Case studies are proof of concept papers. They typically introduce a company or organization that had a problem. Then they show how your product/service solved that problem. They are especially important for early adopter products where the prospect wants to see results before pursuing your option. They can be listed on your website, but are also requested by the press who will use them to create success stories.
How to Get Case Studies & Other References?
So far as referencing for accounts, the approach I’ve used is as follows:
Logos. I recommend using direct sale (not Amazon provided) customer logos without permission–unless they have expressly asked us not to. Better to apologize than seek for permission–and most we would talk with can’t give it anyway.
In addition, almost every large company I have worked with, and those I was a Vice President with (Motorola, GE, Harcourt) had it on record (usually within their purchase agreements that they submitted) that suppliers could not use their name or logo (unless a reseller or alliance–which are given express permission).
However, it was almost always overlooked. It was mainly on the books in the event that a company abused the logo, made false statements, etc. and we had to do something about it. Magazines like PC World and PC Magazine also say you can’t use their logos in their fine print (much of it never signed (win an award and you don’t sign anything))–yet I (and hundreds of companies) have used them on websites, collateral, and packaging for decades and have never been asked to remove them.
I would use a customer’s logos on our website, and materials for every direct company (unless they specifically request otherwise).
Testimonials. If they submit or even respond to a request for testimonials, I consider this as permission to use freely. I would send our customers (the person who purchased and uses our software) a request for a brief 1-2 sentence testimonial. We can handle this through support or sales–whoever has helped and talked with the customer.
Case Studies. I’ve asked key accounts if we could use them in a case study. Some have agreed–if we mention them by type (a large movie producer) rather than name, and I have still used them. Some are fine–since it will give them extra press and exposure.
Negotiate in advance. I also have a rule with sales teams to never give away anything without something in return (makes the giveaway appear even more valuable) and I have used Case Studies and testimonials as one of the options. I may consider ________ if we can also get your ok to do a case study (or testimonial) if you’re happy with it (and we write it in the agreement). Many will just participate if we ask.
Modify EULA. In general, I also recommend we add a line in our EULA that states, “As a general rule, we may include customer names in marketing materials unless specifically requested not to.” This covers us in the event we ever have concerns–and then we can remove it, but they can’t say we didn’t have permission.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, nor do I practice one on TV, so I cannot provide legal counsel–this is strictly based on my personal experience to date which seems to have worked.
You can find out more about case studies by visiting this link about case studies at, “That White Paper Guy.” Gordon has great resources including a good Q&A, articles, book reviews and more.
Resources & Examples
The following are case study resources:
- Initial Case Study Questions (Word). Questions to draw out the answers for a case study. Provided by Lorenzo Communications.
- Sample – Blake Case Story-Trucking Company-90 million-Tell The Winning Story (PDF). Demonstrates how the concepts from Tell the Winning Story helped win an $89 million verdict. Graphic above.
- Sample – CASE STUDY FOR Damages Advocate (PDF).