Masters of SaaS

Crafting Irresistible Case Studies for SaaS: The Power of Storytelling - Joel Klettke @Case Study Buddy

May 25, 2023 Todd Chambers Season 2 Episode 2
Crafting Irresistible Case Studies for SaaS: The Power of Storytelling - Joel Klettke @Case Study Buddy
Masters of SaaS
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Masters of SaaS
Crafting Irresistible Case Studies for SaaS: The Power of Storytelling - Joel Klettke @Case Study Buddy
May 25, 2023 Season 2 Episode 2
Todd Chambers

In this episode, we talk to Joel Klettke, a storytelling powerhouse and the founder of Case Study Buddy, a company that helps businesses craft irresistible case studies to showcase their success stories. With over a decade of experience in copywriting and content strategy, Joel is a master at crafting narratives that captivate and persuade audiences.

Whether he's working with Fortune 500 companies or small startups, Joel's mission is always the same: to help businesses tell their stories in a way that connects with their target audience and drives results. With his razor-sharp wit and infectious enthusiasm, Joel is a true force to be reckoned with in the world of marketing and communication.

Join us for another episode of Masters of SaaS as we dive into the world of case studies and why they are crucial for SaaS companies. Along the way, Joel covers a range of topics, including why case studies matter, why companies struggle to create them, proactive vs reactive storytelling, and how to make the customer the hero of the story. 

Don't miss out on the latest stories from top SaaS experts - delivered straight to your inbox. Join our list:

More about Case Study Buddy:
Joel on LinkedIn:
Joel on Twitter:

Upraw Media:
Upraw on LinkedIn:
Upraw on Instagram:
Upraw on Twitter:

If you are keen to know more about Upraw Media or be a Masters of SaaS guest speaker, visit or DM us on LinkedIn. We are also on Youtube if you'd like to put a face to the names and voices of the best in SaaS. Thanks for tuning in!

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we talk to Joel Klettke, a storytelling powerhouse and the founder of Case Study Buddy, a company that helps businesses craft irresistible case studies to showcase their success stories. With over a decade of experience in copywriting and content strategy, Joel is a master at crafting narratives that captivate and persuade audiences.

Whether he's working with Fortune 500 companies or small startups, Joel's mission is always the same: to help businesses tell their stories in a way that connects with their target audience and drives results. With his razor-sharp wit and infectious enthusiasm, Joel is a true force to be reckoned with in the world of marketing and communication.

Join us for another episode of Masters of SaaS as we dive into the world of case studies and why they are crucial for SaaS companies. Along the way, Joel covers a range of topics, including why case studies matter, why companies struggle to create them, proactive vs reactive storytelling, and how to make the customer the hero of the story. 

Don't miss out on the latest stories from top SaaS experts - delivered straight to your inbox. Join our list:

More about Case Study Buddy:
Joel on LinkedIn:
Joel on Twitter:

Upraw Media:
Upraw on LinkedIn:
Upraw on Instagram:
Upraw on Twitter:

If you are keen to know more about Upraw Media or be a Masters of SaaS guest speaker, visit or DM us on LinkedIn. We are also on Youtube if you'd like to put a face to the names and voices of the best in SaaS. Thanks for tuning in!

Todd (00:01.170)

Hey, Joel, welcome to the show.

Joel Klettke (00:04.552)

Thanks for having me excited to chat.

Todd (00:05.730)

Yeah, absolutely my pleasure. So Joel, you're the founder of K-Study Buddy, which definitely has a ring to it. And if you haven't worked it out already, you guys are the creators of K-Study. Yeah, maybe you can just give us kind of the back story and why you created the company and who you are.

Joel Klettke (00:22.671)

Sure, so case study buddy, like you say, we work with sort of the mid-sized enterprise and we help them capture and scale and profit from customer success stories. So kind of more than just a freelancer writing a piece or a videographer shooting a piece, we bring sort of an entire department to bear for the companies we work with. So helping them with everything from working on the challenges of getting buy-in and providing some guidance and ideas and resources there all the way through to actually managing the whole approvals process

coordinating everything right down to to final design so really getting in the weeds for clients. The business itself you know came out of basically a side project so I my own background is in conversion copywriting just give me one quick here.

Todd (01:10.153)

Ah, interesting.

Joel Klettke (01:16.071)

Alright, yeah, so to recap, my background is in conversion copywriting. And so I, you know, worked with large the same market that case study buddy does now midsize to enterprise. And I was closing out a project with a company and someone on their board said, Hey, I advise this, this little company called Ping Board and they need a case study is that something you do. I was the kind of person that was well connected. I thought, well, for you for sure, sure, I'll, you know, I'll give it a go. And it was in doing that project that my eyes were open to the

Todd (01:39.853)


Joel Klettke (01:45.971)

I think I've realized a lot of things really quickly. I think number one, these are hard to do. There's a lot of moving pieces. There are always multiple stakeholders involved. There are a lot of different disciplines to be good at from interviewing to writing to project management and then making sure it's set up to sell at the end. There's a lot of demand for it though. Every B2B company should be capturing customer stories and using those to their advantage in marketing and sales and lead gen in nurture in all of it.

Joel Klettke (02:16.911)

And so the other side of it was that I saw this as something that you could build a process around You know something that I thought I could build a team around and and there are even though it's challenging There are repeatable steps are repeatable phases that you go through and so it occurred to me that that it could be something that you Could you could build out a team and a company to focus on and then the final straw for me was kind of going well Surely someone's done this surely someone has come in and said well This is our whole focus. We've got this full team and when I looked at on it. It just wasn't there You know there was a handful of

Joel Klettke (02:46.591)

and people who had sort of made case studies are focused in a smaller capacity, but I didn't see any kind of dedicated productized services or teams or agencies just doing this. And so kind of soft launched it quietly, did all in the early going was me creating and writing and just trying to whack the moles in the process and figure out things that could go wrong. And then over time brought in my partner, Jen, to work on the company.

