Joel Kletkke, Founder of Case Study Buddy, shares how he creates snackable customer success stories that sell.
One of the most powerful content your marketing team can create are customer success stories.
The problem? Most of them suck!
Joel Kletkke, founder of Case Study Buddy, has seen them all, even the bad ones:
"The number one thing that frustrates me to see is stories where the customer was clearly not involved at all. There's no quotes, there's no headshot, there's no nothing. That's not a customer success story because the customer is absent from it. There's no validity to it."
The solution: Joel suggests you create bite-sized, snackable customer success stories to turn more prospects on the fence to become paying customers.
In this Marketing Powerups episode, you’ll learn:
- Common mistakes with success stories.
- The elements of the perfect success story.
- Joel’s bite-sized, snackable case study strategy.
- How community has helped accelerate Joel’s career.
When you're in scale-up mode, and you have KPIs to hit, the pressure is on to deliver demos and signups.
And it's a lot to handle: demand gen, email sequences, revenue ops, and more! That’s where 42/Agency, founded by my friend Kamil Rextin, can help you.
They’re a strategic partner that’s helped B2B SaaS companies like ProfitWell, Teamwork, Sprout Social and Hubdoc build a predictable revenue engine.
If you’re looking for performance experts and creatives to solve your marketing problems at a fraction of the cost of in-house, look no further.
Go to https://www.42agency.com/ to talk to a strategist to learn how you can build a high-efficiency revenue engine now.
⭐️ The Snackable Customer Success Story Framework
Customer success stories are integral to a company's growth narrative. Yet, their creation process involves more than just scripting success. Joel Kletkke, an expert in creating compelling narratives, shares his insightful process on how to create snackable customer success stories.
Step 1: Gather context for the customer success story. 🔎
A powerful customer success story begins with setting clear expectations and gathering context. Preparing a comprehensive brief, armed with as much context as available, forms the backbone of the story.
"We don't want to get on a call with a client until we have as much context, reasonably as is available for their story. What does a win look like? What KPIs should we be looking at? What coverage gap does this story fit in? Nobody should take the same ten questions, go to every customer you have, and hope you get these wonderful, incredible stories."
Step 2: Get multiple perspective of the story. 📚
The power of a story increases manifold when it's told from different perspectives. Rather than packing all the perspectives in one story, creating separate narratives for different roles could make the stories more appealing.
For B2B companies with multiple stakeholders in the buying process, making sure you get multiple perspective is critical because the concerns of a CTO might be different from a CMO of CTO.
"If you have the ability to talk to multiple points of contact who are familiar with the story, you don't have to wedge them all into one piece. You can turn that into different pieces of collateral with different emphasis on different aspects of the relationship that help in increasingly more complex B2B buying decisions."
Step 3: Add tension and stakes. 🥊
The most compelling stories revolve around building tension and increasing the stakes. The success story should go beyond just a metric; it should encapsulate the impact it had on the individuals involved and the changes it brought to their world.
"Great customer success stories should have some element of tension and stakes in the story. There has to be some consequence for getting it wrong if no action was taken, something negative looming in the background that needed to be attended to."
Step 4: Tie everything together with a narrative. 🎀
An effective customer success story must have a narrative that takes the audience on a journey—a clear before, during, and after trajectory that amplifies the impact of the solution.
"There has to be a clear narrative, a clear thread to pull, because a collection of nice quotes and bullet points is not a customer success stories. It's not a story at all. It's accolades, it's details."
Step 5: Repurpose the content. 🔪
Most businesses make the mistake of narrating their customer success stories once and moving on. They forget to repurpose and maximize their impact across various channels.
"The biggest mistakes with case studies I see is that companies don't do anything with it, they don't repurpose it, they don't take it to different channels, they don't leverage it. They just kind of put it in a resources section or an index of content and hope that it's passively going to solve all of their problems. And that is such a missed opportunity."
It's essential to cater to your audience's appetite for information. Kletkke proposes a framework - "nibble, bite, snack, meal", which reflects the readiness of leads, prospects, and clients to absorb the content. By creating content at varying depths, you meet your audience where they are and satisfy their current level of need.
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🎉 About Joel Kletkke
Joel Ketlkke is the Founder of Case Study Buddy, a specialized team completely focused on helping B2B companies capture, share, and cash in on customer success stories across multiple marketing channels and media. Clients like Docebo, Varonis, and agencies of all sizes trust Case Study Buddy to deliver a polished, professional experience and assets that drive real ROI.
🕰️ Timestamps and transcript
- [00:00:00] Transforming Customer Success Stories into Marketable Content
- [00:01:13] The Importance of Case Studies in Marketing Strategy
- [00:07:52] Common Mistakes in Crafting Customer Success Stories
- [00:11:06] Maximising the potential of case studies with repurposing and strategic storytelling
- [00:16:44] The Power of Perspective in Case Studies
- [00:17:58] 42 Agency: My Number One Recommended Demand Gen Agency
- [00:18:43] Ahref's Free Webmaster Tools
- [00:19:29] Understanding the Ingredients of a Great Customer Success Story with Joel Kletkke
- [00:24:53] The Role and Benefits of Success Stories in Companies
- [00:29:21] The Process of Crafting Detailed Case Studies with Joel Kletkke
- [00:33:29] Discussion on Successful Customer Stories Creation
- [00:36:32] A conversation with Joel Kletkke about the impact of storytelling in Case Study Buddy
- [00:39:12] Building Meaningful Relationships: Joel Kletkke's Power Up
- [00:43:55] Joel Kletkke's Advice to Younger Self: Be Vulnerable, Ask for Help
- [00:46:11] Influencer Noise and Authentic Connections in Digital Marketing
[00:00:00] Ramli John: Customer success stories are one of the most powerful content that your marketing team can create. The problem is that most of them suck.
