At every company I have worked for it has always seemed to be a struggle when it came to getting our customers to agree to participate in case studies and/or even having their logo posted on their site. I don’t think I am alone on this so I wanted to share some tactics I have learned over the years of getting a ‘yes’ from your customers when it comes to their participation in your marketing efforts.

1.       Offer a Discount

A common method is to get a ‘yes’ before your customer has officially become a customer. Depending upon your sales model, companies often have contracts associated with the use of their products and services. This is a great opportunity to add a clause that outlines what would constitute as a ‘marketing discount’.

I have seen this applied in two different ways. The first is an incremental discount that scales up depending upon their level of participation.

2% discount = their brand name mentioned in text content

5% discount = their brand name mentioned in text content and use of their corporate logo on materials

10% discount = their brand name mentioned in text content, use of corporate logo on materials and are willing to take reference calls

15% discount = their brand name mentioned in text content, use of corporate logo on materials, are willing to take reference calls and will participate in a branded case study

The second method is a flat discount for your ideal situation which may be a combination of the above, something entirely different or customized based on the customer.

2.       Illustrate the Benefit to Them

People generally like to talk about themselves and while the brand is gaining visibility so isn’t the decision-maker within the organization that decided to purchase or products or services. A positive story that you want to share about them not only highlights and illustrates the benefits of working with you, but you are giving someone an opportunity to publicly display their success. The bonus is that if you are able to get the decision-maker on your side and amped about participating, you have someone rooting for the go-ahead from within the company.

Another angle is the benefit to the brand. I have come across brands that wanted to do anything and everything to get publicity. A majority of case studies served two purposes; to use as a sales tool and to use to gain press coverage. Share your PR strategy with the customer and outline exactly what publications you are targeting and ask them where they would like to see themselves featured.

Make it about them, not you.

3.       Minimize Involvement and Do the Work

Customers may be hesitant to say yes to a case study because they just don’t know what you expect from them. Do you need them to provide you with data and reports? Do they need to perform historical reviews to illustrate ‘before and after’? What do they need to do?

Share other published case studies and provide them with a detailed timeline from start to finish detailing exactly what they are responsible for  and what you will create for them to approve. Perhaps a format like a video case study is more appropriate and easier for them to accomplish.

Either approach you take, getting a ‘yes’ from a customer when it comes to publicly branding their relationship with your company is not unlike to the sales process. You need to uncover why they are not saying yes and have something ready. If legal teams get in the way, my suggestion is to look for other mentions of their brand using other products/services and ask why they were able to participate with them and not you.

Who knows?  Perhaps your product is just so unique that they do not want to give their competitors any advantage but if your PR efforts are what you say they are, they are going to find out anyways so this is not always the best excuse. If you still are unable to get to a ‘yes’, you can still publish the story under a cover like ‘a leading retailer in the US…’

How are you gaining participation from customers when it comes to your marketing efforts? Are you struggling with this as well?