What’s the most efficient way to create client-focused case studies for your Architecture/Engineering/Construction firm?

Discuss potential projects as part of your regular planning process. Lindsey Diven, CPSM, of Full Sail Partners, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, believes in planning for case studies and integrating their creation with other marketing projects to maximize your efforts.

Diven says, “Client success stories in the A/E/C industry can build trust, credibility, and showcase the firm’s expertise.”

Follow this five-step Case Study Success Cycle to streamline the process:

Step 1: Select Potential Projects

Diven suggests developing a long list of potential projects that will be completed in 2024. Your database can probably provide that information.

“Then talk to the project teams and see which ones would make a good client story,” she says.

Look for projects that will build your firm’s credibility as you seek future projects in a specific market.

After you have your long list, cut it down to a short list of potential projects that could be featured in case studies.

Consider the following criteria:

  • Is the client happy with the project right now?
  • Does the project promote a strategic goal?
  • Was it challenging?
  • Did your solution provide great results?
  • When will the project be completed?

If you want to maximize your efforts, combine work on an industry award entry with the creation of a case study. These awards often require project details, great photography and graphics, and client testimonials.

You also could use a video testimonial as the basis for a written success story.

You may need to schedule an additional client interview to dig deeper into the client’s challenges and how your firm’s solution led to a successful outcome.

In the case study, you can offer additional insights about how your A/E/C firm went the extra mile or how your professional solved an unexpected challenge. Through this effort, you may uncover information that could be included in your award entry.

If your firm conducts client surveys, watch for exemplary comments.

Diven says her firm uses a client feedback tool throughout the duration of its projects. “When somebody gives us exceptional feedback, we reach out to them,” she reports. That happy client may be willing to participate in a case study.

Step 2: Schedule Case Studies by Quarter

The next step is to approve a short list of signature projects. Some firms prepare plans for each market sector.

Then, in marketing meetings, participants can decide which clients should be contacted. Diven says the process could take six to eight weeks.

Whoever knows the happy client the best should seek their permission to participate in the case study. They must agree to a 30- to 45-minute interview and review a draft.

When would be the ideal time to interview the happy client? Your firm may wish to discuss case study creation when the project is near completion or after a final invoice is submitted.

If photography is needed, you’ll also need to schedule that task when conditions are the best. You may need to wait for summer to avoid snow cover. Can contractors, owners, or other partners help with photography fees?

If applicable, align the case study creation with preparing industry awards. When are the deadlines? Could you coordinate efforts with your happy clients to streamline the process?

Step 3: Write Case Studies

Who will write the case study? Internal writers may handle the task, or firms can hire freelance writers. Before the interview, writers should know why the firm wants the case study and what project elements should be emphasized.

What goal did the successful project achieve? What obstacles, such as a tight time frame, innovative approach, or sustainable design, had to be overcome? The case study should align with your firm’s strategic goals and mission.

Diven says her firm uses a standard set of questions when interviewing clients for case studies. They’re customized depending on the client and type of project.

Full Sail Partners conducts video interviews, which can be edited to different lengths or transformed into a written case study.

Questions are given to happy clients before interviews so they can prepare. The interviewer may ask follow-up questions.

After the draft is prepared, the company can review the case study for accuracy. Then, the happy client can review and comment. Make sure to include a call to action for the readers (whom they should contact for more information).

Step 4: Promote the Case Study

Here’s a critical step that shouldn’t be overlooked. How will you promote your case study?

You could:

  • Post it on your website
  • Share it with prospects
  • Use snippets in social media posts
  • Turn quotes into testimonials for proposals
  • Use the case study as the basis for a blog post

“I’m all about repurposing content,” Diven says. For example, when a client praises the firm’s work, Full Sail often posts its clients’ words in social media posts.

Step 5: Identify Future Case Studies

To build on your progress, encourage your firm to take a proactive approach. Identify potential case studies on an ongoing basis. Before you know it, you’ll have compelling success stories demonstrating how your firm has helped clients overcome challenges.

As the year progresses, marketers, business developers, and project teams may identify signature projects for future needs. Get them into the pipeline so the marketing team can deliver engaging case studies that position your firm for success.

Need a Case Study?

Are you considering a case study for your firm? Please feel free to contact me for more information at blaizecommunications@gmail.com. I’m also available to present on developing impactful case studies or understanding the benefits and pitfalls of using Artificial Intelligence for content creation.

I participated in Diven’s Marketers Take Flight podcast, “Stand Out in an AI World with Client-Focused Case Studies.”

Find Lindsey Diven, CPSM, of Full Sail Partners on LinkedIn.

For more tips about case studies and storytelling in the A/E/C industry, subscribe to A/E/C Connect LinkedIn Newsletter.

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