Todd (03:07.691)

Yeah, I am.

Joel Klettke (03:16.171)

grew the team organically from there. So it actually wasn't a full-time focus until right before the pandemic. Kind of shifted away from the conversion side and put that stuff on pause to see what we could do with this and explore what was possible here. And so just been, yeah, since then we've spun out into video and brought in the offering in terms of the types of formats we can deliver and things like that. So it's been an adventurous seven years with a lot of highs

Todd (03:21.550)


Todd (03:43.050)

Thank you. Bye.

Joel Klettke (03:45.971)


Todd (03:46.750)

which is exactly the learnings I wanna try and extract from you today. So how many cases have you created? I think I've had 1500 plus to date. I think I've had 1500 plus to date.

Joel Klettke (03:54.991)

Yeah, and that plus, I mean, it's at some point we just kind of stopped counting. It's, you know, I wouldn't be surprised to hear it was over 1750 or 2000. You know, it's, we create a lot. We have some clients that over the course of our relationship, we've done over 100 just for them. You know, I can think of a cybersecurity client and, you know, some of our bigger enterprise clients over the past two, three years, and then we've easily crossed that 100

Todd (03:59.550)

Stop counting. Yeah.

Todd (04:12.372)

got it.

Joel Klettke (04:25.071)

you know more like 2000 and from the beginning not that all these are current clients you know be pretty honest about that but we've served over 300 different you know 350 I think there's now different companies from small to multi-billion dollar to unicorns so you know how to front receipt to see how a lot of companies come at these challenges and we've had a chance to bump into a lot of things that can go wrong and and find a lot of things that can help help stuff go right

Todd (04:36.635)


Todd (04:40.150)

Thank you. Thank you.

Todd (04:49.650)

Yeah, obviously our audience is SaaS, so you've worked with some pretty big SaaS names as well. I think HubSpot is the company you've worked with, some other big name SaaS companies as well. And we're gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute. I'm gonna be back in a minute.

Joel Klettke (04:59.931)

Yeah, I mean, we've had the privilege to work with a lot of enterprise firms and a lot of companies that I think the SaaS community would be familiar with. I think what's interesting though is whether the companies are really big and well resourced or boots trapped and small, the problems are often the same. They just show up differently. It's not like having more money or a larger team always solves these things. There's always a need, I think, for underlying processes and shifts in mindset

Todd (05:19.657)


Joel Klettke (05:30.111)

at these but yeah we've had the privilege to work with HubSpot we've been able to do work with companies like Loom or CloudNexa or Lever extensive so you know kind of spanning you know running the gamut Veronis in the cybersecurity space for example so yeah we've had the chance to work with a lot of companies large and small and teams big and small but interestingly too it's almost always small teams within big companies you know it's always you know it's rarely you know we've got a team of

Todd (05:55.250)


Joel Klettke (06:00.071)

It's usually there's there's two scrappy people tasked with getting this done and I think that's pretty common regardless

Todd (06:04.492)


Joel Klettke (06:21.471)

I think number one, case studies are the ultimate differentiator. I think if you've been in SaaS for more than 10 minutes, you realize very quickly, there are competitors everywhere. They can take your features, they can take your UX, they can poach your people, they can copy your messaging, they can copy your design. There's few things in SaaS that cannot be quickly mimicked or copied, so to have customer success stories, those are unique to you. No one can take the results you've driven for customers, the accounts you've been able to secure and keep happy.

Joel Klettke (06:51.471)

That's one thing is it's a huge means of demonstrating the efficacy and value of your product to a market where there's a ton of competition, especially the more saturated it gets. I think in an economic climate like this where companies are trying to do more with less case studies, traditionally seen as just these bottom of the funnel end of journey assets, are actually these huge reservoirs of value where, yes, they might cost a little bit more to get done upfront, but the amount of ways you can repurpose and deploy them

Joel Klettke (07:21.891)

I mean everything from using them in ads and cold outreach. There's good research that shows using You know naming clients in your cold outreach and having good examples in your cold outreach I think hip monk did a study some years ago that showed it tripled the number of positive response rates In a market where people are trying to grow that's really important In ads, you know, you can deploy in remarketing. We've seen companies be very successful in bringing people back Through social proof through these stories bringing them back into stories that demonstrate the value

looking for. But even in things like nurturing and upsells, having stories about people who, for example, want premium or upgraded to another tier debated that, struggled with it, but ultimately, you know, received the value of doing that, driving more value and ROI from the clients you already have, stories can be enormously valuable there. Even into retention or winning back churn leads, being able to go back and re-spark these conversations, there's just so many different ways that these assets can be deployed once you have

them that bang for buck. There's so much utility there. So that I think that combination of them being unique to you, having all of this utility, being able to deploy them across so many different channels and in so many different environments can really create a load of opportunities. And I think the other side of it is, you know, there's this misconception that case studies are always just though it's here's another win problem solution results. But there are so many different types of stories that you can tell depending on the business and revenue goals you have.

We've seen clients like Dechebo tell stories about kind of these add-on or secondary uses for their product. These companies they acquired through mergers and acquisitions and these new features and new opportunities to make their existing clients aware of those and also drive new leads in those areas. We've seen companies tell switcher stories of how someone switched from a big competitor to them and benefited. We've seen disambiguation stories where you're explaining a very granular use case and demonstrate to a market, yes, we are for you.

So there's just so much utility in these stories and I think it's all of those things coming together to make them a very powerful sales asset, a very powerful marketing asset, and a very powerful repurposing collateral.

Todd (09:35.730)

Yeah. Do you find that it's not just in the creation of case studies that people find difficult and that's where you can help them, but actually the repurposing of them, like you said, squeezing as much as possible. Do you find that companies in general do a pretty bad job of that?

