The Power of Client Testimonials in Attracting New Business
Many firms ask existing, very satisfied, loyal Clients if they would be prepared give a quote, a testimonial and/or agree to be involved in a video case study interview/article for publication. These can then be used, with permission, in bids, case studies featured in your website, articles in magazines and internally for developing your people's awareness in seeking such materials. These can then be used selectively to attract new Clients.
Producing Client Case Studies
It is important to decide which Clients are likely to provide the most interesting and relevant case material. In planning to create a bank of case material, ideally its selection criteria should align with the firm's marketing strategy - which sectors, geographical regions and transactions would be appropriate. It is important to secure stakeholder support at board level to ensure that the effort in creating and publishing the material is going to pay off. The most effective case studies are often in story format, making interesting reading and just touching on your firm's competences and how these helped meet the Client's needs. The benefits to Clients can range from external publicity about their company/organisation to appearing at a conference or seminar, thus raising their profile. If your firm has sufficient resources, it is possible to produce case studies internally; however, there are many specialist agencies that can produce case studies covering one or more countries.
HOW TO PRODUCE A SERIES OF CLIENT CASE STUDIES: A SUGGESTED APPROACH
Step I: Set Objectives for the Project
• Decide how many case studies are required in first year, for example, one per month.
• Decide how case studies are likely to be used and by whom.
• Decide which sectors/geographical regions will be targeted during pilot stage and roll out.
• Agree a budget for the first full year of activity (start-up and maintenance costs).
• Agree who will sponsor (board level partner) and lead (senior manager) the project team.
• Decide who will conduct and write up Client interviews (internal and/ or agency).
• Establish a small project team (ideally cross-functional).
• Agree how case studies will be stored and accessed.
• Choose pilot sector(s) to kick off the programme.
Step 2: Decide the Client Selection Criteria For example, you could choose Clients that:
• are well known in their marketplace;
• are likely to provide an interesting and compelling story;
• are leaders in their industry/sector;
• have a strong brand name;
• are growing faster than the average in their field;
• have an international presence;
• have an interesting and charismatic leader;
• have a high Net Promoter Score in the latest Client satisfaction survey;
• use a number of different services provided by your firm.
Step 3: Seek Out Suitable Clients
• Communicate programme details, including anticipated benefits to the firm and participating Clients to all partners and managers.
• Ask your partners and managers to submit names of Clients that fit most of the selection criteria.
Step 4: Select External Agency (or Use Internal Resources if Available)
• Prepare the brief and ask several specialist agencies to pitch.
• Conduct interviews and short-list candidates.
• Select the agency with best fit to firm's goals.
• Ask the agency to present its process to the project team.
• The agency prepares a set of interview questions for approval.
• Agree possible publication media (website/blogs/printed material, videos).
Step 5 - Create a Client Case Study Template to Send to the Relationship Partner/Manager for Discussion
Usually prepared with or by the agency, this sets out:
• Client contact details;
• which selection criteria are met;
• challenges faced by the Client;
• services provided by the firm;
• benefits cited by Client (e.g. from the Client satisfaction report);
• whether corporate clearance is needed at the Client (which is often the situation with larger companies).
Step 6: Seek Client Agreement to Participate
• Ask the relationship partner/manager if they wish to seek Client agreement or whether the agency can do this.
• Contact the Client.
• If the Client agrees, agency sets dates to discuss the Client with the firm's service team, followed by the Client interview. The agency may interview several people at the Client.
Step 7: Interviews
• The agency interview service team to establish background on the Client.
• The agency contacts the Client to schedule interview(s) (filming may be requested if appropriate).
• The agency conducts and writes up the interview.
• The agency sends the interview copy to the relationship partner/manager for review and comment.
Step 8: Client Feedback
• The agency sends notes/video (if appropriate) to the Client for review and approval.
• The agency requests photographs from the Client for publication alongside the case material.
• Client approval.
Step 9: Case Study Produced
• The agency prepares case study in agreed format.
• The case study is sent to the firm for approval.
• The case study is sent to the Client, explaining likely usage, for approval.
• The case study is approved by the Client and published.
Step 10: Monitoring and Communication of Case Study Usage and Outcomes
• If possible, try to evaluate the additional revenue accruing from the use of case studies in pitch and business development activities.
• Communicate successes internally.
Step 11 : Thank the Participating Clients and the internal team
Of course, case studies do have a finite life, and this is usually one or two years, so it is important to refresh the bank of material regularly. Many firms have a central reservoir of case material, which is accessible to all who are involved in bid preparation. Any usage of material is noted to avoid over-use. Some firms create space in their website to showcase Client comments, and many use such material to support bids for new work.