reach out today for a consultation!