Expert marketers know that there’s a lot of value to be had in case studies. While they might lack the glitz and glamor of your average marketing and sales copy, it does cut to the heart of that most crucial of customer questions: what can you REALLY do for me? Because the best case studies give a compelling look on how exactly a specific product or service has impacted an actual customer, they’re up there among the most effective tools in B2B marketing. Of course, the key is in getting them written correctly.
What You Shouldn’t Do
It’s very tempting when writing a case study to make you and your company the focus of the narrative. And why not? After all, is it not your case study written to show case what amazing solutions you’ve brought forth to make your clients’ lives easier? Well, yes. But if you focus on you, your brand, and solutions, you aren’t really writing a case study—you’re just writing longer marketing or advertorial copy. In which case, what’s the point?
1 – Make the Customer the Hero
While the main point of a case study is to deliver real-world data to showcase the effectiveness of your products or services, you would do well to grab at the opportunity to create relatable content. Many companies and businesses out there will be much like the company your feature in many aspects—starting at some point as a dream, striving to be the best in their industry, and facing many similar challenges.
In fleshing out the story of your featured company, you give other businesses a touchpoint upon which they themselves are reflected in. As you set to detail the pain points you successfully addressed, you give other businesses a point of relatability—a feeling of “I’ve been there too.” This makes for compelling reading, especially those for whom a solution is not yet forthcoming. All that without even throwing your name into the mix.
2 – Stick to the Numbers
As much of a narrative as case studies can be, it’s critical that you always stick to the numbers and what they say—no more no less. Resist the urge to fly off into tangents that are ungrounded in facts. If the data says it’s a 10% increase in conversions, then that’s what you talk about. It might not seem like a big win, but it’s a win nonetheless. For companies that might have been looking at sales figures in the red for some time, that boost is appealing.
Also, it’s realistic. Many people today are very resistant to sales talk that boasts big numbers in short periods of time. If something seems to good to be true, it usually is. In sticking to the facts-as-they-are, you present yourself as authentic, honest, and more dependable. Key numbers to include are growth statistics, returns-on-investment, improvements in processes, and timeframes among others. It’s best to throw these in later in a case study.
3 – Be a Stepping Stone and Not a Savior
Naturally, as a case study forms a core part of your core B2B content marketing strategy, you’re going to have to talk about how you did in fact provide an amazing solution. The way not to do this is to make it seem like you charged in the conquering hero and saved the business from certain doom single-handedly. For one, that’s very pretentious. For another, it’s not exactly true. More likely, a business was already doing great and just had one bump that needed to be pushed out of the way.
The best way to frame your involvement is to elaborate how your featured customer used your products and solutions to move beyond the challenges they faced. This gives you ample opportunity to detail the specifics of how your products and services work, how they stand out from the competition, all without the need to resort to advertorial sales talk and marketing banter. This approach also keeps your customer as the hero of the story.
4 – Highlight Your Commitment to Serve
Finally, it bears mentioning that, while talking about your services and products is very important to creating a successful case study, equally important is how you detail your commitment to serving your client and helping them resolve their problems. This is an intangible that many companies have at the back of their minds when shopping for solutions but don’t necessarily ever get to ask. Sure, the products and services are great, they ask, but how are they to work with?
There’s no one set way to go about highlighting this in your narrative, but you can showcase this by talking about how you tailored a specific product or service to meet a very specific need. Alternatively, you can also chronicle the process and steps you took to get to an end that was beneficial to your customer. Avoid overstating things to hyperbolic levels, of course, as even a straight narrative is actually compelling in a world where there are companies that skimp on the customer service.
Case studies make for powerful pieces of content that move beyond the normal (and often worn) world of marketing and sales content. Written properly, they even make for perfect content syndication pieces particularly for those potential customers who are further along in their search for solutions to their pain points. The most important things to keep in mind: the customer is the hero, keep it real, and highlight commitment.
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