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Alastair McDermott, Kate the Case Study Copywriter
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 00:00
That’s a critical point is that when you write a case story, you want your client to be the hero of the story. They are the ones that are the main character.
Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialised consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.
Alastair McDermott 00:25
Hey, folks, before we get into today’s episode, I just want to briefly mention that I’m going to be doing a couple of webinars in December and January. And they’re going to be focused on the journey to authority and helping you niche down. So if those are things that you’re interested in, sign up for the email list, if you’re not signed up already, you can get that at therecognizedauthority.com. So today, my guest is Kate, The Case Study Copywriter. And Kate is a copywriter who partners with b2b companies. She turns clients success into irresistible stories that sell I love that phrase. She has 17 years as a marketer, copywriter and designer, and she’s created her case study method that has one end goal in mind for you, which is more sales. So Kate, thank you so much for being here. I want to just get straight into it and talk about the value of case studies to b2b companies. Can you talk a little bit about why they’re really important?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 01:22
Yeah, absolutely. Some of the reasons are, that really, they are great for social proof. They help to build trust in your company’s ability to follow through with promises, and solving problems they’re an attention getting. So for example, you may have some great metrics or statistics that highlight the benefit that you provided to a client. They also show the value that you provide, what business outcomes that someone has experienced with working with you. They help to differentiate you from other companies, they reduce risk by hearing stories about people like you that face a similar problem, and helps you understand that this company can help you and it reduces the risk of the unknown, of knowing if this company can actually help you solve a similar problem. Some other reasons are overcoming objections in the sales process. And so a case study can be used at multiple points in the marketing and sales funnel, it just depends on how a company is set up and what how you want to use those case studies. So sales enablement, they also support other marketing collateral and campaigns. So you can use the case study in many different ways, not only as the the case study itself, but you can actually use pull out quotes and testimonials that are highlighted in the case study in other areas of your sales and marketing. So those are just a couple of the reasons why case studies are so useful.
Alastair McDermott 02:53
Really cool. And what I love about that is so many different ways to use them. And now I’ve talked before on this podcast and and elsewhere, I’ve blogged about, I talked about a lot, that selling consulting is more difficult selling b2b services is more difficult. And one of the reasons for that is because we’re selling invisible services. So we’re not selling something that’s tangible. And so that makes it more difficult for people to understand the value. And and so you were talking about this social proof and creating trust and demonstrating value. So absolutely, I can see that, that’s fantastic. So I just wanted to get into, like, what makes for a good case study. So like, what are the elements that you need to have? What do you need to watch out for? What do you need to do? What did you avoid doing? You talk a little bit about what makes that up?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 03:42
Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, it really starts at the, you know, making sure that the project that you’re looking at highlighting, or the success story is one, that’s going to make a good story. So just looking, you know, before you even start to write a case study, you want to make sure that it has the elements of a good story, which I can go into in a minute. So really, it’s choosing the right candidate. So you have a good story. And that has to match up with it with a good candidate. Are they going to want to be interviewed? Will they want to share that story? Will they want that story to be marketed and published? You have to plan the right questions. And and I think, from my perspective, that’s probably one of the most important elements is, is the strategy to creating the questions that are actually going to draw forth the the golden information that’s going to be so valuable.
Alastair McDermott 04:36
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 04:37
Targeting points that are important in marketing and sales. So you have to match your objectives with the story. So for example, if you’re writing a story, you want to know what is what are your objectives for that case study, how are you going to use it? Who is it going to be targeted to? Because you want to use a case study to theoretically attract more clients like that project that you just completed, it was a great success, hey, let’s do this again, let’s write a case study about it so that we can have that social proof for the next company that we can help. And a story is just like its facts. It’s this is what happened, and this is how it happened. And this is why it was successful.
Alastair McDermott 05:20
Right? Okay, there’s, there’s so much I want to dig into there. Okay, let me let me ask you this first. So talking about choosing the right candidate, how do you know if, if a client will make for a good candidate? And how do you know? Or how do you kind of talk about the value? Because you’re taking their valuable time? How do you how do you talk about the value that they might get from doing this? So what makes for a good candidate?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 05:47
A good candidate is someone that you have a really great working relationship with.
Alastair McDermott 05:52
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 05:53
Where the project or whatever, you know, consulting project, whatever it was, that it was really so beneficial to that customer, they would love to talk about it.
Alastair McDermott 06:06
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 06:06
You know, and so I think every person is going to know,
Alastair McDermott 06:10
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 06:10
Whether they’ve got a good candidate. I mean, you just know.
