Case Studies/Content Marketing

Great Content Idea: Case Studies Help Customers See Your (& My) Success

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Great Content Idea: Case Studies Help Customers See Your (& My) Success

Skyrocket your sales with Case Studies


Telling a story about how you solved someone’s problem is a powerful way to show potential customers what it is like to do business with you.

Telling a story is a much better way to capture someone’s attention than a product sheet, a features list or short testimonial.

These stories, often called case studies or customer success stories, allow prospects to imagine that they would enjoy similar results should they decide to be your customer.

Actual results and direct quotes demonstrate just how much the customer benefited by working with you.


I love writing case studies, and have written many for and other clients this year.

But creating them to highlight my own work is a bit problematic because many of my customers  can’t share actual results due to confidentiality reasons.


How MicroVentures Landed 1,000 Investors in Just 4 Months

That’s why I enjoyed writing the case study on MicroVentures for RainToday.

Not only did Bill Clark enjoy some great success, but I helped create some of it by helping with his press releases, tips on writing a successful HARO pitch, and writing some of his guest blog posts.


The case study followed the conventional four-part formula:

  • Describe the customer and provide some background about them to set the scene.
  • Show the problems or challenges they faced.
  • Discuss the solution you provided.
  • Summarize the results your customer achieved with your help.

 In MicroVenture’s case, Clark needed to prove the concept, and to do that, he needed a critical mass of investors.

He couldn’t advertise and was hamstrung by securities regulations that restricted his promotional activities for the first year in business.


His plan was four-fold: 

  • Create a Blog to help potential investors why his crowdfunding plan was different
  • Use Press Releases to Gain Media Attention and thus, third party endorsements
  • Pitch ideas to the Media and follow HARO
  • Write sponsored guest posts

The Results?  

A single Venture Beat sponsored post drove 700 to 1,000 unique visitors to the MicroVentures website the day it posted, Clark says. He typically gained between 50 to 100 investors from the sponsored post traffic.

The combination of press releases, sponsored guest posts, and pitching the media helped Clark land nearly 600 investors in just four months, bringing MicroVentures’ total investors to 1,000 in less than one year.

That critical mass of investors validated MicroVentures’ two-fold concept, which is to help companies raise money quickly by pooling the resources of many investors, and to give new investors access to opportunities they may not otherwise see and allow them to invest smaller sums.

You can read the full case – just email me or sign up through RainToday’s free trial on the MicroVentures case study here.

I am always looking for new case study subjects for RainToday. Email me and I’ll send you a list of what the requirements are. Or better yet, I’ll create a post about it.

 Have you used case studies on your website? What response have you seen by using case studies to help nurture prospects?

 Photo: ©M. Sharon Baker






Content/Content Marketing/Journalism/Marketing

Why you should hire a Corporate Storyteller or Reporter, not a “Brand Journalist”

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Why you should hire a Corporate Storyteller or Reporter, not a “Brand Journalist”

David Meerman Scott first started talking about brand journalism back in 2009.

He urged companies to hire what he calls a “brand journalist” to help companies tell their stories and help them become content publishers. 

Last month, Scott again urged marketers or companies who struggle to write great content to hire journalists to do what he calls “brand journalism.”


I love Scott’s idea, but dislike his phrase “brand journalism.”  I’m not alone.


When it was introduced, Scott’s concept touched off a flurry of debate from journalists claiming that no internal employee would ever be about to investigate their employer and write about them objectively.

Journalists worried Scott was advocating writing “advertorials,” a concept created by advertising departments to sell ad space filled with corporate product-based copy thinly disguised as editorial content.


Those attacking the concept missed the point of Scott’s idea, partly because he uses the word “journalism” which is misleading and inappropriate.


Ditch “Brand Journalism”

I’d like to propose that Scott ditch the term “Brand Journalism” and adopt a phrase more appropriate, such as “Corporate Storytelling,” which could be performed by “Corporate Reporters” or “Corporate Storytellers.” Or perhaps he could use Corporate Content Development, Branded Content, or even Custom Content Production.

I’ll admit those names aren’t as sexy. But they are less emotionally charged, not misleading and are more appropriate.

 Here’s why:

Journalists abide by a code of ethics that demands objectivity, independence, and accountability solely for the public good.


Coupling the word “journalist” with “corporate” or “brand” is an oxymoron, and an affront to practicing journalists, as Scott has learned. (And most likely enjoyed the controversy and traffic it has produced.)

I agree what journalists can do is of great benefit for marketers and companies adding content development to their marketing toolkits.

Journalists are great storytellers, fountains of ideas, and bring outside perspective and objectivity that is different than that of a customers or competitor.

They have a different mindset that starts with the audience – or for companies, that of your customers.

They write tight, have a nose for what’s newsworthy, and understand how to write for readers. They know how to turn jargon and convoluted concepts into clear prose, and relish the challenge of rendering simplicity from the complex.

Journalists know how to write quickly, how to meet deadlines and how to juggle multiple tasks and projects. When they write, they include context – why something matters, and they write about people, not products.

It’s not Journalism

Several companies are already benefitting from hiring corporate reporters, including Eloqua, which hired Jesse Noyes, who formerly worked for the Boston Herald and Boston Business Journal; and Bob Evans, formerly of InfoWorld and now communications strategist at SAP.

Other corporate reporters or storytellers include Xilinx’s Mike Santarini, Cadence Design Systems’ Richard Goering, and more recently,  Metro’s Nick Christensen, a reporter who now reports for Portland, Oregon’s regional government instead of reporting on it.

But these folks aren’t practicing journalism, they aren’t journalists, and all three would be the first to say so. They are corporate storytellers, and corporate reporters creating content that provides insight, analysis and expertise for their audiences.


Hey David, would you consider changing your sexy term to something more appropriate? Readers, what do you think?

Content/Content Marketing/How To/Websites

Dipity Time Line on Tom Douglas Restaurants

Posted by M. Sharon Baker
Dipity Time Line on Tom Douglas Restaurants

One of Tom Douglas' new restaurants is the Dahlia Workshop Biscuit Bar where fresh pastries are made from scratch every day.

I just finished making my Dipity time line of Tom Douglas Restaurants, which I mentioned I was doing in my post about great content ideas that don’t include lots of writing. I used Dipity, which was quite easy to use.

You can take a look at the time line here . Ditpity is working with WordPress to allow users to embed the time line on blogs, but they haven’t reached an agreement – yet.

One of Tom Douglas' new restaurants is the Dahlia Workshop Biscuit Bar where fresh pastries are made from scratch every day.

Dipity has a free and premium version. I used the free version, which has lots of social media tags and allows you to link videos and to map your locations. 

I would like to suggest they add an option allowing you to aggregated all the data points on one map, which in my example shows you how close all the restaurants are to each other.

If you have lots of dates, you might want to write out descriptions and choose photos ahead of time

I didn’t, and because I don’t work for TDR, I didn’t have access to photos that would be most appropriate.

So I grabbed some stock photos from my own site and used royalty free photos to fill out my timeline.

I like the way Dipity gives you several options to view the time line, adding flipbooks and mapping, which I think were great additions.

What do you like about Dipity and the time line I created? Do you have items on your site that might make a great time line?