Joel Klettke (09:50.571)

they do a generally terrible job of it because almost no one has a plan for it. But I think to have some empathy, they can be so difficult to get in the first place and take so much energy to produce that you almost can't blame companies for by the time the thing you push publish on it, it's almost such a relief that it's like, oh, okay. They're almost fatigued by that point. You know, there was a study, you know, a bit of a survey, industry survey that went out this year that saw the average case study take something like 40 to 60 days, you know, two months.

Todd (09:52.510)


Joel Klettke (10:20.711)

a long time from start to finish. And that's because for as fast as you can move, you're relying on those other third party stakeholders, you're relying on legal teams, PR teams and so on and so forth. So I think companies generally do a poor job of this. Number one, because they're so focused on just getting the basic core asset in the first place, they don't really have time or the wherewithal to think of it. Number two, I think companies just don't have a plan. They don't realize all the utility available to them. I think, again, there's

Todd (10:20.714)


Joel Klettke (10:50.931)

misunderstanding that these are end of journey assets you give them to the sales team and you move on and I think companies just haven't Being exposed to or seen the myriad opportunities. I think in most cases it simply hasn't occurred to them I could use this in ads. I could embed this in blog post that I'm writing I could be taking the audio from interviews turning that into Audiograms using those on social or embedding them with the written piece I could be taking all of the stories, you know when we've done five stories and making a

deck or a carousel on LinkedIn, it just doesn't occur. They haven't been traditionally thought of in that way. And so it's not necessarily that it is difficult to do, though there's certainly strategy and considerations to be made. I think it's just one more thing. It's one more thing on the table of product marketers or marketing teams and it just isn't something that gets given that priority.

Todd (11:44.590)

Yeah, one of the things that we can unpack, you know, the strategy and we'll kind of get into that. But one of the things that really drew me to you was the, you had a LinkedIn post and you spoke about proactive storytelling versus reactive storytelling. And I can speak from my own experience here. I think what you're basically saying is in most cases, like it's the case with me, somebody says, we need a case study. A little take up on media as an example in agency. And you go, okay, great, we need a case study. And then you go speak to the account manager, you go speak to the sales person, whoever it is. And you say, well, maybe we could do this one. Maybe we could do this one.

Well, I think that person's left. And I'm actually not sure where the data is for those campaigns. And actually, I'm not really fully sure what the story was that was. So do you think that most people kind of try and reverse engineer case studies where your shtuk is basically saying, you need to be more proactive. So yeah, if you could speak on that. And so, I think that's it. I think that's it. I think that's it. I think that's it. I think that's it. I think that's it. I think that's it. I think that's it. I think that's it. I think that's it. I think that's it.

Joel Klettke (12:32.371)

Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, that's that is what I think when you really distill it down and you look at the most successful companies, why can some companies do 100 stories and other struggle to get one? Why can some companies some companies make time to do these things? Why do some companies have no issues with buying and other companies struggle tooth and nail? And it is that for most companies case studies are happy accidents. They are these reactive exercises as you're describing where someone puts up their hand, someone's how to win or

we need more case studies, shoves it to a team who has no processes, no systems, no plan. And the reality of case studies is that they're a team sport and most companies don't see them that way. They go marketing, go produce the case studies, do what you gotta do. Well marketing is inherently reliant on who else is closest to the customer, who owns the relationship, right? Is that sales? Is that an AE, a BDR, is that a CSM? Who is closest to the customer?

Where does that context actually live? Who is making the ask? How are they making the ask? What expectation are they setting? One of the revelations for companies when we talk to them is realizing that your struggles to get buy in an approval are because you have 10 different reps asking 10 different ways with no consistency, no plan they can take to the customer say here the steps will go through. We advocate for, hey, there is an opportunity here to engineer. Stop looking at case studies as an asset.

Todd (13:50.476)


Joel Klettke (14:02.411)

offshoot of your existing work and look at them as a program, look at them as the byproduct of underlying systems. And that's what we encourage companies to engineer. So, you know, think carefully about number one, start with a strategy, right? What stories are going to benefit your business revenue goals? What are the angles? What are the themes? What are the we call them coverage gaps, right? And those coverage gaps might change quarterly, they might change yearly. But look at, you know, what gaps in our content or what gaps

Todd (14:21.934)


Joel Klettke (14:32.451)

in sales, for example, like, you know, go talk to your sales teams, ask people, go ask them, like, what objections are you come up against? Who are we constantly being compared to? What roles are vetoing these deals? Those are all opportunities for stories that currently only live within sales's head. They're only within their purview. And then, you know, okay, now you want to standardize the way that you ask and standardize the expectations you set. If you want your CSM

Todd (14:48.764)


Joel Klettke (15:02.271)

involved in nominating clients and proactively identifying accounts rather than, ah, who can we go to? Well, I think they've left. They're near renewal. We don't want to bother them. Then you need to make them part of that discussion in an ongoing way. You should have an SOP where the types of stores you're going after are identified, the types of roles you're going after are identified, where there is shared criteria for identifying a win. So that marketing doesn't go to Sam's and say, I want to do this account and sales goes, oh, no, that account is going to be better.