Alastair McDermott 06:14
You’re looking for those raving fans.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 06:15
Absolutely. It’s just the word the doozy ism is off the charts. Yes.
Alastair McDermott 06:20
Cool. Okay, so So that’s the first thing, then that I would look for is I would say, Okay, who are my most enthusiastic clients that I can talk to and say, “Hey, would you be willing to do this?” not those who, who, you know, don’t want to put their story out there. They don’t want to talk about the problems that they encountered previously, that they don’t want to be embarrassed. You want to find the people who want to rave about you who want to in a positive way.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 06:42
Alastair McDermott 06:43
Want to, yeah, yeah. Cool. Okay. So then the other thing we’re talking about is, you know, talking about the story, and the elements of a good story. Can you talk about what the elements of a good story are, in this context? And in relation to case studies?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 06:59
Yeah, absolutely. Case studies typically follow a certain format. And just to put it simply, you want to talk about the challenge that your client was facing before they even reached out to you. And then why they reached out to you why they chose you, what solution that you provided for them, and then what the results were for that. And so there’s a there’s a lot in that. But overall, that’s the general format that a case study will follow.
Alastair McDermott 07:31
Right? So that challenge, I mean, that’s the problem that you solve for your clients. You know, I always go back to the to the positioning statement, we help these people solve this problem. So you’re looking for people who have the challenge that you want to highlight, in your case study, and who are raving fans. And then, then you start to take them through what was the challenge that you were facing, and why they chose you? That’s the next one, right? So let’s talk about that a little bit. Is it easy to get that information from people by the way they chose you? Or is that is that difficult to kind of tease out?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 08:08
No, it’s actually been, it’s usually quite easy to get that information. And a few more that I’m going to just jump back just for a moment. Because we were talking about the raving fans, I just want to put a little a caveat in there. Sometimes, a client is a raving fan, but they may not want to be named in a case study.
Alastair McDermott 08:28
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 08:29
For whatever reason, it could be, you know, proprietary solutions, or something like that. So you can still have a raving fan that is an anonymous or unnamed case study.
Alastair McDermott 08:39
Right, okay, yeah.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 08:39
I just want to throw that back there.
Alastair McDermott 08:41
Okay, cool. And is there much difference between the value of a case study where you have a named client and logo versus an anonymous one? Is it is it seen as valuable? Like just as much of an impact difference?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 08:55
I would say both can actually be used as the same way, I would say that a named case study is much more impactful. But if you can’t get one, it doesn’t mean that unnamed, cannot be used and also be very useful.
Alastair McDermott 09:10
Yeah, yeah. Cool. Okay. We talked about what the challenges are. So going back to the building blocks here, we talk about what the challenge is, why they chose you as the as the provider as the solution provider. And then you start to talk about the solution itself, right? Or is there another step there? Yeah.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 09:27
Yeah, yeah. And the solution can involve many different parts because, you know, maybe there were different phases to a project. Or maybe you you got to a roadblock on the project, and you kind of got stuck and then you realise, okay, let’s get together, put our heads together and solve it. And so sometimes that that can be a really powerful element of a case study because you don’t want a case study to to just be like, you know, rainbows and unicorns, you want to show a realistic solution. So it’s okay sometimes to say “hey, look, you know, while we were working on this, we we kind of came to a roadblock. But we, you know, had weekly meetings and we we got together. And this is how we overcame that problem, even in the the rollout of a project”.
Alastair McDermott 10:14
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 10:14
So that that can be and they don’t all have that, but sometimes that can be useful to have in here, too.
Alastair McDermott 10:19
Yeah. So it doesn’t have to all go swimmingly. You can talk about the fact that you encountered problems, and you solve them along the way. And in fact, I mean, I see people talk about things like, in the marketing world, there’s a term called damaging admissions, which is where you admit to something damaging, which is usually something quite minor.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 10:36
Alastair McDermott 10:36
But it creates trust now, I think that there’s the potential to misuse that.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 10:40
Alastair McDermott 10:41
But it can be a great way of being more authentic when you talk about those issues. So I think that’s what you’re talking about there as well. Okay. And so we talked about the solution, and kind of how, like, how far do you go into that solution? What you did, why you did it, how you did it? How much how deep do you go?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 10:58
Well, typically, when, when I interview, a client or my client’s client, I’ll go into a lot of depth. And what I try to do is, is I tried to find the top three challenges that they were experiencing. And because usually you can even if it’s one, you can break it down into a couple elements. And then once I understand what their challenges were, we’ll talk about the solution or solutions, and then the results. And I looked at to connect those results to those challenges. So for example, alright, in the beginning, when you first started working with your consultant, you’re experiencing these challenges, and then we’ll look at at how they were solved. And then we’ll look at what the actual results are, and tie those back to the challenges because that’s really where you start to see either qualitative or quantitative results. And that’s really the what you want to get to is how you solve those problems.