[00:00:06] Joel Kletkke: The number one thing that frustrates me to see is stories where the customer was clearly not involved at all. There's no quotes, there's no headshot, there's no nothing. It's just, you know, here's a bunch of stuff we did well. That's not a customer success story because the customer is absent from it. There's no validity to it. You're cutting yourself off at the knees when you produce that way because you're missing that rich other half of the conversation, which is the experience of working with you, of achieving those results.
[00:00:36] Ramli John: The solution, Joe, will suggest that you create bite sized snackable customer success stories to turn more prospects on the fence to paying customers. In this Marketing Powerups episode, you learn, first, common mistakes that customer stories have. Second, elements of the perfect customer success story. Third, Joel's bite sized case study strategy. And number four, how community has helped accelerate Joel's career. Now, before we get started, upgrade a free Power Up cheat sheet that you can download, fill in, and apply Joel's bite size customer success strategy. You can find that Marketing Powerups.com or find that link in the show notes and description.
[00:01:13] The Importance of Case Studies in Marketing Strategy
[00:01:13] Ramli John: Are you ready?
[00:01:14] Joel Kletkke: Let's go.
[00:01:15] Ramli John: Marketing powerups ready. Go. Here's your host, Rambly. Good to have you. I know it's been a while since we connected. I'm excited to talk about Marketing Power Up, specifically around case studies and success stories. I know as the founder of Case Study Buddy, you probably know the importance of creating great success stories. I'm curious if do teams realize how important it is or I don't know. Where I work, it seems like it's not priority. It's like, let's do SEO, let's do content, let's do blog, let's do podcasting. And then success stories only come up when CS reaches out and be like, hey, we need some more success stories around this use case. And that's when it gets is that what you're finding? Where it's not really priority, but it's so important in terms of conversion and sport, everything else?
[00:02:15] Joel Kletkke: Yeah. I mean, nobody wants them till they really want they're not a priority because there are so many other more visible, competing priorities. And I think over time, teams also realize that they've adopted. I think most marketers have adopted this very passive, almost learned helplessness around case studies where they feel like they have to wait for the perfect one to just show up or, well, the accounts could always be better. So when is really the right time? Because other things, I think you talk about SEO, you talk about content. Those other things, they're so much easier to see recognizable processes around. Those are usually the things that get prioritized. It's easy for a market to go, okay, I need to build a content account leader and allocate the pieces and go get that. That's familiar and case studies. It's not that they're not valuable. Like I say, when they show up, everybody adores them. Sales wants them, customer success wants them, marketers love them. They can bake them into so many parts of the campaign, but they're not top of mind because they're difficult to do. There's other competing priorities and I think the other piece of it is not really clear ownership in most companies. It's like marketing is kind of tasked with doing these, but they quickly find they're dependent on all these other teams like CS. Ironically, they want them so bad. But then you turn around and in many cases ask them, oh, will you nominate a customer? Will you make this? No. They get gun shy. So I think the importance becomes self evident as soon as you have one. And the companies really clued in now are the ones already using them to build a moat, right? So people love them when they're there, but they're either afraid to or not aware of or just too busy to push, pause and think through what it takes to go and get them and to do them well.
[00:04:25] Ramli John: I love you set around being a moat because at your heart you're a copywriter. And seeing the before and after is so important. This is like a perfect story and people connect to stories so much, disarms people's objections and things like that. So I think it's like really want to double click on that, that it's so useful across the whole customer journey. Essentially.
[00:04:56] Joel Kletkke: That's what it is. There's so much utility there. We traditionally think of these stories as like if you still subscribe to the idea of a funnel, like bottom of funnel assets or like end of journey assets and they're certainly powerful there, but they're also fantastic in so many other ways. There are so many ways to tell a customer success story. For example, you can tell switcher stories of someone who was with a competitor and then came to you and why they made that choice and what that looked like. You can tell disambiguation stories where you're showing a new market, how your tool actually does serve them and does work within that market. The example that I point to, not a sexy one by any means, but there was a company that made these incredibly powerful medical grade type of air filtration systems and traditionally had been more in the manufacturing sector with like glass fiber dust and things like that. But then when the pandemic rolled out, all of a sudden there was this whole new market of gyms and public facilities and all of a sudden they needed stories that would help them show these nontraditional markets that actually here's an established solution that could work for you. So telling stories in that way, they work incredibly well in areas like remarketing if someone has come in and they've come in with that intent to learn about a product or they're interested, reminding them of the value others have achieved or are achieving. They can be very powerful there. And so when I talk about emote that's also what I'm pointing to is especially very saturated, very competitive spaces. I've said this for years. Your competitors can steal your positioning, they can steal your branding, they can steal your features, they can steal your design. There's so much they can copy, they cannot steal unless that customer is yours to lose. They cannot steal your success stories. These are, by virtue unique examples of how you came through. And so the more you have and the more strategic you are about them, the more they can feed into ads and outreach and retention and upselling and all. They become this very powerful load. But that's not going to happen by accident or if they're never top of mind for the marketing team. So there's still a lot of evolving, I think, for marketers to do. And that's exciting because there's still a lot of uncharted territory, I think.
