Here’s a simple way to turn boring case studies into something your market will actually care about.
Instead of asking leading questions – absolutes – that result in boring, canned, you-centric answers… For example: Why did you start looking for a new widget?
Use Alex Blumberg’s (Award-winning host of This American Life) favorite phrase: Tell me about the time….
Instead of getting a canned response what you’ll get is a story. Emotion. The guts of the thing.
And the story – with your customer as the hero at the center – is what people actually care about.
The results, yes. But without the how – the story and proof of how the results came about – the results don’t feel real. It’s just another empty promise.
You’re a skeptic. I’m a skeptic. Everyone’s a skeptic. Simply saying you achieved some result doesn’t make it true. It doesn’t make it feel real. It doesn’t make someone care.
The story is what turns skeptics into believers. The story of the how. The results – yes – they’re there. They’re the punchline. But the how is the meat.
Here’s an example I found in the Meclabs quarterly research study to bring this to life (I’m paraphrasing – you can read the actual study here, page 89.)
Google the word “dogs.” Just under the search bar, Google will brag it just found 783,000,000 results in 0.37 seconds. This is a case study. It’s a result – a reason you should use them.
Now think about that result for a second, the immensity of that accomplishment. The entirety of human knowledge about dogs at your fingertips in milliseconds. No one cares. It’s not impressive. We don’t even think about it.
BUT – talk about the algorithm. Tell me about the scientific breakthroughs that deliver that result. The satellites. The personalities. The struggles of the scientists. I’m fascinated. The existence of the Discovery Channel proves this is true. The how – the story behind the outcome – is what people care about.
Say: “Tell me about what was going on in your business in XYZ year… set the scene for me.”
Ask: “Can you tell me about how that was affecting your business? Can you give me a specific example?”
Probe. Dig. You’re Charlie Rose. You’re Oprah. You want your customer to start crying thinking about all the struggles they overcame and how good things are today. Be authentic. Don’t sanitize it.
Get the emotional connection – the how – the story. If you’re actually interested while the interview is happening – everyone else will care about the story you have to tell.
P.S. Want more of Alex’s tips? Take his class Power Your Podcast with Storytelling. Great insights whether your blogging, podcasting, or just trying to tell better stories.
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