Alastair McDermott 11:55
Right. Okay. And you try and include metrics in there when you can?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 11:58
Yeah, super powerful. If you can, it’s not always possible.
Alastair McDermott 12:03
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 12:03
But yeah, if you can definitely.
Alastair McDermott 12:06
Yeah, cool. Yeah, I think I’ve seen that, you know, even with something as simple as testimonials, if you can get like a short testimonial from people, if you can get them to actually include metrics that can make a big difference. So it would make sense that it would be important here as well. Okay, so we have the building blocks, we’ve got the challenges, we’ve got the why they chose you. We’ve got the going into the solution. And then we’ve got the results and being as going into detail as much as we can with the qualitative and quantitative side of that. Is there anything I’m missing there?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 12:37
Just maybe a little bit when you’re looking at, you know, sometimes when you say, challenge solution results, it sounds very mathematical, I guess it is, in a way. There’s all sorts of nuances in in telling a great story. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with the hero’s journey, but you know, it relates to, and this that’s a critical point is that when you write a case story, you want your client to be the hero of the story. They are the ones that are the main character versus you in the story.
Alastair McDermott 13:09
Right. The the client who was featured in the case study,
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 13:12
Exactly the candidate, the candidate. That’s right.
Alastair McDermott 13:16
And the solution provider is the guide.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 13:20
Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Yeah. So you know, when you’re looking at the hero’s journey, you’re looking at it as the the feature candidate experienced a crisis. They embark on an adventure, to find a solution to that crisis, they find an ally, which is you, and then they went to victory together, and then they returned transformed. So that’s, that’s another maybe more poetic way of saying solution challenge result.
Alastair McDermott 13:46
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 13:47
You know, but that that’s where the real feeling comes in a story that you can connect to and relate to.
Alastair McDermott 13:53
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I’ll put some links in the show notes. And storytelling is something that I’ve had some people talking on the podcast already, I’ll link those episodes as well. And the the hero’s journey, and, you know, the three act structure of I’ve done a course about storytelling. I did a course about YouTube videos. But over a third of the course, was specifically around story structure, which is really interesting. It’s amazing to see how important that is, in what you’re talking about here, in videos on YouTube, and just in general, I think that’s a really useful, useful skill to have and useful knowledge to have. So it’s good to see that. Thanks for going into detail on that. Also, I’ll definitely link to a couple of templates for the hero’s journey so people can see, you know what that looks like? Okay, so let me ask you now, what does this all actually look like as, like, what does the end result look like? What we’re talking about the framework here, you know, is this a 20,000 word document that we finished with? Is it a 200 word summary? What does it actually look like in the end?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 15:01
Yeah, great question. There’s actually a few different formats that a case study can take. Traditionally, and probably most commonly, a case study is typically around 1200 words a two sided PDF, that’s standard. Now it can be longer, it can be shorter. But that that’s what you most often see.
Alastair McDermott 15:24
Okay. And I can imagine you could take because you’ve got this structure, I can imagine, you could turn that into a pretty good video as well, because you’ve already got that story structure there that you could you could do a lot of different things of that. Okay, let’s go back then, to the actual interview that you’re doing, and the interview questions that you asked. Can you tell us a bit about the questions that you actually asked the the the case of the candidate when you’re going through this process?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 15:50
Yeah, definitely. I typically have around 40 questions prepared. And now, I may not ask all of those questions during the interview, because a lot of the interviewer can change based on their answers to your question, so that you may be going, you know, go down another trail because of an answer that they provided. But the types of questions that you want to ask initially, are, you know, just a little bit of background about the company and about the person that you’re speaking with? Like, how long have they been in that position? What what do they do there? What was their role in the project, and when I meet, when I write them, I actually meet with my client first. And I asked them to tell me about this project, give me all the background, so that I understand. And then from there, I will customise my inner question my interview questions, but some, sometimes I’ll ask them both the same question, my client and the feature candidate. And that that helps me just get a little bit, two perspectives on on that situation, right. But some other types of questions might be like, how did you handle this process before you started working with this client? Because they were probably doing something before.
