Actionable Advice and Brilliant Questions to Create Killer Legal Industry Case Studies
Client success stories are powerfully persuasive, making case studies valuable collateral in any industry. Research by DemandGen shows:
Legal vendors need to write and share client success stories because attorneys hold proven, real-life results in high esteem. A convincing case study is exactly the type of hard evidence attorneys need to believe you can deliver results.
Writing killer case studies requires experienced interviewing skills and a knack for good storytelling. Get out the shovel because it’s time to research, form thoughtful strategies, and dig deep. The interviewing and information gathering processes build a solid foundation for a well-crafted story that resonates with potential clients and helps them trust you.
Below are 6 actionable tips and 5 brilliant questions designed to guide you in eliciting information that is revealing, pertinent, and descriptive and then using that information effectively in a killer client success story.
- Setting the Stage for a Killer Legal Case Study
- 4 tips of hard-won wisdom
- 5 Brilliant Questions to Create a Killer Legal Case Study
- including how you’ll use the information gathered in writing the story
- Writing a Killer Legal Case Study
- 2 brilliant tips for success
Setting the Stage for a Killer Legal Industry Case Study
Tip No. 1: Give your client time to prepare.
Provide your client with written questions ahead of time. This gives them time to perform any necessary research and dig up any information they don’t know offhand. You want specific answers and thoughtful responses during the interview, not a bunch of time-wasting answers like “Uh, I don’t know. I’ll find out and get back to you.”
Taking notes during an interview is okay, but don’t rely on them solely. If you ask the questions below, you’ll likely receive detailed information in return. You don’t want to have to halt a fruitful discussion to write down a massive string of facts and data.
Ergo, let your client respond to your questions by email. Or record the interview. Or both.
If you get emailed responses, always follow up with a brief phone call or in-person chat to get quotes to use in the story. If you quote your clients from an email, it may sound stiff and rehearsed because many people write much differently than they speak. A real conversation gives you quotes that sound much more authentic.You get quotes that sound much more authentic by talking with people directly versus emailing. Click To Tweet
Tip No. 2: Make the interview quick and productive by asking the right questions.
No matter how great you make them sound in the story (more on that later), there’s no getting around the fact that you are getting much more out of the deal than your client.
Your client is parting with precious (i.e., billable) time to grant you this favor. And it can take a substantial amount of (non-billable) time to discuss all the factors involved in a case study. The saying “time is money” is truer in law firms more than any other profession.
So, no screwing around. You need to be fast, but you also must be efficient. Being fast completely backfires if you have to redo the interview because you got the eggs but missed the bacon.
The goal: Get the most valuable information in a brief amount of time.
The strategy: Prepare carefully considered questions that unearth facts and details that produce the most detailed and interesting story possible.
To that end …
Tip No. 3: Don’t ask for a lot of background information on the business.
Not because those details aren’t important. They are. Which is exactly why the information is typically available on the firm’s website.In setting the stage for writing a killer #legal industry case study, check online first for your client's company details and background information. Click To Tweet
If during the interview you ask for basic details like what legal service they specialize in or how long they’ve been in business, and that information readily available online, you risk looking at best, unthoughtful and worse, lazy.
You can and should, however, confirm the correct spelling of the names of everyone involved. Some people may not be listed on the website. Make sure you know everyone’s titles and the importance of the roles they played as events unfolded. The same goes for proper names of other businesses or products involved.
Sure, you’ll probably give the story to your client to review before publishing, and they can make necessary corrections then. But, don’t look careless and haphazard by misspelling the managing partner’s name or calling them a personal injury firm when they also practice other types of litigation. Get these basics down ahead of time and make sure they’re correct.
Tip No. 4: Check out other resources, not just this one.
This article is super helpful. It’s a fabulous guide outlining critical factors for success. But it is by no means the end all and be all of the “how to create case studies” world. That’s Google.
In addition to the 5 brilliant questions below, check out other resources for inspiration and examples of case study interview questions such as HubSpot’s 100 Case Study Interview Questions.
Study other case studies in your field and evaluate what works and what doesn’t. There are plenty of badly written case studies out there. Often, you can learn more by studying what NOT to do than listening to a bunch of advice on how to do something correctly (as evidenced by the plethora of “The Top 10 Things Not to do when [fill in the blank]” posts that get tons of views and shares.)
How do you know a legal industry case study is a big fat failure?
- You don’t know for sure how the lives of those affected improved or how the company itself benefited from the experience.
- You’re not interested at all in what steps the company took to reach their goals.
- You’re interested in those steps, but never find out.
5 Brilliant Questions to Create a Killer Legal Industry Case Study
These questions form your story’s basic outline. Their answers create the story’s overarching theme. These questions help produce a complete narrative for a powerful story that hits all the right notes.
You may fine-tune the questions to suit your or your client’s business. And you should ask other questions to round out the story and explain the steps your client took to success with your product or service.
But if you don’t ask some form of these brilliant questions, you risk leaving behind a lot of untapped material.
Question No. 1: Before they reached out to you, how did they know they needed help? What difficulties were they experiencing or what goals were they not reaching?
Ask them to describe their situation as it was before you solved whatever problems your service or product solved.
This sets the stage for a dynamic story. And one to which potential clients can easily relate. Each symptom your client’s firm displayed is another opportunity for readers who are experiencing the same problems to recognize themselves in the story. Readers will instantly see that they are in your client’s old shoes. And, hopefully, they’ll start to envision themselves being guided by you toward a solution.
Question No. 2: What other solutions did they try? How did those solutions fail them?