Todd (15:15.994)


Joel Klettke (15:32.391)

in six months, come back in six months. There should be criteria for identifying, no, this does fit the criteria for a win right now and we should do it now. And that just gets people playing in the same direction. Having a plan for things like incentivizing CSMs or sales teams or having event-based triggers where, hey, every second week or once a month, we're going to have sale wins Wednesday where we get the marketing and sales teams together, share what's going on in the accounts. You need to have these ongoing kind of conversations,

Todd (15:47.750)


Joel Klettke (16:02.531)

shared information, this centralized kind of strategy that everyone is keyed into, everyone understands their roles and accountability within that system so that you can go from reacting and trying to discover the stories in reverse and discover candidates in reverse to proactive, knowing who you're going after, nominating best fits, capturing that story from the time someone signs up for your SaaS product all the way through to when they've had to win. I mean, there are good examples of this

Joel Klettke (16:32.371)

small ways. When you look at, for example, what FreshBooks has done during the onboarding process, they get you to identify the goals you have for being part of the platform. That might feel like soft marketing stuff, but it's not. By telling you what I'm trying to achieve, that opens the door to conversations on the KPIs I might be tracking, encouraging me to track those KPIs, celebrating when data shows up in my dashboard within the platform that shows Joel's actually

Todd (16:45.650)


Joel Klettke (17:02.271)

win or Joel is trending towards this type of win. I mean, SAS has a unique advantage in this regard in that they can put out dashboards, they can send out newsletters based on activity, they can identify within the platform when I am trending towards the goals that I identified on earlier. And so even doing something as simple as capturing their stated goals, their stated intent, their stated KPIs that they're going to measure success gets at the beginning,

Joel Klettke (17:32.271)

accountable for continuing to chase up that thread, that in and of itself makes getting buy in or identifying candidates that much simpler. So shifting from this place of, ah, and going backwards and having to rediscover it all to, we know who the client is. We're tracking their story. When they have a way, and it's just a matter of now, the context is there. It's just about now we can focus on really pampering them, capturing the depth of story in an interview, and telling that story in a strategic way versus this race to,

rediscover it all.

Todd (18:04.390)

Yeah, it's super interesting. In the past, I've really struggled to, getting client buy-in is really challenging. And in the past, I tried to get some video case studies. And I failed. I failed, I think, on three separate occasions. So one question is, how do you get client buy-in? But actually, more important, best kind of following on from your thread is, is it really important to get the client buy-in from the get-go? Is that kind of like a prerequisite? So you get that buy-in, follow the story and then they're already bought in and then the expectations have been set.

Joel Klettke (18:40.671)

Consider it this way for most clients today the way that they get asked is someone swings out of nowhere that they've never heard of You know a marketer that they've never engaged with Making an ask that sounds like there's nothing in it for them asking for an ambiguous amount of their time To what can be a kind of scary sounding ask? You know can we do a case study? That sounds very clinical almost like you're gonna wheel out the gurney and you know

Joel Klettke (19:10.491)

display and my strategy and all of that. And that's a big part of why buying is so difficult is because it comes out of nowhere from unfamiliar people in a lot of cases. And there's also in most companies as much as, you know, we'd like to believe that that it just happens organically in a lot of companies, there is not a culture of talking about KPIs and talking about metrics and talking about ROI with your clients. And whether you're a self-serve SaaS or hands-on

Joel Klettke (19:40.791)

There are plenty of opportunities to be talking about KPIs Celebrating wins asking about how people are tracking both one to one and asynchronous, but they just don't happen They or they don't happen consistently So I think there are some things to think about when we're when we're thinking about getting buy-in I think number one is this is the long game It's not gonna happen overnight But work to make talking about KPIs and ROI and metrics normal from the time I become a client

Joel Klettke (20:10.471)

that is during the onboarding, whether that is during a call with my rep, whether that is just ongoing feedback surveys where I have a chance to tell you how I'm trending or the results that I'm seeing look for ways to make that a scheduled and normal and comfortable thing. I think number two, especially for software, again, you have unique opportunities to this, but make KPIs obvious and available. One of the surprises to marketers is that their customers often don't know

what a win looks like. We assume our clients know when they're winning with our solution, but they don't always. They know that it's working for them, but they may not recognize a win when it's there. Some really great examples in the software space of companies doing this well. For example, Loom will send you a recap email every month that says, this is how many meetings you save. Now that's a trick that they engineered, where basically, hey, one five minute video equals one meeting or whatever, but it's a way of reminding me on going of the value that I'm receiving.

Todd (20:42.034)


Todd (21:04.314)


Joel Klettke (21:10.751)

so that I feel that I'm winning and I feel I have a good grasp on my own story. You know, so Loom's one example, Callan Lee is another, they've started rolling out kind of these reports on different productivity angles and measures, Grammarly's like the classic one in the space, hey you're better than 97% of people, or you wrote this many words or whatever. So making that regular and visible and tangible for people is valuable too. When we get to making the ask, I think the

worst thing you can do is blast off a boilerplate template you found somewhere without any personalization. I think when you're making the ask, you want to keep in mind that the reasons they will say no are fear, fear of what will be exposed, fear of how long this might take them, fear of how they will be presented, fear that something will go live without their consent, fear even of having to get approval internally. You have to counter all of those things going on in their head, as well as the notion of inconvenience,

Todd (22:06.734)


Joel Klettke (22:10.471)

time and the question of what's in it for me. So when you make your approach, the way to come at it, be personal, tell them why them, why their story, why are you coming to them and be specific also, what parts of their story are you hoping to highlight? If it's not the whole kit and caboodle, what is it about their story that you're hoping to share? And to do that, you have to have a sense of what their story might be. But by making it specific, you make it more tangible, you make it less scary. When you make the ask, consider

Joel Klettke (22:40.731)

would you be in a case study to can we feature you? Can we share your success? Can we put your company in the spotlight? All of that subtle change in wording goes from making something that's all about you and your success because of their success and more about them and what they've done and how they've innovated and how they've iterated. So consider your wording. Come with a plan. Be able to tell them this is from a high level what's involved. This is how long it will take you.

and be ready to have something to help them sell this internally. So we offer to our clients a pitch packet that basically it's short, high level, makes two promises that they will have control that it won't take much of their time, lays out the process, shares some samples of final products so they can see how other companies have done this, it's safe, here's how they were presented, I think we could be presented well. And then that benefit piece, right? If you have a good audience, you have a good social following, maybe it's about position, we'd love to take your story to

Todd (23:19.550)


Joel Klettke (23:40.531)

thousand people. If you plan to promote it heavily, you have control over the narrative and we plan to use this to support this campaign. If there is an actual monetary incentive or free months or whatever, those are options available to you as well. But cover that what's in it for me. And when it comes to video, because that's where this question originated, I'd love to say that there's some silver bullet to just make everyone comfortable on camera and just make everyone, yeah, sure.