Alastair McDermott 17:03
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 17:03
What was it and why wasn’t it working? And what was the catalyst? So it was the straw that broke the camel’s back that you realise that you just can’t do this anymore. By yourself that you have to get some outside help? So that’s always a really great question. Because it really that’s where like, the most tension happens is like, Okay, we just couldn’t handle this anymore. We have to, we knew we needed to help at this point. And then we, you know, maybe they, they called a bunch of companies, or they asked, you know, colleagues, or somehow they found you. And, you know, and then okay, well, and then why did you pick this company to work for? So that that’s some other questions might be, like, at what point did you realise results? Like, for example, when did you when did you realise a time saving? Or a return on investment on this? Or that? That’s a good question. Yeah, so those are some things that, that you can ask in an interview.
Alastair McDermott 17:58
Yeah. It’s, it’s interesting, as you say that, I can see some parallels to the value conversation before you start working with a client, you’re trying to figure out some of those things. Like what kind of value they’re going to get from, and it’s quite interesting, the parallel there.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 18:13
Alastair McDermott 18:14
Okay. So I’m gonna, I’m intending to do my own case study, to write my own case study. So I know I found a raving clients, I have a structure, I know, I’m going to be looking for the challenges, the solution, the results, and I’m going to try and put that into a hero’s journey type of format. When I’m writing this, I know approximately how long I wanted to be. Is there anything else that that I need to bear in mind? If I’m, if I’m going to sit down and talk to one of my clients myself and ask them if they’ll, if they’ll do this, if they’ll go through this process?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 18:46
I mean, before asking them?
Alastair McDermott 18:49
Yeah. Is there anything else that I’ve left out of this process? Or is that is that a good overview of the process?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 18:54
That’s a good overview.
Alastair McDermott 18:55
Cool. Okay. So what mistakes do people make them when they’re when they’re trying to do this themselves?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 19:01
Alright, so some common mistakes are skipping the client interview.
Alastair McDermott 19:06
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 19:08
That’s probably one of the biggest mistakes, is saying is saying, “Well, I know the story, I can write it myself”. And the reason why that’s a mistake, is because you don’t get to hear the voice of your own client and use that in the case study. And you’d be surprised by how amazing and wonderful and just the little you know gold gold nuggets that you can get out of an interview that you could never get just by writing the story yourself. So I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that I suggest is definitely do the interview. And even though it might seem or feel awkward asking, Are you you just think, oh, they’ll never do that. I think most times people are willing to do an interview.
Alastair McDermott 19:58
Yeah, yeah. Okay, are there any other mistakes that we should watch out for?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 20:04
Yeah, yeah, definitely, I would say poorly formed interview questions, you know, you have to ask questions the right way. Like, you don’t want to lead the witness, in a sense. So you open ended questions are really good. You know, you don’t want to just have a yes or no question. You want that question to lead to another another question? Or, you know, so that the questions, you know, should be gently designed to make someone feel comfortable and be willing to speak more, prepare for interviews, like don’t just wing them, you know, really think about it think about the order that they go in. The questions should relate to that to the order of the format of the case study. I would say another big mistake that we talked about was would be not making the client, the hero of the story.
Alastair McDermott 20:50
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 20:51
Some case studies just talk about, hey, we were great. You know, we we did wonderful on this project. But you know, so I would say that that is something that I would suggest that should be written well, structure matters, you know, make sure that it’s not too pedantic and actually tells a story. That’s, that’s interesting. You know, a lot of people think, Oh, nobody reads anymore. But actually b2b Case studies are one of the I think the top three marketing materials that are read or actually read.
Alastair McDermott 21:21
Yeah, I saw some some stats, because I was just doing some research for this. I saw some stats on I couldn’t find the source. But I saw somewhere that it was actually the number one most read type of content in b2b sales.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 21:32
Alastair McDermott 21:33
So that’s really interesting.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 21:35
I think another mistake is asking for the case study before results are proven. You know, so make sure that your client has experienced results so that you’ve really got something great to write about.
Alastair McDermott 21:47
Too early. Yeah.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 21:48
Yep. So those are the top ones.