[00:07:41] Ramli John: Didn't think about it. There's difference. You're telling a story, but there's multiple.
[00:07:45] Joel Kletkke: Ways to tell it.
[00:07:45] Ramli John: Could be a remarketing can penetrate a new market. I really love that you're saying that it's so important.
[00:07:52] Common Mistakes in Crafting Customer Success Stories
[00:07:52] Ramli John: This thing that you're talking about, you mentioned earlier about it's often false into the marketing team because you mentioned there isn't really a clear process around this, or a path and instructions. And because of that, I'm sure you've seen quite a few success stories that are like, wow, what the heck were they thinking? Kind of thing. What are some common mistakes that you've seen? And feel free to go on a rant like an angry rant.
[00:08:28] Joel Kletkke: What is wrong with you guys? Why are you doing it? The number one thing that frustrates me to see is stories where the customer was clearly not involved at all. There's no quotes, there's no headshot, there's no nothing. It's just here's a bunch of stuff we did well. That's not a customer success story because the customer is absent from it. There's no validity to it. You're cutting yourself off at the knees when you produce that way because you're missing that rich other half of the conversation, which is the experience of working with you, of achieving those results, their response to your strategy or your features, whatever. So that's the first thing that drives me bonkers, I think. The second thing that drives me nuts is trying the kitchen. Sink it. There are case studies that are so long or so unfocused because here's a good thing and here's a good thing and here's a good thing and here's a good thing. And when you look at it, it's like, well, I'll tell you, curry powder is a really good thing in a curry dish, right? Sugar is a wonderful thing in a dessert. Jalapenos are really great on a burrito. Basil is wonderful in dishes it's suited for. But when you take all of these of their own volition good things and start mixing them all together, it becomes this very distasteful attractive to nobody story where it's like, yeah, there's a lot of good stuff in here, but you're just bragging, you're not telling me a story. There's no narrative thread. I'm not learning anything other than here's a bunch of results. So that's a common mistake. I think another common mistake is stories that make the customer look like an idiot. Now, I don't see as many of these because they don't see the light of day, because they don't get approved. But your job when you're telling a story is not to paint your client in the worst possible light so that you can paint yourself in the best possible light. It's to show people that people like them with similar challenges, of a similar level of intelligence, of a similar background, made an informed decision that helped them level up. And when you make them look like hapless idiots, not only is your client not going to like that, that can seriously damage your relationship, but that's not attractive to others because others will go, well, they were really dumb. But we're actually much further ahead. We're not in that position. So that's something that really gets my goat.
[00:11:06] Maximising the potential of case studies with repurposing and strategic storytelling
[00:11:06] Joel Kletkke: I think we've talked about this already a little bit too. But one of the biggest, stupidest, most expensive mistakes you can make with a story is to tell it one way in one place, one time and move on. And that unfortunately, is the recipe book for most businesses. They put in so much effort to get that win in the first place and then get permission to talk about that win in the first place and then capture that win, that by the time something gets published like woohoo. And then they don't do anything with it, they don't repurpose it, they don't take it to different channels, they don't leverage it. They just kind of put it in a resources section or an index of content and hope that it's passively going to solve all of their problems. And that is such a missed opportunity for all of such a disservice to all of the effort it took to get that win in the first place and articulate it. And the positive spin to that is if you already case studies, your first port of call can often be just building on what you have rather than grinding out to get more. There's a lot of low hanging fruit for teams, so there are many, many more things I could go into, from boring stories to stories that are only available as PDF downloads. That drives me nuts. Lots of different things we could get into, but the fundamental, most frustrating things are when you either ignore the customer or you ignore your strategy and you just tell any old story or you ignore the opportunity to repurpose. I think it's ignorance more than anything that really kills the opportunity in customer stories.
[00:12:57] Ramli John: That's so good. One of the things that I want to double click on is around repurposing that case study. I know if people email@example.com, you repurpose into audiograms and one sheets and slide decks and you're really like arming the whole organization to use the success stories throughout the content, throughout the whole selling process, essentially. And I really love and admire that approach, rather than like it's efficient.
[00:13:31] Joel Kletkke: Like you've created this amazing story, turn.
[00:13:34] Ramli John: It into a movie, turn it into a TV like you were seeing this with like Harry Potter. Turn into a movie. A book turned into a movie. Now it's going to be a TV show.
[00:13:43] Joel Kletkke: HBO video game.
[00:13:46] Ramli John: Yeah, video game is on Broadway.
[00:13:49] Joel Kletkke: It's everywhere.
[00:13:49] Ramli John: And essentially what you're turning this great story into its many amazing formats for different people, essentially, is what I hear.
