Are you using case studies as part of your sales and marketing playlist? If not, perhaps you should…
Almost everyone looks for recommendations before they make a decision: what restaurant to try, what car to purchase, what kind of firewall to meet your unique security needs.
I.T. buyers are no different. A recent study by Eccolo Media[i] found that 36% of buyers use case studies when researching solutions, third behind white papers (49%) and brochures/data sheets (46%). What was also interesting in the same study was that “in general, buyers overwhelmingly prefer traditional written case studies to those presented as audio, video, one-page summaries, or Microsoft PowerPoint slides.”
TechTarget’s research[ii] identifies that Case Studies are used in all phases of the sales process, including Awareness, Consideration and Decision. Ecolo Media research agrees, and identifies that use is highest when a company is trying to understand the problem, identify solutions and consider vendors.
A case study is a customer success story. It should outline the problem a customer had, why they chose your solution, and the results they’ve achieved since implementation. It should speak to the problems prospective customers are experiencing, so they can see how other companies like theirs solved a similar problem.
If you’re not using case studies, why not?
We don’t have the resources. Why not hire a freelance writer who works on a project basis. And if you work with one who understands technology, your solution and your customers, then there’s not a lot of prep work needed. Professional writers are experienced in interviewing people, and can often get customers to open up more than you might, which can result in a compelling story.
We use customer testimonials instead. Testimonials are ubiquitous these days, and sometimes can be overlooked because of that. They won’t provide the level of detail a prospect needs when they’re researching solutions, such as the problem the customer experienced, why they chose your solution, and the net improvements they’ve achieved as a result.
Our solution isn’t that complex. While your solution might be straightforward, the problems and business issues that customers face are often complex. And it would be folly to assume that prospects automatically understand how your solution solves a problem and generates positive results.
They’re too expensive. Generally, a case study can cost as little as $500 if you work with a freelance writer and do the layout internally. Of course, if you work with an agency and have the case study professionally laid out, then the costs will increase, but compared to other marketing initiatives, a case study is still very cost effective. And given the variety of ways you can use a case study, it can provide a pretty substantial return on investment:
- Sales leave behind – the classic use.
- Post on your web site – often this is the first thing prospects will look at when researching your solution.
- Direct marketing program: You can either highlight a customer success story in a campaign, or use the case study as a fulfillment piece.
- Post on your blog.
- In an advertisement – whether print, online ezine, or even pay-per-click advertising.
- Feature in a webinar.
- Highlight the customer success at an industry conference.
- Use as part of new sales training materials, and new employee orientation.
- Use as a conversation for inside sales people.
- Leave a few details on voice mail when telephone prospecting.
- Add to a proposal, especially if you’re proposing a similar solution for a similar issue.
- Re-work as a press release.
- Add to your annual report.
- 6 other things you can do with case studies.
When offer a technology solution, both your marketing and sales playlists need case studies. Rather than just highlighting your solution, case studies provide credibility, and help prospects understand that your solution can solve their problem. They’re relatively inexpensive, and can be re-purposed in a variety of ways. Why not review some case studies I’ve done. I’d love to help you create a compelling customer story: contact me at 905-439-9340 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] Eccolo Media 2014 B2BTechnology Content Survey Report, Eccolo Media Inc., December 2013. www.eccolomedia.com.
[ii] 2013/2014 TechTarget Media Consumption Research Brief ,Content essentials for technology buying teams worldwide