Joel Klettke (24:11.011)

But the reality is, buying is the hardest thing for most every company we deal with. The companies either have, they have one or two problems. Either they struggle to get buying or they struggle to keep up. It's rarely anything in the middle. They either have so much buying that they can't keep up with production or they struggle to get buying in the first place. But when it comes to video especially, that is where showing them there's a plan, letting them know this is a conversation, not an interrogation, giving them some confidence in, you don't have to give them every question.

Todd (24:22.572)


Joel Klettke (24:40.691)

ask the types of things that they might want to speak to. That's where being very specific can be very powerful. And so, you know, the final thing to tie this all together is the idea of escalating commitment over time. If someone is willing to give you a G2 review, for example, they are probably more likely to get on a call with you if they're more likely to get on a call with you, then they might be more likely to do a case study with you. If they're more likely to do a case study with you, they might be more likely to do a video.

Joel Klettke (25:10.531)

and saying, can we have a whole crew on your location for three hours and all this and that, looking to build that incremental escalating commitment over time and bearing in mind that now remote interviews are also, you know, you can get pretty polished, pretty solid quality, it's never going to be the same as an on location crew. But I think the pandemic, if it did anything positive for anyone, made more people comfortable being on camera and more familiar with it. So, you know, hopefully there's some things in there to unpack, but having a plan, making it easy,

Todd (25:33.891)


Joel Klettke (25:40.511)

them control. Those are all parts of the recipe for getting stronger buying and then having the ask come from someone who is familiar or authoritative, someone they know, or someone too big to ignore. Like if the CEO of let's just take HubSpot, if Darmash or Brian come to me like we want to feature you, even if I'm a typically Stingy C-suite at another enterprise, I might I might move on that, right? So things to consider.

Todd (26:10.510)

Yeah, some incredible advice. I really wish I'd asked you this before I tried three times and failed with my case studies. Thank you. Cool, you guys published a really interesting piece. Obviously our audience is SAS. And I wanna make sure I get the name right. The state of SAS customer success stories in 2023. Obviously you can go and download that. So I'm expecting you to just regurgitate the whole thing. But there's some kind of key learnings that you can share from that study.

Joel Klettke (26:35.391)

Yeah, so as a backdrop, we looked at the, and next year we're gonna go for the, for a hundred or more, but we looked at the top 50 sort of software companies on the US Stock Exchange and looked at things like, how many stories do they have? What formats are those stories in? How long are those stories? How do they filter or present those stories on their sites? What are common filtering methods? What are uncommon? What elements of social proof do they have within these stories to kind of bolster them,

Joel Klettke (27:05.891)

make them believable. And there are some really interesting things that came out of sort of what we looked at. I think both the median and the mean number of stories are incredibly high. I think the median was like 90 and the mean was like 100. Like big companies have

Todd (27:22.550)

I was blown away by that. That's a huge number of case study though. I was very surprised by that. ..

Joel Klettke (27:28.652)

It's a tremendous amount of stories. And I think the takeaway though is not, okay, I'm a mid-sized company with 100 total clients, I need a case study from each one. I think the real thing to take away from that practically tangibly is ask yourself the question, why? Why do they have more than one? What is it possibly doing for them to have so much proof? And I think the answer lies in what we talked about earlier, which is they're intentional.

intentional or more intentional than most anyways about the types of stories they tell. For example hub spots on that list Um And if you look at their stories, you will find switcher stories You will find stories geared towards a certain number of like sales seats You will find stories geared towards certain features or certain platforms They have done a brilliant job of recognizing that not all stories appeal to all people It's not just the biggest logos the hugest wins it's about

If I'm at a consideration point or if I'm evaluating if something is right for me, even the free product, they've got stories to arm their sales team and also assist leads in discovering information on their own. That is why you see in a lot of cases these large libraries, yes, they have the benefit of these large customer bases, but typically these companies are a little more intentional about the types of stories that they tell. There are other things. We looked at how many companies have written.

stories, video stories, or both. I don't want to misspeak because it's been a little bit since I peeked at the actual metric, but there's still a long way to go for companies combining video and written. At best, I think it was like 50%. And that's not, you know, the lesson is not, oh, we need a video for every story all the time. But I think the bar continues to come down even in terms of the barrier to entry to getting video. The tools we have

Joel Klettke (29:25.971)

to us now are better than they've ever been. And you will see that brands who traditionally only invested in these really high production on location, quite expensive shoots, they still do for great stories, for flagship pieces, but you are starting to see brands be a little bit more open and receptive to the idea of remote video. And turning these remote videos into something that is polished and fun to watch, not just, you know, two minutes of talking

But they're bringing in B-roll they're bringing in music they're bringing in all these other elements that make these compelling to watch I thought that was interesting one of the things that genuinely surprised me. I think it was less than 50% even had a headshot in the stories to me that is like the most basic Kind of human proof you can have in a story. It's one of the easiest things to get It's one of the easiest things to deploy and so to not even have that to me shows that again for all the

Todd (30:11.150)


Joel Klettke (30:25.971)

still wiffing on some of the basics like making these very human stories, making them very customer centric, putting the customer at the heart of the story. Something as simple as a headshot goes a long way to helping us recognize this is a real person in a real story sharing real information that I will benefit from. But there's a lot in that report to Glean. Again, I talked about filtering. We highlighted some of the common filters, some of the unique ones and different ways of presenting your stories to help people

navigate to those that resonate best with them. There's a lot of look at how long or short different pieces can be in terms of the onsite versions. So lots of takeaways. So you don't have to be an enterprise-sized company to benefit from that. There's takeaways for companies large and small and I would argue that some of these scrappy, smaller, more agile companies actually can have an advantage. One of the coolest stories or stories, types that I've seen, there's a company called Mutiny.