[00:13:59] Joel Kletkke: Yeah. And I think like a really simple framework too, because it's like, well, what is the use case for all these different pieces? Like you don't just want to have a lot of stuff. Why do this? And the best analogy and framework we use is kind of nibble bite snack meal, right? Different leads, prospects, clients, they have different appetites for information based on how aware they are. Like they're different levels of hungry, right? Someone who is nearer the end of the buyer's journey. They might really want the detail in a full 1500 word piece. They might want to sink their teeth into the quotes and the examples and the visuals and that might be perfectly appropriate for them. But if you take that same 1500 word format and try to deploy that in its current state in something like Cold outreach, you might not have the buy in from those people to consume something like that, right? So on the one end, you have nibbles where it's like an individual pull quote or a really short snippet of video or something very light. And then you move into the kind of this byte section. And that's where it could be a LinkedIn carousel version of the story, just very high level. It could be a slightly longer video clip. It could be like a one sheet that's just a quick hit of intrigue and information that pushes to something deeper. And then on the snack side of things, now, okay, I'm a little bit more hungry. I'm looking for a little bit more detail. I'm more willing to kind of spend some time with this. That's where you might have 750 word pieces or slide decks that you present to the person or a bit more of a detailed kind of presentation. And finally on that meal. And that's where you have these longer videos, these bigger pieces, these more in depth explorations of the full story, but giving your audience what they're ready for, what they're hungry for, meeting them at their level of need with these stories. That's a really simple way to think about it and to think about. Okay, for the channel we're on, if we're on social, what's our audience actually ready for here? Is it an audiogram? Maybe it's just a short video. Maybe it's just a pull quote. If we're running an ad campaign to a brand new market, maybe it's, again, just something small, something quick. Or if we're trying to do account based marketing and we're appealing to a whole industry, well, they might want the nitty gritty, meaty details of something more like a case study couched in a report. So coming at it through that lens gives you the ability to start perceiving the opportunities of we can tell this story in many ways, in many formats.
[00:16:44] The Power of Perspective in Case Studies
[00:16:44] Joel Kletkke: And the other side of this, too, that's even less common than doing any of that, is telling the same story, but through different perspectives. Oftentimes people want to interview multiple people for one story. They have two, three, four points of contact they want to try to wedge in. But let's say you interview a CTO and a CMO. Well, the buying criteria and concerns of a CTO are very, very different from the buying concerns of a CMO, a CEO, a CFO. And so if you have the ability to talk to multiple points of contact who are familiar with the story, you don't have to wedge them all into one piece. You can turn that into different pieces of collateral with different emphasis on different aspects of the relationship that help in these increasingly more complex B to B buying decisions. It's not getting simpler. It's more people being involved. Never. You can create collateral that appeals to an individual role and gives them something that you want. So again, it just comes back to there's so much opportunity, so much utility. If you only stop to think through, what's the strategy? Who is this intended to land for?
[00:17:58] Ramli John Discusses 42 Agency and HT's Free Webmaster Tools
[00:17:58] Ramli John: Before I continue, I want to thank the sponsor for this episode, 42 Agency. Now, when you're in scale up growth mode and you have to hit your KPIs, the pressure is on to deliver demos and sign ups. And it's all to handle this demand gen, email sequences, rev ops, and more. And that's where 42 Agency, founded by my good friend Camille Rexton, can help you. They are a strategic partner that's helped b two B SaaS companies like Profit, Awall, Teamwork, Sprout, Social, and Hub Doc to build a predictable revenue engine. If you're looking for performance experts and creatives to solve your marketing growth problems today and help you build the foundations for the future, look no further. Visit 42 Agency.com to talk to a strategist right now to learn how you can build a high efficiency revenue engine. Thank you also to the sponsor for this episode. HT's Free Webmaster Tools if you want to rank your website higher in search engines, you have to make sure that your website doesn't have any technical SEO issues. Because if you do that's like trying to run a race with your shoes tied together. That's how you lose and we don't want that. Luckily, HTT's Free Webmaster Tools can crawl up to 5000 pages to find 140 common technical SEO issues that could be holding your site back from generating valuable traffic. It can also help you find your strongest backlinks as well as analyze keywords you're ranking for and see keywords search volume and ranking difficulty. For each of those keywords, you can sign up for Free@htraps.com Webmastertools or find the link in the description and show notes.
[00:19:29] Understanding the Ingredients of a Great Customer Success Story with Joel Kletkke
[00:19:29] Ramli John: Well, let's get back to the episode that piece around telling the story in a different way. Going with analogy of bite sized snacks, like maybe somebody wants it spicier, another person wants it a little saltier, you're giving them the flavor that they prefer. And I really love this analogy. So good. I'm like getting hungry, right? You're talking a little I mean, we're going to dig into now this analogy further. What are some ingredients of some great you're already leading into it? You're talking about strategy, but if you're talking about this bite size snackable success stories, I'm sure there's like common ingredients that make it great. What are those ingredients that you find needs to be there so that it's great to consume?