Part of a killer case study includes showing how your product or service performs better than others. You also want your client to look good. One reason clients are hesitant to participate in case studies is they’re afraid they’ll come out looking bad. That’s a reasonable fear when part of the story’s central point stems from them experiencing failure or inefficiency on some level.
So don’t portray unsuccessful attempts at previous solutions as their own personal business failures. Turn the tables. Show that no matter the end result, your client’s initial decisions to try alternative solutions were wise and well-intentioned.
Then remember: The other vendors and service providers failed your client. Prior products or services lacked the ability to meet your client’s needs.
Don’t linger here long. This isn’t a stage for a side-by-side comparative analysis. Without slamming other vendors or their products and services, point out the ways in which you succeeded where others didn’t. Use simple, fact-of-the-matter language—like your writing a science report.
Facts are more convincing than slander and libel. Hence, the well-known, popular saying, “Facts over fisticuffs!” (Never head that one before? You should get out more.)
Question No. 3: Ask about the due diligence or vendor vetting process they used to assess your company.
What doubts or hesitations did they have about using your product or service?
It’s highly unlikely that the concerns your client faced are unique to them. Plenty of other buyers will share the same worries. Describing them will help bring the reader to yet another “Yeah, me too” moment.
Plus, vetting vendors is no small task for law firms.
Ethical and professional standards require that attorneys ensure that the vendors they work with maintain the same confidentiality and online security levels they are required to maintain. Years of regular reports of massive data breaches in the news provide good cause for many law firm leaders to explore more fully how potential vendors secure private data.
In addition, everyone is looking to spend less and get more. Department leaders and in-house counsel are under a lot of pressure to show the ROI for their expenditures. Many develop vendor management programs to assist them.
Showing your client performed the due diligence necessary to vet your company makes it easier for prospects to trust you. They are assured that you’re worth the time to consider.
This is kind of a big deal. Deciding on a vendor can be a time-consuming, lengthy process. Case studies impart valuable information that puts you ahead of other vendors in the process.
Question No. 4: Find out how they knew your product or service worked.
What were your client’s stated goals? What KPIs did they use or what other indicators of success can they provide to demonstrate the effectiveness of the solution you provided?
If these aren’t listed or specifically measured, ask them to describe how they knew your product or service was producing the desired effects.
Were they able to collect more fees? Review more documents faster? Did they gain new clients? What tangible results did the firm experience? Look also for intangible benefits such as improved employee morale.
How long did it take them to see results? What did they notice happening first? Do they expect to see continued improvements?
Dig in deep. This is the heart of the story.
You need more than just a list of benefits. You want as much information as possible so you can go into more details describing each benefit. To that end —
Question No. 5: Ask “Why?”
“Why” is a powerful discovery tool. So many things we do every day in business, and in life for that matter, are done on autopilot. Or, we figure others have determined the best way to do a thing, so we don’t question it.
Getting your clients to think about and answer “why” can reveal a deep level of insight that provides details that elevate your story to an all-new level of “killer.” It’s the difference between a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and steak and potatoes.
If you could get away with it, asking “Why?” at the end of every statement your clients makes would produce pure gold.
But, it’s highly unlikely they’ll tolerate that. You must use your “why” powers judiciously. But do use them. Dig deeper by asking “why” whenever an action was taken without an apparent reason or a result was produced without a clear origin.
Asking “why” and getting insightful responses happens most authentically during in-person discussions or phone calls. This is one reason real conversations are vital to creating killer case study content.
The results can open your eyes to a new understanding of your client’s business and their reasons for selecting your product or service. You may discover entirely new benefits to explore and new pain points to address that you had not known existed.
No story is complete without “why” to drive interest and curiosity.
Writing A Killer Legal Industry Case Study
Tip No. 5: You’re not the hero of the story.
I know you want to be the hero of the story. That’s the whole point, right?
But resist the urge. Your client is the story’s hero. You want readers to relate, right? So you must share a story they relate to, one in which they can imagine themselves in the driver’s seat.
Don’t worry, you still get a killer part in the story. Your role is that of a helpful guide. A valuable resource, to be sure. They couldn’t have done it without you—everyone will see that. You are indispensable to the plot and to their success.
But remember, it’s your client’s success story. It’s not your company brochure. It’s not a sales letter. Don’t turn it into an “About Us” story for your business.
The focus stays on the client. Readers will want to be like your client in the story, making the same smart decisions and earning the same fabulous outcomes as your client did because they chose to partner with you.
Alas, I am not the genius to come up with the “client as the hero” notion. I am only smart enough to pass along a good nugget of wisdom when I see one. I learned this one from the folks at StoryBrand. If you’re interested, you can read more from StoryBrand about making your customer the hero in your marketing materials.
Tip No. 6: Look for a larger trend.
Depending on the benefits your clients received, you may be able to frame the story within a larger context. Then, you can include information and research from outside sources in the story that shares your client’s success in relation to a larger story.
Say, for example, you provide technology that automates the contract review process. Your client’s success story could fit into a number of larger narratives such as:
- How many big and small law firms are adopting this new technology and why?
- How the use of artificial intelligence affects law firm profits.
- Whether contract review technology affects the rate at which law firms hire new associates.
And so on. The story’s outcome delivers a greater impact if it is part of a much larger, outside story. You’ll also benefit from the increased interest in the latest trends by making your story a part of them. Have a look at Google Trends to keep up with what’s happening.
Case studies are compelling proof of your ability to help your clients succeed.
Client success stories are more than just individual pieces of highly valuable marketing content. You can also use quotes and examples from case studies in other content. (Here’s the chance to do a comparative analysis!) Taking the time, care, and attention to develop and write a killer case study will continue to pay off down the road.