Creating a compelling case study for an Architecture/Engineering/Construction firm requires teamwork. If marketing and business development collaborate, the case study could help position the firm for future work, and that’s a shared goal for both groups.

A case study, also known as a customer success story, offers a happy customer’s insights into what made a project great. Components typically include a customer’s challenge, the firm’s solution, and qualitative or quantitative results.

Most professional services firms offer project summaries. But the happy client’s point of view is often missing or only included in a testimonial. A case study allows a firm to show how its solutions made a difference for its happy client and their end users.

Upper management may decide to pursue a case study. A company’s marketing/communication team, business development personnel, or seller-doers also could promote its use.

Which Project Should Be Featured in an A/E/C Case Study?

Thoughtful project selection will give a firm the best return on its investment. Here are some considerations:

  • The chosen project reflects an area of strategic focus
  • The case study would reveal an innovative solution desired by prospects and existing clients
  • A firm wants to promote its customer’s insights about a significant project

The success stories should focus on messages that support the firm’s strategic goals. Elements of a case study can be used in countless ways.

Marketing can turn to the vetted document for testimonials, metrics, photos, and graphics for proposals, project updates, and client interviews. A company can transform the story into a blog post or video featuring the happy client.

Business development and seller-doers can send the case study as a follow-up for a prospect. That individual or entity may face the same challenges as the happy customer featured in the case study.

Set Triggers to Capture Project Information

Stacey Ho

To best identify a project that would make a good case study, Stacey Ho, CPSM, of Otak, Portland, Oregon, suggests that a good client contact program can help a firm identify projects with good stories to share. She’s the firm’s customer relationship management and market data manager.

At Otak, a multidisciplinary firm, marketers often check in with clients for feedback when projects are 95% complete. Project managers give their approval before clients are contacted.

Filters are set in the firm’s CRM system to identify strategic projects based on size or market. For example, suppose a firm wants to pursue more bridge repair work in the future. In that case, the focus might be on getting success stories for similar projects.
At the project check-in, the client shares their thoughts about the company’s process. The client may explain why they think a project was successful and what matters most. They also may explain how a project will benefit end users, who may differ from the client.
During the client check-in, the firm’s interviewer — often a marketer — can probe for human-interest stories related to the completed project.

How did the project help solve a challenge? What are the expected results?

At the 95% stage, there also should be time to resolve any issues before the project is closed, Ho adds.
Because of these check-ins, firms get valuable client input. Client surveys also can obtain project insights.
Ho emphasizes the benefit of capturing data while the client is still involved with the project. Three months later could be too late; the client may forget details, or critical staff may be unavailable.

CRM Can Help Identify Potential Case Study Projects

The project data gained from the check-in and surveys can help identify strategic projects that could be featured in case studies or used in proposals or other collateral.

Marketers, business development personnel, and seller-doers can provide input on potential projects. Then someone who knows the happy client could ask them if they want to participate in a case study. What’s in it for them? The happy client receives free publicity that explains how they successfully resolved a problem.

A Collaborative Effort Results in Firmwide Success

A case study provides valuable third-party verification. If marketing and business development work together from the start, the completed customer success story will help deliver the results both teams desire.

A strategic case study can help marketers expand brand recognition in a designated market. Business developers and seller-doers will have a document they can send to prospects who may face the same challenges resolved by the happy client.

How are you capturing successful project outcomes at your firm?

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