[00:20:21] Joel Kletkke: Yeah, I think it all starts with relevance and that comes with, I mean, it's ultra cliche at this point, but it comes with knowing your market to a degree that you can go not just what kind of metric would really impress them, but what kind of impact beyond that metric are they really looking right? What do they want to change in their world? What do they want to make possible? What pain do they want alleviated? We fixate so much on percent lift in whatever or X financial amount of change. And yes, that makes for a great hook. It is a good part of the recipe. If you can get a great metric though I will argue till the day I die. You can tell a very good story without any metrics at all. But it's what will be relevant and compelling to those people beyond the metric. What kinds of stories do they want to see themselves in and intentionally curating those? I think you also want some element of tension and stakes in the story. There has to be some consequence for getting it wrong if no action was taken, something negative looming in the background that needed to be attended to. And that's where, again, you have to be very careful not to paint your clients like idiots who couldn't solve a problem, but more as people who wisely chose, recognized an issue and said we need to do something about this, and then chose you to be their partner on that side of things or their solution for that. So tension and stakes I think really help. I think I would argue there needs to be some humanity to the story. Quite literally, there needs to be a hero in a person, not just a brand. The best stories are about people and the decisions they make and the impacts of those decisions on them and their boss and their department and also the future of the company and so on and so forth. So there needs to be a person, a hero, someone who's telling the story from the client's side and then a really important ingredient. There has to be a clear narrative, a clear thread to pull, because a collection of nice quotes and bullet points is not a customer success stories. It's not a story at all. It's accolades, it's details. But if you want to tell a story, there has to be a clear before, during, after trajectory, the whole infomercial kind of format. There has to be a world before, an experience of the solution, and then something came about because of it. So I think those are all really key ingredients. Now. There's other ingredients that can spice things up or make things appealing. Like the MSG of case studies is really great polished design. Having something that is visually compelling. I don't think it's critical. But we're seeing more and more companies engage with interactive. So things that swing in or pop out, not to the point it's distracting, but just different media that I can engage with as I choose. Whether I want to see audio in there or video in there or kind of choose my own adventure and how I want this story to speak to me. But I think those first things I mentioned are all core ingredients that make for something, whether it's video, whether it's written, make for something compelling and angled toward impact versus just angle toward bragging. So that's what we look for and what we try to create on our end, whether it's clients or people who trying to DIY, it's what we try to encourage them to look for.
[00:24:07] Ramli John: I love that. Once again, this analogy is so good, the whole MSG. Yeah, I'm going to go eat because I'm getting hungry. You've done a lot of I think I saw on your site that people should check it out, but over 1500 or maybe more by now success stories.
[00:24:32] Joel Kletkke: We'Ve got to be way past that, I'm sure. We've been at this over seven years and there are some clients we've worked with who have done just on their own, 50 in a year. So it compounds a lot over time. Yeah, we've seen a lot and we put together a lot.
[00:24:52] Ramli John: I'm guessing it depends.
[00:24:53] The Role and Benefits of Success Stories in Companies
[00:24:53] Ramli John: But I am curious what your thoughts are on how many success stories, the more the better. Just because cherry pick based on case studies or product use cases or verticals, but I'm sure you can have multiple under those different use cases. So do you have a suggestion on how many is good?
[00:25:17] Joel Kletkke: I think think of it through the lemon. Keeping with the food analogies, think of it through the lens of like a menu, right? Different flavors for different folks, different dishes for different people. All of it good, but appealing to different individuals. I think when I talk about a company doing upwards of 50 a year, you have to realize for that to be worthwhile at all, there needs to be a clear sense of what are the coverage gaps you're filling. You don't just want to tell stories. To tell stories volume in and of itself is impressive. It's amazing to go to salesforce's site and see they have 10 trillion testimonials. I mean, there's an element of trust in that itself, right? But the real reason to go for more stories is because you're ticking more boxes in terms of coverage gaps. So I mentioned earlier, but some of those stories might be very specific. Rip and replace. I'm using software now, but rip and replace, right? If I have ten core competitors, I can easily have three stories each per competitor over time building up of people who've switched from them to us and why they made that choice. And you start compounding rolling in company size or the roles involved. And now you can see how this can get quite fast and where you need to have a clear sense of priority and what gaps you're even trying to fill. You can have these rep and replace stories. You can have these disambiguation stories. You can have stories that sell not the core product, but the add on features or upsells help people navigate that. You could have implementation stories that only focus on the experience of getting going. You can have just a myriad of different stories told about the different scenarios your clients will find themselves in or the different pains they want to alleviate, or the different buying criteria they have. When they make a decision to get to that point and to do it meaningfully, you have to take a step back, look at your own business and revenue goals, whether for the quarter, for the year, and say what stories would be best for the place we're in to empower these conversations and start there. And then you might be in a place where you only have 50 clients, period, and you're never going to get 100%. So I'm not trying to say again, like, you should be doing that many. But regardless of your company size, your client base, there is power in taking a step back and saying, okay, strategically, for our business goals, for our revenue goals, for the clients we want to attract, the problems we want. To solve what types of stories will help us have those conversations and then intentionally curating that as opposed to waiting for it to come to you? And the bonus of this is we talked earlier about part of the reason these don't get done is because teams are so dependent on each other and don't even realize it. Well, when marketing can come to CS or when marketing can come to sales and say, we want to produce things that enable conversations for you that make your job easier, we want to have a conversation with you about what those stories could look like, what those formats could look like. We want you to have a voice in what we're doing. Not only do those teams feel more recognized and they're more likely to participate in the first place, but now it gives you a short list of things that you can take back and go, okay, well, here's the criteria. We're going for this quarter. Nominate people like this. And it makes it way less ambiguous, way easier to participate. So putting some bumpers on the bowling alley, some focus to this makes an enormous difference to ever achieving that kind of scale. You will not get there without some.
