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It's All About Engaging Authors: Jim Kaskade, PR.com Newswire

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Dare to Give a Case Study Customer a Deadline?

What’s the biggest unknown in any case study or success story project?

The customer’s review and approval time.

As we’ve said, customers can turn a story around in a day or take months.

You have to find a middle ground of being persistent but stopping short of pesky.

Some people simply need specific targets. Or, to put it more bluntly, a deadline.

Typically, I don’t give customers a deadline right out of the gate, when they first receive the story for review. I tell them that I’ll check back with them later in the week or early next week – usually giving them 3-4 days.

The only exception to this is when there’s a specific need driving a very fast turnaround – such as a PR opportunity or event. In that case, it’s best to communicate about the tight approval cycle before the project even begins, and get the customer’s commitment that the dates are doable.

But for typical projects, I reserve deadlines for those that are lingering a little.

A recent project reminded me that some people really respond best (and only?) to deadlines. When the project lingered, we let the customer know that the company needed the case study for some specific upcoming opportunities.

In turn, the customer responded with edits and moved the story to the next step.

It doesn’t always work so well, but for certain types of people, it’s the right motivator.

Of course, whatever deadline policies you adopt in regards to customer approval, always be flexible and aware of what’s going on with the customer. Are they traveling, out sick, stressed with other work?

Adjust and work with the customer as needed – keep their experience as pleasant as you can.

Maybe offer to work directly with the customer’s legal or PR team for final approval so your contact doesn’t have to project manage.

So what’s your deadline protocol when it comes to customer approvals, and what works best?

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More Stories By Casey Hibbard

Casey Hibbard is the founder and president of Compelling Cases, Inc. and author of "Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset." She has helped dozens of companies create and manage nearly 500 customer case studies and success stories over the past decade. Casey is featured in numerous books, articles, and teleclasses. She consults with organizations one-on-one and conducts online customer-story classes.