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When it comes to producing case studies, two of the biggest challenges are identifying promising stories and getting customers to participate. Yet, according to a MarketingSherpa survey of nearly 1,000 B2B marketers, encouraging customers to submit testimonials and case studies ranked #2 of the most effective tactics for developing marketing content.

That said, there are good – and bad – ways to solicit customer stories. SAS – a technology company selling to other businesses – does a fantastic job of killing two birds with one stone by promoting and “selling” its customer reference program online.

Invite Participation 
On its main customer success page, SAS invites customers to “share their success.” Once customers click on the link, they’re taken to an overview of the customer reference program. By soliciting customer participation in this way, SAS alleviates its sales organization of needing to continually identify case study candidates.
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Focus on the Customer
At a high level, SAS focuses on what’s in it for the customer – for example, by “spotlighting your organization…and you” – and outlines the benefits of participating. In doing so, it offers the customer an incentive to participate, instead of making the customer feel as if SAS is the only one that will see value.

Plan to Spread the Word
Next SAS spells out all the opportunities for getting the customer visibility, including media coverage, speaking engagements, and even applying for industry awards. I particularly like this statement: “By telling your story – the way you want it told – you give SAS the power to help you build recognition for yourself and your organization.” Equally impressive, it creates a communications plan detailing how it will get the word out.

Set Expectations
To address common concerns about the level of time and effort required on the customer’s end, SAS spells out the process for both written case studies and video testimonials. It covers everything from how long the interview will last and what types of questions to expect, to what to wear for a video shoot and what happens after the interview. It also points customers to published case studies and videos so they can get a firsthand feel for them.

Change the Dynamics
The information that SAS shares on its site helps put customers at ease. But equally important, by detailing this on its website and inviting customers to submit their successes, SAS changes the dynamics by treating the process as a two-way street. And let’s face it, when customers voluntarily raise their hand to participate in a case study, you’ve likely got a great story on your hands.