Alastair McDermott 21:52
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Let’s just talk about the because we have the building blocks, the kind of the structure like do people actually read the case studies? Because I know a lot of people skim read online. So what what do you do to cater for that? Is there any way to draw people in? I know we’re using the story structure? Is there anything else that you can do to kind of make it more appealing?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 22:14
Yes, abosultely. Typically, what case studies will have is you’ll have the story, but then you’ll also have heads and sub heads. And those sub heads are designed to draw attention. The case studies typically will have a little kind of a pullout section that summarises the the challenges, solution and results. So if you’re just a skimmer, you should be able to look at a case study and quickly ascertain what that story was about, and what the benefits were. So it or if you’re a reader, you can you can read, read the story so that the design is important, but also the writing and to make sure that you actually pull out and summarise those elements in your story.
Alastair McDermott 22:56
Yeah. Cool. And then how do people actually use them afterwards? So like, what have you seen people doing with them?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 23:03
Yeah, I have, you know, some, some of my clients are just really they are just all over the case studies. As soon as a project is done, they asked for a case study, but part of their success is they actually, at the beginning of a project, they plant the seeds, like saying, “hey, at the end of our project, we’re going to be approaching you about writing a case study”. And that way, the, it’s not a whole new thought. And so that that helps and success.
Alastair McDermott 23:30
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 23:30
And so like, for example, one of my clients, they, they’ll have a case study, that’s a PDF format, but then they’ll also take that copy and put that on their website. So it’s available on their website. And as a downloadable PDF, they will also take sometimes I’ll help them with a slide decks for sales where we actually take the case study, and we put some of that content in a slide deck so that the sales team can use that in sales calls. You know, sometimes they’ll they’ll take that same case study and actually write maybe a hero story, and they’ll have a section for heroes in a certain industry, let’s say it’s a safety hero or something like that. Those are ways that you could do it, or the things that you can do relative to the use of the actual case study itself.
Alastair McDermott 24:21
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 24:21
Is use it in email marketing, social media, blogging.
Alastair McDermott 24:25
Yeah. So it really can be repurposed a whole bunch of different ways. Yeah.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 24:30
Absolutely. Because that’s probably one of the most amazing things about case studies is the ability to repurpose them.
Alastair McDermott 24:37
Yeah. And, you know, when we struggle for content ideas, and sometimes, you know, trying to figure out what we’re going to talk about the case studies themselves, potentially being repurposed. And also the actual interviews that you did, I’d say as a source material for ideas. You know, just taking some of the topics were addressed there and turning those into, you know, blog posts and ideas for podcast episodes or videos, I’d say that could be really interesting as well, because you know, these are relevant for an actual client in your industry, you know, these are things they care about. So I say that would be be really useful as well.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 25:17
It’s interesting that you say that, because that’s actually really a really great point. Because when you have an interview, and I record my interviews, you can’t write the whole interview, because there’s so much more in in that interview that you could actually fit in a case study. But the things that you don’t use, just as your viewpoint is fabulous, because it’s it’s true. There is so much great content that is still in that interview that can be utilised.
Alastair McDermott 25:46
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 25:47
Alastair McDermott 25:48
Yeah, ’cause, um, I mean, I think maybe this is something that could just be useful for you personally. But if you were to take you know, your interviews and look at the, the topics or problems, you could probably give ah, the social media team at your clients, you can probably give them 20, or 30 different blog posts or video ideas just from that. And so, so people listening to this can do the same. Like, I always find that when I’m talking to people, that I’m talking to them about their business, like, I get so many different ideas, just from talking about the problems that they’ve encountered, and how they’ve overcome those. It gives you loads of ideas for content. Okay, that’s really cool. Okay, so let’s see, we have structure, we have an idea of how long it should be the questions we should be asking. And I really love the idea of talking to them, giving them a heads up beforehand, as well. Because I think this is something I’ve seen, I’ve actually done before where I’ve put it in that the the testimonial is part of the price of the so you’re getting this at a discount, but part of the price is that you do a video testimony at the end. Or you can do it without the testimonial. And without the discount. People usually go for the for the testimonial. So yeah, but so having that said up front, you know, hey, we want to turn this into a case study. I think that’s really cool. Okay, is there anything else I should ask you or you want it you want to tell us about case studies that is really important to know.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 27:11
Yeah, I think that from what I’ve seen, what really makes success happen with a company that uses case studies, is by having a strategy, like actually standing back and looking at your objectives, your sales, your marketing, the types of clients that you want to attract more of an strategizing on what types of case studies that you need to accomplish that objective. So instead of just just finishing a project, and you know, sometimes what happens is you’re so busy, you’ve got a project, you complete it, and then you’re ready to go on to the next one. And you’re like, “oh, yeah, we need a case study on this last one”. But if you if you plan ahead, I found that clients that that have planned ahead, and I help them with that as well is okay, let’s look at your strategy. Let’s let’s look at what type of library that you want. And if you if you create a library, you can actually say, “Okay, well, this, this case study is going to be great for this purpose”. Or if your sales team is approaching, you know, this type of client, “well, okay, let’s go to a librarian”. And, you know, here’s this case study in this case study that they can use. So I think just having that that larger picture, where you look at your organisation, look at your company, whether it’s, you’re an individual or a bunch of people and saying, okay, here, here’s what I need to help me.
