The best way to create new leads is through press coverage, and a zero cost way to accomplish this is by writing and submitting a case study to a magazine, be it an ezine or traditional publication. Partnerships offer new angles on a boring case study, so I´m going to delve into one consultant in the retail field who took on a partner, made money (3K a month within 60 days) and wrote a case study-all at zero cost to him.
Case Study 101
A case study has 4 components: problem faced, options, solution and outcomes. When the case study promotes a partnership, it does so by focusing on the customer. It goes like this:
2-select the best industry, click on the publication, then go you have 3 options to get the requirements for a case study submission. Call, email or write for the editorial calendar. As a rule of thumb, ask for the editorial assistant if the publication is small, and the managing editor if the pub has a large circulation.
Many of the call or write-in emails I get are from individuals who have a talent, but aren´t confident this talent can be turned into a business. Case in point, a man who works in retail, I´ll call Joe, who gets praise from his existing employer, a nationally known clothing retail, for window staging. In layman´s terms, the person who makes the window displays cool. Yes, this is an art form, and yes, these people take it very seriously. The problem is that Joe doesn´t get in enough hours, and wants to freelance his talent for extra income. Since he´s not in a position to worry about a non-compete, I proposed he search out a partner who had a product he could use, sell and then pitch to a magazine.
He did. A friend who designs and makes hand-made accessories like scarves. Yes, sounds ridiculous, but he turned it into three grand a month side business. Here´s how.
Joe pitched his friend "Mike" on promoting the scarves through his display services for a cut of the revenue. Joe would pitch boutique retail stores on window "staging´. Joe would work Mike´s hand-made accessories into the window displays for a % of the revenue. Mike said yes. Why wouldn´t he? Joe is the one pitching his services and doing the work while Mike gets to sit around and knit.
Within two months, Joe had six boutiques he staged on a weekly basis. He called me back to share his success, and I recommended he get some free press by telling his story. He went to yahoo! And found Design and Display Magazine.
Not only did he find that his talent was a real vocation, but a link from the mag to Career Builder lists over 1600 jobs from all types of retail stores, large and small alike.
Once he found the publication, he located the editorial calendar. This is the section that articulates what subjects the magazine will cover when. In his case, he found it by going to the About Us, then the Magazine, then the 2007 Editorial Calendar.
3-he wrote the case study. In Joe’s case, it was selecting a customer that benefited from his services. He chose a snappy women´s boutique that was under performing, and correlated his services to the increased revenue of the business. (with the owner´s support and confirming quotes). Joe made sure to emphasize the unique part of the story, which were not his staging services. But that the partnership facilitated a unique differentiation (I forgot to write the Joe got an exclusive on staging Mike´s accessories for a period of time).
A side note on writing a case study. Even though it will not likely be taken word for word and published by the magazine, but re-written, it still needs to be catchy, and include interesting facts. A world away from retail staging is technology. I love this first paragraph from Cisco. It´s pretty hard to tie in American Idol winner Taylor Hicks to the first paragraph of a case study, one about technology no less, but they did it. Again, the first paragraph should also include concrete statistics, which this intro paragraph does nicely as well.
The jury´s out as to final article, and when it will come out, but he tells me the effort took only a few hours-that being the time to write the article, pitch the editorial assistant and send in the case study. With edits, it may be another hour max. That kind of do-it-yourself PR is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars in additional revenue to Joe, since thousands of folks who read the publication might be future clients.
It all started with an idea for extra money, a simple partnership (at zero cost) and ended up with a stellar opportunity for press. That´s a great example of a partnership case study.
Pitched a partnership story? Share your experience with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.