We get asked for our opinions all the time. Makes sense, it’s what we do – helping clients with their content-related, well, everything – strategy, operations, technology, …
One of the most common questions we get is about who should own which asset. Or which team should be accountable or get credit for a piece of content or a channel’s success, or failure.
Both good, and important, things to think about.
But it is a bit of a “how long is a piece of string” question. The important part is not “who” owns the process, but rather that there is both an owner and a process – full stop.
I’ll use customer cases studies as an example.
In our decade-plus of working with clients large and small, we’ve seen case studies live in many different parts of an org – product, marketing, sales, customer service/experience… sometimes in its entirety, sometimes shared across the teams for different elements.
Where we see success in creating and maintaining this and other important assets, is when there is an accountable owner and a clear, shared, adhered-to process that gets the asset from ideation through to being updated and eventually archived in a consistent, efficient, and effective manner.
Considering the Ownership Options
Continuing with the case study as the example, the question of who should own the process of writing and maintaining them can be a complicated one. Multiple teams within a company could potentially take on this task, including marketing, sales, customer success, and more.
- The marketing team. This team is often responsible for creating content that showcases the company’s products/services and how they benefit customers. Case studies are a natural fit for this type of content. They can be used across various marketing channels, like social media, email, and the company website, to attract potential customers by highlighting the success stories of current ones.
- The sales team. Sales representatives are often the primary point of contact for clients, and therefore have access to firsthand information about the client’s experience with the company. This information can be incredibly valuable in crafting a compelling case study. Furthermore, having the sales team create and maintain the company’s case studies can ensure that they are tailored to the specific needs and interests of potential clients.
- The customer success team. This group could also be good candidates for owning the process. These teams are responsible for building strong relationships with clients and helping them achieve success with the company’s products/services. As a result, they often have access to in-depth information about the client’s experience that can help them produce a detailed and personalized case study that highlights the client’s specific needs and challenges.
Others could be considered as well.
This goes to show that there is no one “right” team who should be tasked with creating and maintaining client case studies. Ultimately, the selected team or person depends on the company’s structure, resources, and priorities.
Other considerations, on top of having a defined process– did I mention that was the most important thing – when determining the best team to own the responsibility of building a library of amazing, brand-supporting client references,
Who knows and understands your products and services best?
Whether it’s cooking your mom’s favorite chicken dish or getting the latest stats on your favorite hockey team – you go to the best source for that information – your mom, and in my case, my son respectively for the recipe and stats. When it comes to a convincing case study, it’s crucial to have teams that have a deep understanding of the company’s products or services, as well as the industry in which it operates, help shape the story. A team that is knowledgeable about the intricacies of the company’s offerings can effectively highlight the unique selling points and benefits in the case study. This knowledge is essential to accurately capturing the value and impact of the client’s experience, as well as convincingly conveying the WFIM (what’s in it for me) for choosing the company’s product or service – namely, success.
A story isn’t a story without a good storyteller.
Next, you want to think about who has the strongest storytelling and writing skills. A compelling case study is not just a collection of facts and figures, but a narrative that engages the readers and effectively communicates the client’s journey. Whoever is tasked with this assignment should be able to craft a captivating story that highlights the client’s challenges, the solutions provided by the company, and the positive outcomes achieved. This storytelling ability is crucial in capturing the attention of potential clients and influencing their decision-making process. If
Furthermore, the team should also have excellent interviewing and research skills. They will need to conduct interviews with clients to gather the necessary information and insights for the case study. These interviews should be conducted in a way that elicits detailed and meaningful responses, extracting key points that highlight the client’s experience and results. Additionally, the team should be proactive in researching industry trends, best practices, and competitive landscapes to provide a comprehensive context for the case study.
Note storytelling and writing skills are not mutually inclusive. Often these are not found in the same person or even people on the same team. Crafting the story comes first, a great copy editor can always come in after the story is captured to ensure it is conveyed in a compelling and grammatically correct way.
Next up – finding who knows where to get the stories from.
Finding the best client stories to tell is important. Not every client engagement, even if they are all successful, has the makings for a great case study. Identifying the most important stories to share requires a deep understanding of customer engagements, as well as the ability to collaborate effectively with clients. Strong interpersonal skills to build a rapport and establish a trusted relationship with clients is a great place to start ensuring that the case study accurately reflects the client’s experiences and aligns with their goals and messaging. It also provides an opportunity for the team to gather feedback and make revisions as needed to create a finalized case study that both the company and the client are satisfied with.
A process to coordinate the chaos.
I’ve covered ownership, who should be involved, and the core skills needed to build a great case study. Now for THE most important element – the clear, well-defined, shared, and followed process to pull all these elements together.
I have a secret … no ONE process is THE best way. Sorry. No magic bullet here.
However, there are common elements that must be included in whatever process is.
- A defined process that is tested, shared, and enforced … and hopefully facilitated by technologies for asset management, workflow, and content calendaring.
- Clearly defined and documented roles and responsibilities – think RACI.
- Deadlines and SLAs (service level agreements – yes you need these internally as well as with contractors, vendors, and agencies).
- Standards and templates
Without all these elements to support a well-defined and enforced process, teams may (continue to) struggle to produce consistent and effective case studies, regardless of which team is responsible.
Lastly, it’s important to have a team that is results-driven and focused on measuring the impact of case studies. Tracking and analyzing the performance of the case studies, such as engagement metrics, lead generation, and conversion rates – helps inform the process and the teams involved on what an effective case study looks like. This data-driven approach allows the team to continuously improve their case study efforts, identifying what works well and what can be optimized for future success.
So, while there is no definitive answer to who is the best team to own the responsibility of writing and maintaining client case studies (or any other content asset type), certain qualities and capabilities should be considered. Ultimately, it’s the team with a well-documented, supported, enforced, and results-driven process that will consistently turn out high-quality and impactful content that generates and increases audience engagement and attracts potential clients.