Alastair McDermott 28:37
Yeah, I think this goes back to, even to Stephen Covey, and “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. And when he talks about the start with the end in mind, it seems to me that that’s what you’re doing here. You’re saying, okay, when we approach this project, were we on the client are going to bear in mind that we’re going to be doing a case study at the end of it. And I think that that just changed your approach a little bit. I think I saw you say somewhere, treat every client like they’re your best client or your most important that’s strikes me as kind of like that treat everybody like you’re your best customer is that that’s what you said. Is there anything else on case studies because I want to make sure that we covered the important points for for people who want to actually start out with case studies.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 29:21
Yeah, and there’s probably a couple of things that I’d like to share just relative to the case study process. One of those is just kind of looking at the benefits of hiring a third party to interview your customers, you can interview your own customers. Absolutely. And you can get a great story.
Alastair McDermott 29:40
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 29:40
One of the benefits of working with someone like me or another case study writer is and this is what I found is that sometimes your clients feel awkward opening up to you about you know, maybe you know, a point of tension within you know, the project or you know, they they feel more likely to open up if they see, okay, this is a professional interview that is going to be scheduled, I’m going to have my writer contact you. And it tends to be less awkward, because they don’t feel like there’s an agenda. They feel like they can just freely explain how that how the process went. And so that’s just one of the benefits to that.
Alastair McDermott 30:23
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 30:23
Another thing point that I was wanted to share with everybody was just some of the steps to follow when you are writing a case study. And we look at the format of a case study. But when you step back a little bit, you know, the first thing we looked at, we talked about strategy or planning, finding the candidate, another element is getting permission, you know, you need to ask for permission to do that. Let them know how we’ll use, I think a question that you had asked me earlier than I never got to was what was the value for for the feature candidate.
Alastair McDermott 30:54
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 30:55
And often that can be a co marketing opportunity.
Alastair McDermott 30:58
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 30:59
Whereby you sharing that case study, you are getting the word about them out, as well to to your audience into a larger audience. And then your client can also share that. So there’s, you know, some great opportunities there. Other steps relative to the case study process is research, the writing, and then leveraging it in your sales and marketing efforts. So that’s kind of like the the steps and the chronology of what happens.
Alastair McDermott 31:27
Right. There’s one other question I want to ask you about this. And that’s when you’re working with a customer with a client with a lot of different points of contact, who’s the best person to actually interview about this? Is it the project manager? You know, how do you know who the best person is?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 31:46
That’s a good question. Sometimes there’s multiple people, for example, you might have the CEO of the company, you know, they have the larger perspective, maybe they were the one that found you. But then you ended up working with the project manager. In that example, maybe you would speak to both, or maybe the project manager understands the view of the CEO, and can do the interview. So so it’s really a case by case basis, but you want to make sure that the person that you’re speaking with, is not so detailed, that they don’t understand the challenges of why you were you were brought in in the first place.
Alastair McDermott 32:25
Yeah, going back to that value, what the total value of this is. Yeah. I think Alan Weiss talks, he uses the term the economic buyer, which I think he means that you know, that the buyer, who is actually a value to rather than the person who’s actually, you know, who’s dealing with you are going through the going through the transaction with you.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 32:47
Alastair McDermott 32:48
Okay, so I want to switch gears and just ask you about your own business. Can you tell me like how long have you been an you’re an independent consultant, right?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 32:55
Alastair McDermott 32:56
How long have you been doing this for yourself? And how did you get into case study? Can you give us a bit of background?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 33:01
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I started my career as a corporate software trainer. And I did that for several years for Adobe, I was the Adobe Certified Trainer, also worked as an IBM corporate software trainer. And from there, I started a marketing agency, which was a full service agency, did everything and manage that for about 15 years. And I got to a point where, where I realised that probably 95% of my clients had one thing in common, and that was that they, they were not taking advantage of their most most valuable asset, which was their customers, their success stories, the case studies. And so I decided to switch gears and started a new company about seven years ago, and this was my independent company, and decided to just focus on case studies. And there’s some some reasons why I love case studies. One is it is storytelling. I get to talk to happy people all the time, because I’m telling great stories. So everybody’s everybody’s happy. Yeah, so it’s really
Alastair McDermott 34:11
That’s a really great side effect. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 34:13
It really is. I love the interviewing part, because it is it’s so much fun learning about, you know, someone’s company and their role in that company and their, their challenges and, you know, just how exciting they are to solve that challenge. Because not only is that you know, the company and you the client, you’re affecting people’s careers, you know, if they were able to bring you into a company and change, you know, an outcome. That’s huge, you know, so so I’ve been writing you know, case studies for for a while now and really, really enjoy it. I love that, that it’s a repeatable process in certain organisation to it.
