Case studies and application stories tell prospects how your product will benefit them.
By Donna St. Jean Conti, APR,
President, St. Conti Communications
Have you ever found yourself considering a purchase and wishing you could talk to a peer or read an article about someone else using the product? Well, you’re not the only one. Most people search for first-hand advice when considering a significant purchase. This is why a smart technology company provides that advice in the form of an application story, also known as a case study.
“We’ve used application stories about our customers with great success for many years,” says Mike Lazear, president of Huntington Beach-based Archway Systems, developer of VersaCAD software. “Sometimes the application is the story itself… Other times, the application story leads to something else. We landed a great VersaCAD product review in an issue of Machine Design by first telling the editor how one of our clients, Alan Mefford, used VersaCAD to design a macadamia nut processing plant.”
An application story tells the reader how your product or service is used to solve a problem. They go beyond mere testimonial statements by outlining challenges that necessitated adoption of the solution and by explaining how your product solved them. They also explain what it took to implement your solution. Most importantly, they highlight your customer’s return on investment, which is key to showing the value of your product.
For St. Conti Communications’ customer, Concepts NREC, the value of its Agile Engineering Design System software was measured in terms of energy savings when Ebara International Corporation used it to design a first-of-its-kind liquid natural gas (LNG) cryogenic power recovery turbine. An edited version of the case study ran in the January 2011 issue of Hydrocarbon Processing.
You will want to get your customer’s authorization to do a case study prior to developing it. Once you have the authorization, plan to spend ten to 15 hours developing your case study to account for time researching the material, obtaining quotes from your customer, preparing high-resolution images and obtaining the necessary approvals to publish the information. If you find this is too time consuming or otherwise daunting to do on your own, contact a public relations professional who has experience developing and placing case studies on behalf of technology companies.
SIDE BAR MATERIAL:
Get your company’s story in the news
• Pitch several non-competing publishing categories for example, local news outlets, vertical trade media, national business media. Minor edits to the story will make it relevant for each audience.
• Provide graphics to accompany the story: photography, illustrations, charts, etc.
• Consult the selected publication’s editorial calendar in timing your pitch.
• Follow up on your pitch with e-mails or calls to confirm interest.
• Offer it as an “exclusive” to just one publication in each non-competitive category (or make it clear you cannot promise exclusivity).
• Use reprints of the story as sales handouts, and post a link to the story on your website.
Five tips for building an application story
1. Define the problem the customer needed to solve.
2. Describe what solutions were tried and why they failed.
3. List what product features and benefits were used.
4. Tell how the customer found your product and what it took to implement your solution.
5. Provide your customer’s quantifiable return on investment. Be specific with time and materials saved, out-of-pocket cost savings, etc.
About the Author
Donna St. Jean Conti, APR, is a public relations veteran with 20 years of experience promoting high technology clients. She has extensive experience representing software companies. Contact Donna at Email Contact, 949-290-0622 or via St. Conti Communications to launch a public relations program that includes your case studies. St. Conti Communications markets your company by telling the story.
Donna St. Jean Conti, APR
St. Conti Communications