[00:29:15] Ramli John: Kind of structure that makes a ton of sense.
[00:29:21] The Process of Crafting Detailed Case Studies with Joel Kletkke
[00:29:21] Ramli John: Let's talk a little bit about that structure in terms of process. I think I saw on your site, like, you interview a few folks or some folks within that company. I'm guessing you use some kind of question that's aligned to jobs be done before, during, and after. Can you talk a little bit about that process? How do you create those amazing what is that called? Michelin star dishes.
[00:29:51] Joel Kletkke: Success stories. Yeah. I mean, so much happens before you ever get the customer involved, right? Yeah. For our part, the success of the story lives in a couple of places. Number one, helping our client set the right expectation with the customer, because the customer needs to know, what am I going to be asked about? Is it safe for me to participate? Why should I take part? So there's some behind the scenes work that goes on in terms of helping them make better asks, more consistent asks, prime that customer to come ready to tell that story. The other thing we really depend on and work with our clients on it's. Not again, not a sexy secret bullet thing, but a really good brief. We don't want to get on a call with a client until we have as much context, reasonably as is available for their story. We don't have to know everything. We don't need to have the whole start to finish, every minute detail. But if we can know before going into that call how the relationship has gone, what they originally came in looking for, what their win has looked like, what KPIs should we be asking about? What KPIs are available? What coverage gap does this story fit in? There's a lot of work that happens there because what we don't do and what I firmly believe nobody should do is take the same ten questions and go to every customer you have and ask those same ten questions and hope you get these wonderful, incredible stories. We use that context to use that minimal amount. Of interaction. We get 30 to 60 minutes tops, and 60 is only if we're doing a video and there's lots of learning pieces, so on and so forth. We want to spend that time going deep, not wide. Do not want to be both simultaneously discovering their story for the first time on a call and trying to go deep on the minutiae of that story. So, so much of it is about doing the legwork in a really efficient way, getting the context in a way that doesn't feel like a chore for anybody, and then using that to inform the conversation that you have, and then writing or filming or editing to that brief toward that strategy, keeping all of that in mind. That's how you arrive at these for us anyways, these strong stories, these intentional stories, is the clearer you are on setting expectations, gathering the context, knowing the story or the angle you want to take, you can still be open to pivoting. If the story presents itself differently in the conversation, the clearer you are going in, the stronger you are coming out. And when we talk structure, that's what setting that all up is for. It's meaningless, busy work. It's not that we want to make it more complicated than it needs to be. People I was reading today, so I was like, I'll just send my client like, some stories or not some stories, some questions over email, and that'll be our story. And it's like, it could work well, could go the way you want it, but it probably won't because you'll be missing the conversational part of that. And the whole, why are you asking those questions, why not other questions? And all of the legwork. So we don't want to meaninglessly complicated or needlessly complicated, but there are things up front you can do to put everyone in a better position to produce something great that's so good.
[00:33:29] Discussion on Successful Customer Stories Creation
[00:33:29] Ramli John: You're really driving into that in terms of like when I was mentioning around how many success stories, customer success stories you are creating with your team, I was curious if there's one that really stands out. Probably hard to pick one from all the houses that you've already created, but is there one that really stands out for you that either you're most proud of or you think would be cool for my audience, marketing audience to check out as to what does this process or this ideal success story you're talking about looks like.
[00:34:09] Joel Kletkke: Yeah, so I want to be fair. So I'll give some that we didn't do, and I'll give some we did. Because, you know, I'm not so arrogant as to think that even after all of the things we've done, I'm not so organized to think we're the only ones who've nailed it. So one of my favorite stories I've ever seen is not one we did. I wish we did it, but a company called Mutiny site is Mutiny HQ. If you go onto their site and you go to a section called Playbooks. They have the best action driven case studies ever seen, period. And there's elements to these that are so good and so well thought out. For example, in their top section of the story, you'll see a little cult that says what you'll learn, what you'll need, they make a promise off of the top. Here are the things you're going to be able to do by the time this story is finished. Here are the things you're going to need to be able to do it. Now that's not only smart because it sets an expectation, but within that, things you need, mutiny is going to show up there. So if you want the result that this person got, well, they're part of the recipe for getting that. But what they've also done an incredible job within these stories is making their customer the hero and the smart one. So these Playbooks are literally things that their clients have done and demonstrations of not only the how, but the story surrounding the how, what challenge they faced, why they thought this was a solution, literally how they implemented and you can go do the same and then the ROI that they achieved. And so what it leaves you with is something that feels very credible, very inspiring of action because I can go, they did it, they're like me, I can do it too. So those stories I think, are phenomenal and some of my favorite examples in terms of work that we've done, I mean, there's so many that I'm proud of. I'm really proud of the on location video featuring Zendesk that we did for Playbox that was a really challenging and interesting scenario and the way that came together and what we were able to get out of ultimately a relatively constrained situation. I think it's a good example of storytelling under constraints.