Alastair McDermott 34:58
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 34:59
A lot of fun.
Alastair McDermott 35:00
Really cool. What, when you, so did you found that marketing agency yourself? The one that you had before the case study business?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 35:08
Oh, the one that. Yeah, it was actually a family business.
Alastair McDermott 35:12
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 35:13
Alastair McDermott 35:13
I was wondering about that. And when you decided to do your own thing and niche down even further, can you talk about that? Because that feels like it might have felt like a risky step to you at the time. Did you feel that fear of niching down into case studies?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 35:28
Actually, I didn’t. And that, and that was because I knew that that was an effective marketing strategy.
Alastair McDermott 35:35
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 35:35
And I didn’t come up with that, obviously. But there are several people that that I followed, that I felt were experts in that and understood positioning, and the importance of pigeonholing yourself and niching down. And so, you know, my first goal was, okay, well, you know, what skills do I have, software background, you know, marketing background writing background. So I pulled all those together and said, Okay, case studies are a really good fit with my background and skills. So that’s why I chose those, I could probably chose anything, you know, white papers, or blog posts, or whatever. But I felt.
Alastair McDermott 36:11
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 36:11
Case studies really kind of fit my abilities and what I could bring to the table for for clients.
Alastair McDermott 36:17
Cool. That was a question I’d like to ask business owners and entrepreneurs, do you have a business failure that you can talk about? Something that went wrong, that you that you recovered for from that you learned from? There’s nothing that you experienced like that?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 36:33
Alastair McDermott 36:34
That you can tell us about?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 36:37
Yeah, when when I first decided to niche down, I picked another industry. So instead of software, and SAS and b2b startups, which is, you know, kind of what I what I focus on was like, Well, alright, I also have a background in natural health care. So I figured, well, you know, I’ll reach out to this group, and it just, it was just not the right group. So it was a great learning experience, because I was able to kind of create all the things that I needed the marketing material I interviewed, you know, all doctors to see, okay, you know, what’s important to you, you know, to get their words, my words, I mean, you know, I did all the work. And then I realised it really just was not the right fit. And, but it was, I’m glad I did it.
Alastair McDermott 37:19
What, what did that feel like, when it not being the right fit? How did you know that it was not the right fit?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 37:25
That’s a good question. You know, I think it just, there wasn’t really, I think, with the types of doctors that I was looking for, they didn’t have the marketing experience, and sales experience like to, to a natural, listen, more kind of more natural mind a doctor, the thought of sales is kind of like an icky thing, like they just kind of really see sales is just uncomfortable. And, and because they didn’t have kind of like a built out marketing and sales system. And most of them didn’t, it, the value of a case study is kind of lost, because they put on their website, but that that’s very,
Alastair McDermott 38:02
Literally not as much value for them.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 38:05
Exactly, exactly. So that that really just, you know, just kind of wasn’t the right market for me. And I’m not saying that case studies wouldn’t work for that. But just I was looking at a very specific market, which was like, you know, maybe like chiropractors and naturopathic doctors. And,
Alastair McDermott 38:19
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 38:20
It was just a little bit different. So I had to step back and say, Okay, well, it’s not a fit. What else do I have in my background that I that I’ve got that strengthen, and it was, you know, the software?
Alastair McDermott 38:31
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 38:31
And seriously, just hit the ground running?
Alastair McDermott 38:35
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 38:35
I just, I just knew that was the right thing.
