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Are you smarter than the average content marketer?

Our clients often ask us for best practices in the areas of customer references and content marketing. Here is a sampling of the choices our clients face. 

What’s the best way to get case study input from busy customers? 

  1. Request a 10-minute interview when they visit your trade show booth. 
  2. Email them a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire. 
  3. Ask your sales rep to complete the questionnaire with the customer.
  4. Request a 60-minute telephone interview.

Despite the comparatively large time commitment, D is the best choice. Here’s why. 

At a busy trade show, you’re probably not going to want to keep your customer for more than 10 minutes. But that’s not nearly enough time to gather the information required for a compelling case study. Instead, try setting up a video booth to capture short testimonials. 

If you’re hoping for written feedback at the customer’s convenience, don’t hold your breath. They may never find a convenient time to get their thoughts down in writing for your case study. In our experience, most interviewees would rather answer questions orally. 

How about tapping into the enthusiastic rep, then? It seems logical: Sales reps have good relationships with the customer, and they can ease the customer’s burden by filling in the questionnaire for them and then getting a quick nod of approval. But, in reality, most sales reps we know don’t want this burden any more than their customers do. 

So, you need sufficient input from the customer, and the customer and rep would rather not write anything. That leads us to a scheduled interview. An hour-long interview, though seems like a huge imposition on the customer’s time. And it is. But in our decades of interviewing a variety of B2B customers around the world, 60 minutes is the right amount of time to gather enough information for a compelling case study, as well as additional content assets, such as sales win summaries, testimonial quote sheets, presentations, etc. The hour can pass quite pleasantly, too. After all, experienced interviewers don’t read questions from scripts; they engage customers in conversations, encouraging them to tell their stories. 

You can shorten the interview time by gathering as much solution information as you can from the rep. That way, the discussion with the customer can focus on their decision-making process, their quality of experience, and the benefits they obtained. 

True or false? The more products you can mention in a customer success story, the more impactful it will be. 

 False. If you have multiple product groups, the marketing and sales teams in each group will be clamoring for mentions in every possible success story—even if their product is not the main focus of the story. While trying to satisfy all of your internal stakeholders—and save money—don’t lose sight of the main target for the stories themselves: your valuable prospects. A clear, compelling story that increases sales for one product group is worth more than an all-inclusive piece that gets tossed. 

 What is the top challenge that B2B content creators face? 

  1. Producing enough content
  2. Lack of clarity
  3. Lack of time

 All three issues can give content creators a headache. But according the Content Marketing Institute, lack of clarity, i.e., changing priorities and unclear briefs, is the worst. We agree. We’ll give everything we’ve got to meet a client’s needs for high volumes and short deadlines. But when the needs keep shifting and stakeholders are not aligned, it derails everyone’s efforts. The resulting content product pleases no one, and it’s rarely clear who is to blame. 

One of the most important tasks of the in-house content manager is to manage stakeholder input. That requires setting expectations at the outset and documenting roles and responsibilities. From our agency vantage point, we admire and respect this formidable challenge. And we stand ready to take on any project management burdens that our clients feel ready to offload. 

What’s your top challenge? We’d love to hear your tips for keeping the content creation engine humming.  

Author

Tami Demayo

Published

June 15, 2021
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