Want the Too Long;Don’t Read Version? Watch this video…
Being able to publish details of a project which turned a client into a “Raving Fan” is one of the most powerful B2B marketing tools at your disposal.
When creating an IT company website design, featuring some good case studies not only tells the story about your customers’ problems and how you solved them, they should also be gold-standard testimonials for you.
Get it right, as part of your tactical marketing plan, and you’ll have a tool which could be the deciding difference between you and a competitor.
Sometimes LESS is MORE. When adding content to attract technology sales leads, rather than have a heap of Case Studies which can be overwhelming, so probably won’t be read, settle on a handful with quality details across a range of your preferred industry types. Oh, and before you publish it, be sure the contact in the subject organisation is going to wrap you up like a Swiss Choccy!
You might feel that case studies are a pain to create – especially with the often tedious, multi-layered, time consuming approval process. A lot of SaaS content marketing agencies agree with you, but we’d say the pain is more than worth the gain.
Case studies (or success stories if you like) have multiple uses throughout the B2B marketing funnel and elsewhere:
- At the beginning – as a component of your B2B marketing to show that this is not your first time
- During – as part of your tactical marketing plan to overcome objections or refocus the prospect
- Late – as part of proposals, submissions and your funnel strategy
- As handouts at conferences, speaking directly to your B2B buyer persona
- As downloads from your website to attract quality tech sales leads
- As content in industry-specific outbound emails.
Case studies that persuade
Ideal candidates for engaging case studies are surprisingly hard to find. The accepted wisdom on the story line tends to be: problem > solution > decision > outcome. That’s fine, but a bit bland and boring and, if you just stick to this time-honoured formula, yours will be too. To stand out, to be authentic and convincing, your case studies need energy, colour and the originality of a customer’s own voice.
The Cardinal Rule for authentic Case Studies is: don’t make them poorly disguised promotion. This is your customer’s story, not yours, so be creative but also keep in mind these simple guidelines:
- Write from the customer’s and their organisation’s perspective
- Let the customer do the talking, and use real quotes in their own words
- Detail enough specifics on the problems and outcomes so they’re real, but refrain from endless reams of tech data on the ‘how’ – focus on the ‘why’ and ‘what happened next…’
- Use photos, graphs and diagrams to illustrate key points
- Engage a software marketing agency to design a high impact template with pull-out quotes and highlight paragraphs
- Use video. A talking customer in their own environment is dynamite.
Let us reiterate: this is the customer’s story so let them do the talking!
With their permission, ask your customer leading questions ‘interview style’ and record the session. That way you can go back and take your time to extract their strongest comments.
As usual, the questions you ask are key to what the answers will reveal. Most effective are open questions like:
how serious was the problem you were trying to solve?
In one of our case studies, the CEO of a recruitment agency answered: ‘It was a nightmare, very hit and miss. Candidates would send emails but there was no way to track or retrieve them. We were repeating the same processes over and over, wasting lots of time. ’This simple quote makes it very clear why the agency needed better recruitment software. And the outcome? ‘Our recruiters love it,’ says the CEO, ‘The new system is our “bible” now, and critical to our business.’
See how the customer’s voice adds authenticity to the case study, while terms like “bible”, and “critical to our business” add flavour and spice?
The supporting cast
Detail is lifeblood of any story, so it’s important to capture the key elements and outcomes. Specificity adds authenticity, an essential ingredient for building trust with the reader.
One of our clients makes document automation software, which for one of their customers reduced the creation of complex financial contracts from 7 hours to 40 minutes. That’s the kind of detail that makes prospects sit up and ask: ‘How did they do that? I want to find out more. ’The template you choose for Case Studies must be strong. To ensure the result is highly polished, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a suitably qualified B2B sales and marketing agency, or content marketing agency. Make sure relevant headings, key points and testimonials stand out. Stay away from the standard problem > solution sequence. Add life to it with the customer’s own words such as ‘It’s the bible now’.
Where possible, use a diagram or graph to illustrate a point, or a link to video. If you have a good customer who is also a confident presenter, a short video can make a lasting impact and influence decision-makers with a similar B2B buyer persona. Here are some video examples
For added value
A great way to make case studies more valuable to prospects in a similar situation is to have your customer give them good advice. For that purpose, you’d ask questions like:
- What do you wish you’d paid more attention to up front?
- What should the key criteria be for evaluating a product like this?
- What are the worst pitfalls when implementing a solution like this?
It wraps up the case study by connecting your customer’s experience with the issues others in the same industry may face.
Whether you decide to use a specialist specialised B2B Sales and Marketing Agency, or your inhouse marketing team, use the power of carefully crafted Case Studies as part of your tactical marketing plan. They are an essential element in gaining trust and boosting your reputation.
Edited by Jan Murphy from original article by senior content writer for Tech Torque Systems, Tracey James