Alastair McDermott 38:37
How long did you go down that road that you that you then turned back, we into it? Like three months, six months, or? Just a couple of weeks?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 38:45
Alastair McDermott 38:45
We’re into it.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 38:46
It took about three months to to go through the process of vetting that market. And by that means that that would be like setting up, How many people do this but, you know, like, when I create my website, I don’t use my words. I interview before I even did my website, I interviewed people and said, Tell me what your challenges and problems are. And then I use that copy on my website.
Alastair McDermott 39:10
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 39:11
And so I did that same thing with this first market.
Alastair McDermott 39:14
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 39:14
Um, so that process took about three months, I have a website, you know, all of the sales pages, landing pages, all that stuff design, and then it probably took about three months after that, to realise that it just wasn’t the right fit. And so then I decided to just switch gears and you know, that it’s like, that’s what marketing is, you know, you have to test markets. You have to see, Yeah. What works, what doesn’t work until you find the sweet spot.
Alastair McDermott 39:41
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That that trial and error, and just on on the process that you went through. I didn’t do it through interviews, but I did do it through research and surveys. It took me about the same length of time about three months to do that. But I ended up with the same I ended up with a kind of a vast body of knowledge about my target audience the words they use the things they thought about what was important for them what’s not. So I think that doing something like that, I think is really important.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 40:06
Well, what’s interesting about that the first process is because I had such a great feedback from all of the doctors that I interviewed, I actually was able to write a marketing book for naturopathic doctors.
Alastair McDermott 40:17
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 40:18
So I wrote a book because I, because I got all as a great like information, and I realised what their challenges were. So I was able to write a marketing guide for them. That was very basic. So at least I was able to, like, you know, take that
Alastair McDermott 40:31
Create some value from it, yeah.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 40:33
That experience and create something from it. So,
Alastair McDermott 40:35
That’s amazing. Okay, and then the other thing I’m just wondering is, did the fact that you did this, did that then accelerate when you pick the second niche?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 40:46
Alastair McDermott 40:47
Do you think that was faster the second time because you’d already just got through it?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 40:50
Without a doubt. Without a doubt? Yeah, it was so because I knew what I needed to do. I’d be the order that I need to do it. I had the confidence, because I’d already done it. And like, I feel like, you know, now I could do the same thing. If I decided I wanted to go into a different niche.
Alastair McDermott 41:06
Yeah. How did you test that second niche to see was the value there was that it was a good fit? Because you’d already kind of been burned from that first time.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 41:14
Alastair McDermott 41:15
Did you? Did you feel like I need to do more testing here? Or what did you do?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 41:19
Yeah, yeah. Well, because it was a such a great fit, everything just kind of slid into place. You know, I had already had experience writing case studies from being in marketing for so long. So I had a few samples to show and I just started reaching out to people on LinkedIn saying, hey, you know, this is my background, I know, I can help you. And from there, you know, I got a couple great clients. And then you know, now it’s just referrals, you know, which is really great. So, yeah, just, it’s just a bit so,
Alastair McDermott 41:50
Cool. Thanks for sharing that story. It’s, I love to get those kinds of stories about, you know, what, people what worked, what didn’t work, and particularly when when people made a wrong turn and had to turn back and try something else. I think that’s really useful to to hear. What advice would you give somebody who is starting out and maybe trying to specialise, maybe trying to niche down who’s coming along, kind of in your footsteps?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 42:14
I would say, do not be afraid to niche down because the fear is that if I niche down, I’m going to lose all these clients where in reality, when you niche down, you actually gain more entry into the market than you ever could have before. Because niching down, shows you as an expert, you then begin to be an expert in that particular area that you’re in. And that is far more valuable than being the company that can do everything for everybody.
Alastair McDermott 42:50
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay, so who is an ideal client for you now?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 42:57
An ideal client is a b2b startup SAS company or a tech company.
Alastair McDermott 43:02
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 43:03
They’re providing, you know, solutions to their,
Alastair McDermott 43:06
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 43:06
Customers. That’s an ideal.
Alastair McDermott 43:08
Yeah. And who wants to take advantage of case studies want to create some content for their for their website? Their social media?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 43:15
Alastair McDermott 43:15
Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Okay. Well, hopefully that somebody listening to this is in that niche or know something in that niche. And so where can people find you if they’re looking to learn more about you?
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 43:27
My website is thecasestudycopywriter.com.
Alastair McDermott 43:31
Simple, I love it. And we will link to that in the show notes. Kate, thank you so much for being here with us today.
Kate the Case Study Copywriter 43:36
Oh, thanks, Alastair. It was a pleasure.
Alastair McDermott 43:42
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