Following my recent blog about why B2B case studies are invaluable marketing tools, I was contacted by a company who wanted me to review their current case studies and help them research and write some new ones.
Their existing collateral was good but, as with a lot of companies, the case studies had been written by their salespeople.
A common case study mistake
Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for salespeople and their skills and agree that they’re a vital part of the case study process. After all, they’re the ones who will have built up a rapport with the customer, know what the problem was, why they recommended the solution and what the end result was.
But they’re not marketers or copywriters, so why expect them to write a case study? Why take them away from their valuable sales time to do something that is probably out of their comfort zone?
Unfortunately, the answer is that many companies don’t understand the value of a carefully crafted case study, may not have the in-house marketing resources or expertise or are reluctant to pay an experienced copywriter or PR agency to write the copy for them.
Why put the effort into a case study?
Case studies are a great way to showcase your products and services, show how you’ve solved a client’s problems and generate leads. They provide social proof that you can deliver what you say you can. But only if they’re written in an engaging way.
So here are some tips on how to structure a good case study that generates sales.
How to write a B2B case study that sells
Title – Don’t try to be clever with your headline. The reader needs to understand quickly what the case study is about. If you’ve saved the customer money or increased sales, include the figures in the headline.
Introduction - This should be a summary of the case study. Who the customer is, what their problem was and how you helped them. You want to tell enough of the story for those short of time to understand the key points, but for the majority of your target audience to want to know more and read on.
The problem – What was your customer’s pain point? What were they trying to solve or improve?
Did they contact you directly and if so, what prompted them to get in touch? Had they worked with you before, seen that you’d solved a similar problem or were you recommended to them?
Your solution - How you helped. What process did you use to find the right solution? This may be a site survey, review of your customer’s procedures or product testing. Did you face any challenges, identify the solution immediately, or maybe you offered a couple of options?
You want to show how you helped the customer but also let potential customers visualise how you could help them in a similar situation.
Success – What were the results? This is the most important part of the case study. What was the outcome? Explain the benefits to the customer. Did you save money, increase productivity, generate sales or protect workers?
Quotes – try to include a quote from your customer and avoid repeating what you’ve already explained. You can include additional information or benefits in the quote, why the customer chose you, what were the important qualities they were looking for. Did they speak to other companies?
How to make your case study engaging
Tell a story – Your case study should inspire and captivate the reader, not sound like a marketing or sales pitch. The story should be about your customer. The aim is to show how your products or services solved a problem or achieved a goal. You want the reader to empathise with the customer and picture you helping them in a similar way.
Concise and easy to read - Make it simple and easy to read, don’t bore the reader. You want to demonstrate how your products and services help companies like theirs and to educate them.
If bullet points will help get the main details across, then use them.
Avoid exaggeration - People are turned off by phrases like “world class, expert engineers and market-leading service.” Stick to the facts.
Visually appealing – Use before and after shots of projects, infographics or other images to make the case study visually appealing and to break up text or outline specific information.
Write for your audience – Imagine you were talking to someone face to face. Use words and terminology your target audience uses and understands, not technical phrases or industry jargon.
Call to action – if the case study is being published on your website, being used in an email campaign, newsletter or as a promotional teaser, make sure you include a clear call to action that links to your product, service or path you want the reader to take.
Invaluable marketing content
Case studies are an invaluable part of your content marketing strategy. But remember, always read, re-read, edit and proofread before publishing.
Poorly written case studies full of spelling mistakes, poor grammar and too much narrative look bad and will make people question your professionalism
Get them right and you have something that can be repurposed on websites, in email campaigns, in product and company brochures, advertisements, videos and in sales material.
Need help with your B2B case studies? I’ve researched and written hundreds of case studies and understand how to write engaging content for the trade press, websites, sales promotions, email campaigns and videos.