Joel Klettke (31:26.531)

They've got these incredible playbooks and they are beating what what big big companies are doing in terms of believability Depth they're very prescriptive. They're very compelling. They're gorgeously designed And so, you know, there are huge takeaways for companies of all sizes from what these big companies are doing That you can then build on it and I believe actually build better programs or better assets because you're not encumbered by So much baggage to drag along with you

Todd (31:55.510)

Yeah, thank you. You said something really interesting. You said they make the customer, the hero of the story. Maybe you can just expand on that because that seems like a really important point.

Joel Klettke (32:06.871)

Yeah, I think for too many companies, they see case studies as purely promotional assets. Like here's a chance to show how we wrote in and saved the day and helped these hapless idiots do better. And even though that might not be the spoken tone of it, that's often what comes across is it's all about us and it's all about what we did and all about our product. And that is another reason stories get vetoed or don't go live all the time is the tone with which you speak about your customers and their challenges

Joel Klettke (32:37.111)

to whether or not they're going to be receptive to see that go live, you can cause a lot of harm by coming at that the wrong way, but I think there's a tremendous opportunity, you know, a collection of bullet points and nice sounding quotes is not a story. It's not a case study, it's not a customer success story. When you tell these stories, they're not you success stories, they're customer success stories. And even when we're selling into enterprise, even when we're selling into B2B, even when we are dealing with buying boards,

individual people with individual concerns and individual kind of proof points they respond to and So by putting your customer at the heart of the story making their quotes the driver of the narrative their Experience of your solution the driver of the piece versus this feature this feature this feature metric metric metric Now you've got something that someone can relate to so for example if I'm a CTO I Care about wildly different things than a CMO number one So your your CMO oriented case studies

I couldn't care less. If I see stories featuring people like me with challenges I have, talking on the level I'm at, that resonates for me. If I'm a CTO and I see someone talking about compliance and implementation and what that looked like and how they made sure that this would go smoothly and getting into the tech specs. And if I see someone reputable in a role like mine who made the decision that I'm debating and didn't get fired for it, in fact, got celebrated

they're looking for. That's the core of the story. Similarly for any role. So, you know, we firmly believe even anonymous stories, even anonymous stories, we don't write without the customer's involvement, even anonymous stories for us are driven by the customer's quotes. And we do that because we believe so firmly that it is their experience that sells a prospect. It is not just the big metric, it is not your retelling of events. It is

participation in that story. And that is why these assets are tough to do. That is why it will always be easier to just write it yourself and plunk it down and forgiveness not permission or what have you. But your impact will never be as deep, as powerful. You will never be as effective trying to tell that story yourself as you will when you do it in collaboration with your customers.

Todd (35:00.350)

Yeah, thank you. What is like just to kind of build on that? What is the like the the anatomy of a kind of a perfect case study? And I think you mentioned it previously, you said, you know, the problem, you know, the solution and the results, but like, do you guys have some kind of structure you stick to? Yeah.

Joel Klettke (35:21.351)

Yeah, I think it depends on the channel in the format number one. Um, you know, I think we have to bear in mind that like a 1500 word deep dive piece is fantastic in some environments and horrible in others. There are times where for sales, for example, in cold outreach, like a quick one sheet, high level or a 30 second clip will actually punch much harder than a huge deep dive expose on everything you did. So I think number one, even if the arc is similar,

Todd (35:33.211)

Yeah, yeah.

Joel Klettke (35:51.391)

the presentation, the format, the depth, the things you prioritize, those should be determined by the channel and the audience's expectation of that channel and their awareness in that channel. When it comes to storytelling, I think, you know, there are a handful of things that always need to be there. There's always the hook. And that that is where typically the metrics or the big results or the big outcome come in, you don't have to have metrics and tell an incredible story. But but there's always the hook, what is going to get someone reading and interested in digging into the story?

When you get into the story that challenge section, I mean there's no story if there was no challenge There has to be something they wanted to achieve or somewhere they wanted to go or something You know they wanted to overcome When you write that challenge though hand-in-hand with that is and this is something you have to do carefully But setting the stakes when we watch a movie for example If it's a superhero movie, but there's no threatening, you know end of the world It's just like you know spider-man helps a little old lady cross the street

on an abandoned highway, there's no actual risk. Like that's not a great movie. So it's important to establish tension and stakes and that human element and even the emotions within that human element. Why was that so challenging? Why was that so frustrating? Why was that so worrying? What was it about that situation that made them wisely realize they needed to act and look in a different direction? That is kind of that immediate stress plunging them into the story, humanizing it

establishing stakes so that we care about the rest of the story that's coming. When you get into the solution section, everyone wants to talk about the how and that's good. That's fine. The how is the features in case, you know, in the case of SaaS, the how is, you know, maybe how you rolled out and implemented for them. That's all fine. But equally important is the why. Why those things? Why did that make sense? Why was that right for this situation? If there is a strategic component to what you do, why this and not that?