[00:36:32] A conversation with Joel Kletkke about the impact of storytelling in Case Study Buddy
[00:36:32] Joel Kletkke: There are some stories for HubSpot, for startups. And what excites me about that is not only Ron Dawson on their side who leads the charge for that program on the North America side has this very cool vision that he is actioning of these very inclusive stories showcasing underrepresented groups and underrepresented founders but also just these really great stories where HubSpot is not the marquee in the story. It's really about these people. When you read these stories, it's almost more like, I want to be like the people doing this with HubSpot than it is just, well, I should be on HubSpot. And so we had the opportunity to contribute to some of those and help tell those stories in a bit of a unique format. So I'm tremendously proud of the way those came together. And again, like Ron Dawson deserves a ton of credit for, for the way it came together and the way it presented. But that's kind of the great thing about what we do is when we have partners that have these clear visions and cool ideas, we get to be part of having those expressed, I think. I'm also tremendously proud of the stories we've done for Veronis in the cloud security space for an odd reason, and that's because we will have done over 100 stories for them at some point in the coming year. Just for them. Yeah, 90 plus percent of those are anonymous. So we've had the very unique challenge of how do you tell a very compelling story over 90 times with anonymous customers at the center. And it has to be anonymous because in many cases you talk about breaches or a very intricate part of a security stack. And so I'm just so proud of my team because they have been able to keep it fresh and compelling and find the unique angles in stories that span a product suite, in stories where they can't just lean on the logo to make it compelling. So I'm very proud of the work that we've been able to do there for them because to me, it's proof that anonymous stories can be strong and can make an impact.
[00:38:53] Ramli John: I will link all of those in the description and show us that anonymous piece is like, wow.
[00:39:01] Joel Kletkke: I don't know.
[00:39:02] Ramli John: Any book or movies where no, I mean, they don't have a name, but they have a face. Yeah, I'm just trying to think through that. But thank you so much for sharing those.
[00:39:12] Building Meaningful Relationships: Joel Kletkke's Power Up
[00:39:12] Ramli John: I want to shift gears and talk about career power ups yourself, I think you've been in tech for over 15 years. You have some jobs like SEO specialist, you're a tech columnist at CBC, you're a copywriter, and now you're founder of Case Study Buddy. What's a power up that's helped you kind of level up your career, whether that's being a founder or being a marketer copywriter or could be related to marketing itself, or it could be related to softer skills or networking. So curious what for your power up is.
[00:39:48] Joel Kletkke: Yeah, I've been really reflecting on this a lot because it's something I feel I've lost in recent years that I'm working to get back and that is the ability to authentically participate in community. So much of what has become possible for me, so many of the doors that have been open, whether for clients or for learning or for just friendships even, have come from the willingness to be part of a community without constantly trying to extract from the community. I've been thinking through where my first Marquee really clank came from, the big project it's dated now that I've been known for. I worked on HubSpot. You know, I had the chance to do some work for for HubSpot and that was the first visible brand that I got to work with. And people ask, how did you get that VA? Was it RFP? Did you apply for it? And the answer is not there's no secret hack it's that, well, Barbie was doing work. I loved and enjoyed and I thought was cool. And I was doing work that he thought was interesting. And neither one of us at the time had anything to offer the other or sell the other. We just connected because we appreciated the other person and kept that conversation going. And so when Matt wound up at HubSpot and had a need, I was given an opportunity to prove myself. And I think that gets lost, especially for new marketers and younger marketers. I think the older you get, maybe the more you figured out, the long you've been in industry, the more you realize, in the same way that it took very little time in the working world for me to realize. Every company is chaos. Like every single one, there's not a company on the planet that doesn't have some degree of chaos behind the veneer. The realization that every company is just comprised of people, it sounds like such a banal statement, but every company is just individuals doing their best, trying to make their mark and have an impact. And you can get to know individuals. And it's not just like I'm going to pitch the CEO or I'm going to XYZ. So much of my opportunity has come from moments where I wasn't seeking opportunity at all and I was just trying to help or make friends or connect. And so whether that's in person events, online communities, just answering email with someone who asks for me, there are copywriters who've shown up in my inbox as newbies asking for help. And I thought, okay, I'll take the ten minutes, shoot them a little quick video, and then they go on to do amazing things and they bring you with them. They're like, hey, I'm at X giant unicorn company now, and you've always been good to me and I know you're doing this thing, so would you like to come? So it's just making these connections, building these relationships, being part of a community without constantly looking to mine that community for value. I think that's been a power up that's intentionally or not benefited me a great deal.
[00:43:29] Ramli John: That really makes me reflect on a lot of things, like how I ended up where I am. It's through people that I connected with introducing me to that opportunity. And you never know, the person that you connected with over email might end up client or something else or business partner. Yeah, super cool to hear that.
[00:43:55] Joel Kletkke's Advice to Younger Self: Be Vulnerable, Ask for Help
[00:43:55] Ramli John: One final question around very similar to this career power up, but you can answer in many ways. If you can send a message back in time to a younger Joel who is like maybe starting out in marketing or career, what would be an advice? Once again, it could be around marketing or around community or any tip that you could send back to that younger Joe. What would be that tip or that advice?