It is very compelling, right? Why this plan, not that plan. Why these features, not those features. Why, you know, do this and not that. So establishing both the how and the why in that solution section is tremendously valuable. And then when we get into the results section, again, everybody wants to have big sex, sexy metric, big sex metric. And again, that's fine. That can be part of why people read a story, but it's often not what resonates most. It's what those metrics meant.

what they made possible for that company. Okay, so you help someone cut their, cut their inefficiencies by 50%. That's wonderful. What did that make possible for them, for their boss, for their department, for the company? What can they do now or do better because of that metric? That is often the real motivation behind why people buy. That is often what they wanna see. A classic example of this in a story we told,

Joel Klettke (38:51.311)

basically a payroll platform, not a sexy platform, not a sexy niche or industry, but the thing that punched hardest in that piece, we led by saying, for frontline staff, they cut their admin time by 60% or something, which okay, great, that's a good outcome. But the most powerful part of that story was the frontline person saying, I no longer have to go office to office handing out paychecks, it all happens automatically, and my team has never been happier,

Joel Klettke (39:22.331)

And for someone sitting in a front-line seat, they go, that's me. I'm going office to office handing out paychecks. People are annoyed when they're wrong. People are annoyed they have to wait for them. That is 60% increase in efficiency embodied and made real. So those are all pieces of the, you know, the anatomy of storytelling. Are there other pieces that we bring in? I think when we have longer pieces, you have things like sidebars and subheads, things to help make them scannable, things to help make them more digestible. When you look at some pieces,

pieces you might have lead-ins like what you'll learn. So you might have a section at the beginning of the piece like what you're going to learn, especially if it's a more prescriptive study, that's all part of the hook. But those are the core elements of storytelling and then having that hero, right? And the other thing that I will say is not an element for success that is a common pitfall is you get a win and you wanna throw every possible good thing that happened into that story. They had more efficiency, they got more traffic, this person got a promotion.

and sink it. Well, those are all good things, but again, it's a collection of nice quotes and nice metrics. It's not a story. It's so unfocused as to be meaningless because it's like, look at all the good things that happen for this company versus like, Hey, you with this challenge or this goal or this outcome you're looking for, this is for you. When it's for everybody, it's for nobody. So having a clear focus and narrowing the focus of the story, which can be hard to do.

Joel Klettke (40:51.271)

got your bull as well.

Todd (40:53.310)

Yeah, well, I can definitely tell your conversion copywriting skills have definitely come into play when it comes to creating case study, buddy. For sure. I'm hearing a lot of the same elements that I would hear from a conversion copywriter. So, I have interest. You mentioned studies a few times. Have you ever, these days, I've actually never used these myself, like sales presentation, tracking software, for example. You say you can see where people click around in your proposals. Have you ever had any software that tracks elements of cases?

There's only studies on that to show that case studies are indeed when it comes to proposals. They're an area that people focus.

Joel Klettke (41:31.531)

Yeah, I mean, I would love to. It's something that has been on my mind to do, but it's difficult. I mean, DocSend did a study that looked at completion rates of case studies when they were sent through that platform. And they found at that time, they were completed at an outsized rate more than any other asset sent on DocSend. The completion rate of case studies up to five pages was dramatic, 84% or something higher than anything else.

Todd (41:34.931)


Todd (42:00.814)


Joel Klettke (42:02.411)

So there's things like that. I think looking at though, and this opens up the broader question of measuring the impact of case studies. How do you prove the value? How do you prove they're working? And this comes up a lot. And I think number one, I don't know if it's actually Einstein. I think things get misattributed all the time. But the whole idea of like if you measure a fish's talent or ability by its ability to climb a tree, you'll think it's like the dumbest animal ever. If you look at a case study purely in terms of one to one conversions, you're going to

Todd (42:10.534)


Joel Klettke (42:31.531)

not worth it and we should not do it. So how do you measure the success? Well, depends on the environment you're deploying in, but for example, some examples of things we've seen attributed conversions or assisted conversions. So a company's running HubSpot, for example, can see and when they're set up all they can pull, okay, across the journey, where did case studies make a difference? Where were they an entry point? Where are they a reference point? Where did they proceed a sales conversation? That can be one way of getting a beat on it.

Todd (42:52.714)


Joel Klettke (43:01.591)

I can't take credit for but I heard the other day that I think a smart is getting sales to kind of set a barometer before and after having these stories that you give them. So how confident are you that you're going to close deals in this environment? And they might say 60% or 50% to whatever. Coming back to them, you know, two, three months once they've had these stories in hand, when you use these stories, how confident are you? Is it now 70% 80% that gives you some means of making an intangible tangible and putting some value.

you on case studies as part of that sales cycle. I think when you're deploying them in places like ads or remarketing, you can compare them to other ads and remarketing that you're running benchmark against the other campaigns you're doing. How do they perform? Do they perform? Do they get more clicks? Do they get more revisits in the case of remarketing or if it's just purely ads, again, how do they perform relative to the other ad types and ad classes that you're running? Are they beaning them as a benchmark? Are they on par as a benchmark?

Joel Klettke (44:02.131)

is it the same when we look at things like deploying and cold outreach again, close rates from cold, open rates, click-through rates, all of those give you some indication of how are these contributing to these different conversations going on. So I would love to have you know a more scientific study that breaks down the individual elements and components and weights them in terms of effectiveness within a story.

Joel Klettke (44:31.471)

right now doesn't exist because for that to be an effective test, you'd have to be driving thousands of potential click-throughs or conversion steps, statistical significance on an individual case study. That's just typically not the way people buy. They'll look at a handful of these things. They'll look at other assets. It's part of consideration. So while there's still lots of opportunity to research and lots of things, I think we still have yet to learn, there are ways of measuring how they contribute in marketing and sales environments.

Joel Klettke (45:33.193)


Joel Klettke (45:46.051)

Yeah, so I mean previously, you know, copyright are almost stopped being the right word for it by the end because I was doing more of a consultative, you know, end to end. I would come in and do audits and messaging and positioning and then writing the new variants. And I really loved that work. Because there was such an investigative element to it. I loved having a mystery to solve. And that's how I viewed it is when things are not converting, there has to be a reason and there has to be an answer. And what could it be?