[00:44:25] Joel Kletkke: Be, yeah, get over yourself and ask for help. I think there's so much noise. Everybody wants to look competent and capable and like, they're crushing it and look at my numbers and look at my stuff and buy my book and take my course. There's nothing wrong with that on its face. But I wasted way too much time muddling through figuring things out the hard way because I didn't want to look vulnerable. I didn't want to look stupid or I wanted to be seen as competent. And I wish I had just asked for help more often, been more willing to be wrong, been more willing to be vulnerable, been more open to the idea that other people have a lot to contribute and a lot to say, and they're not a threat. And you asking a question is not reflective of weakness. Yeah, I think that's what I would say is just like, be curious and get over it and just ask for help and be interested. Don't write people off again. When you're building your own thing and you're putting your head down and you're trying to build authority and all that stuff, it's very easy to drink your own koolaid and think, oh, I know what I'm doing, I'm doing it well. I can figure this out. I think that would be the message, is just ask for help.
[00:46:08] Ramli John: Love that.
[00:46:09] Joel Kletkke: So good.
[00:46:11] Influencer Noise and Authentic Connections in Digital Marketing
[00:46:11] Ramli John: What are your thoughts about those trends? Like pumping their chest? Yeah, I'm curious.
[00:46:22] Joel Kletkke: Are you over that?
[00:46:23] Ramli John: It's like, oh, man, another person, like, bragging about their you know, like trying to I don't get followers or yeah.
[00:46:33] Joel Kletkke: You know, I've I've softened a bit. I used to really get upset about that stuff and lash out, and it used to really frustrate me that people that I perceived as not being the real deal were selling courses or writing these big threads and thumping their chest. And I think I've softened a bit because even something like cold outreach, you get this cold outreach. It's like when you're driving a car, it's like a weird scenario where there's very visceral anger that just comes out of you. Like, why am I mad at an inbox? This is stupid. Yeah, I think the realization that it's all a game, really, it's all a game. Everyone's just trying to build their empire, make their mark. Some people are going to do that in a way that appeals to me. Some people are going to do that in a way that I find gross, but appeals to others and expending energy. It's hard not to even now, but burning cycles, I'm like, look how dumb this is. Look how frustrating this is. Just takes me away from playing the game my way. Right. And the realization too. The hidden secret. A lot of the people making the most noise are also the most insecure. That's why they're doing it. They need to be seen. They need to be validated. They need you to think they're smart. And I say that as someone who's been there and been that person, they're doing it because, number one, again, they want the economic opportunity that comes with it. But there's fear, I think, a lot of the time. Not universal, but I think a lot of these people are scared that if they don't, they won't be relevant, they won't be known, or they won't be remembered, or they won't keep up. And so I think I've softened to it, because I see this side of it where it's like, I understand the game you're playing. I might not like how you're playing it, but I see the game you're playing. And then simultaneously, at the end of the day, choosing to be I've talked about this a little bit lately, but choosing to be curious about why something works or what someone's done, as opposed to angry at the way they're doing it, just is better for your blood pressure and your career path.
[00:49:03] Ramli John: That's so true. I tweeted recently, when I was young, in my career, I would try to wow people with data, be like, oh, let me do regression and do this. And at the heart of it, I was like, it was trying to cover up my insecurity. So I think it's interesting that you say that it could be a sign of insecurity, and I say that being too dangerous, driven as a marketer is often a sign of insecurity. And maybe writing those threats could be as well. Really insightful. I never thought about it that way.
[00:49:40] Joel Kletkke: I think, at very least, we all want to be liked. We all want to be heard. We all want to feel like we've got something to give. And it's interesting. I read a post the other day, someone saying, those people leaving really detailed, helpful comments on your LinkedIn posts, they're not doing it for you, they're doing it for them. And he's not wrong. We're all playing the same game. And the more I learn to divorce myself personally from that and just play it in the way I feel is good for me, the better off I ultimately am. And I think bringing it back to that noise will always be there. But it's been my experience I have made way more money, way more happiness off of actual one to one connections than hanging a pot and pan about my numbers.
[00:50:45] Ramli John: Well, that was it. That was such a fun time. Maybe it's because Joel is also a Canadian, like I am. But you can find out more about Joel and his firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Joel on LinkedIn and Twitter.
[00:50:57] Marketing Powerups Podcast Closing Remarks after Interview with Joel Kletkke
[00:50:57] Ramli John: All of those links are in the description and show notes below. Thank you to Joel for being on the show. If you enjoyed this episode, you'd love the Marketing Powerups newsletter. Share the actionable takeaways and break down the frameworks of world class marketers. Go to marketingpowerups.com subscribe, and you'll instantly unlock the three best frameworks that top marketers use hit their KPIs consistently, and wow their colleagues I want to say thank you to you for listening and please like and follow Marketing Powerups on YouTube, Apple Podcast and Spotify. To really extra generous, kind of leave a review on Apple podcast and Spotify and leave a comment on YouTube. Goes a long way in others finding out about Marketing Powerups. Thanks to Mary Sullivan for creating the artwork and design. And thank you to Fisal KAIGO for editing the intro video. Of course. Thank you for listening. That's all for now. Have a powered update. Marketing Powerups until the next episode.