Todd (46:12.992)


Joel Klettke (46:16.231)

and so that journey. I think when you work for yourself, you're also very used to having unequivocal control over how everything happens and how quickly you can move and how things get positioned. And there's a certain freedom to that that I think some people are better suited for. I think one of the reasons I launched Case Study Buddy because I wanted to go on an adventure to discover what it would look like for me to build a team and try to build

Todd (46:33.814)


Joel Klettke (46:46.031)

I knew it would expose me to new situations and new challenges. I knew going in, it would take me out of the hands on work and into being more of a people manager and more of that traditional founder, founder, co-founder type of role where you're now trying to grow a business and make difficult decisions around things like whether it's pricing or product and so on and so forth. I'd say it's been, you know, I'd be lying to say it hasn't been some of the most

Joel Klettke (47:17.031)

years of my life and some of the more difficult, you know, I've learned a great deal. There have been, you know, the highs are really high and there are new, more rewarding highs. There's nothing quite like seeing someone get hired and really work out. There's nothing quite like seeing someone you hire do something in a way that is better than you would have thought to do it. That is enormously rewarding. You know, there's also kind of for me, you know, there was the natural grappling with letting go.

Todd (47:18.252)

for sure.

Joel Klettke (47:46.091)

go of certain part of the business and letting people run with it and not being in exactly yet not not being in the work not having the final say you have to build up a lot of you have to be willing to put a lot of trust in your people to do their best and do their work and it's rewarding when that comes through. So I think you know they're they're different at times bigger feeling problems. I think it's easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself when you have people depending on you.

Todd (47:49.191)

I'm still grappling with that now, but yeah, it's tough.

Joel Klettke (48:16.011)

to you for leadership. I think the cliche of entrepreneurship being a lonely job is true, even when you have a partner. I think that there are things that you just you can't talk about with your team or you you you need a different avenue or outlet to take them to. So it's been rewarding. It's been difficult. It's been educational. You know, it's it's been an adventure and I don't think I would trade the experience that I've gained.

Todd (48:39.371)


Joel Klettke (48:47.732)

in taking it on. There's also, I think, it doesn't get talked about enough, but when you move from being a solo individual, and for me, not in an arrogant way, but somewhat fairly visible in the space, I mean, I had done work for known names that I'd been able to speak at large events and things like that, very privileged to do so. There's always kind of a bit of a mourning or a worrying about will that go away when I'm no longer in that space,

Todd (49:14.434)


Joel Klettke (49:16.051)

longer the person, you know, the guy. But there's a freedom in letting some of that go and you ultimately find your connections don't evaporate, your credibility doesn't just disappear. For me anyways, you wind up being okay. So yeah, it's like say hi-highs, low-lows, lots of learning and if nothing else, I think, you know, just, you know, a joy to see others on your team succeed and to be put in an environment where you need

Todd (49:30.450)

Thank you. Bye.

Joel Klettke (49:46.051)

collaboration skills, your leadership skills, your management skills, and make different types of decisions you wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. So yeah, it's it's been a lot.

Todd (49:55.250)

Yeah, I mean, I've seen it resonate a lot with that. I think one of the most beautiful things of being an entrepreneur, starting your business, is when things get done to a higher standard than you can do yourself and you have zero involvement. Like, oh, we did this thing. And it's like, holy shit. Wow, you did this whole, like, and you had, I know, to, like you said, to build something bigger than yourself and to build something that in of itself can grow. And I guess the goal for me is to have something that can grow completely without me. But that's definitely a journey.

And letting go is definitely very challenging, especially when you're very good at what you do Joel. I'm sure if someone's going to write a case and do a project, you're probably the most qualified person to do that. But yeah, you've got to sit back, let go and let your team fly. So it seems like you've done a great job.

Joel Klettke (50:45.771)

Yeah, I mean, it's like I say, it's it's been there've been great days. They've been tough days. But when I look at, you know, at the end of the day, when I look at the things that we've accomplished together and when I look at the work, I mean, we do interviews and stories now that I don't hear about till later. And it's like, Oh, we interviewed PayPal. I had no idea. Like, that's great. You know, it's, uh, you know, yeah, I mean, there's, there's, um, you know, some of my joys over the past month. I've been seeing.

Todd (51:04.990)

Wow. Exactly, exactly that. That's beautiful.

Joel Klettke (51:15.471)

you know our our lead writer and take on the helm of like our own stories getting our own stories on our site and The way that she has Solved issues and blocked and tackled and come up with ideas and just Both the relief of not having to do that myself and then the joy of watching someone else, you know Like you say produced to a higher standard than you would I think is It's huge. So, you know, it's it's not for everybody, but I think it's you know you have to be

the right kind of person, I think, to build a company bigger than yourself. Because there's so much change and so much that's different about it, but it certainly can be rewarding in different ways than working for yourself.

Joel Klettke (52:05.071)

Yeah, if you like the stuff that I've been sharing and you want to, you know, whether you're looking to hire for case studies or not, we share a lot of information on our blog about tactical, how to come at this, things to consider. We know who we're a great fit for, we know who we're not, and we also just believe in if you give and if you share and if you help others tell better stories, the standard just gets better for everybody. So has a great blog and a lot of great pieces by Holly and Lori and

And Sam and the team there that you can check out, you can follow me on Twitter at JoelClutkey. It's not all work stuff there, but the odd time I'll share new studies we've done or pieces where like the SAS report or what have you or just musings in general on conversion copywriting or copywriting or case studies or that sort of thing. And then LinkedIn is why I try to, anything I post there, I try to make very prescriptive, very either informative or get you to look at things

different way or you know I try to steer clear of the fluff pieces and the crying CEO photos and all that stuff so you know that's a channel where actually is more stream of consciousness and some of the stuff that I'm learning and the ways that we are you know adapting that's a good place to key into it there so LinkedIn, Twitter and I think the case study body blogger all all good places to keep

Todd (53:29.090)

And I can definitely vouch for obviously research for this episode and you guys do have a bunch of great content so yeah, go check it out. Right, thanks Joel. Thanks for sticking to you and yeah, speak soon.

Joel Klettke (53:35.854)


Joel Klettke (53:38.432)

Yeah, take care.