Anyone who's worked with me knows I've got a bee in my bonnet regarding case studies. But that's simply because many B2B companies fail to make the most of these invaluable marketing tools.
To put it simply, prospective customers care more about seeing how your product or service has been used than what you say you can do or how great your product is.
Why case studies are important
When you buy something personal, hire someone to carry out work at your home, or look at local schools, nine times out of ten, you’ll ask friends for recommendations, read online reviews, or speak to colleagues.
A B2B product or service is no different.
People like to see how your product or service helped someone and value impartial endorsements. This social proof of what you can do helps build trust in your brand and company.
Still not convinced you should be using case studies as part of your B2B marketing strategy?
Here are a few more benefits:
Benefits of B2B case studies
Telling a story – People want to read about real-life cases, not sales messages. Case studies allow you to demonstrate how your products and services can be used and how they can help customers. They bring what you’re selling to life and show how it can be used successfully in a real-life scenario.
Messages can be adapted for different target audiences. For example, if you want to target FMs, you could write about how your product seamlessly connected to existing equipment, or for CEOs, it may be how you helped to put the company ahead of the competition.
Target different sectors – Case studies are a great way to target specific sectors. People relate better to examples from their own industry. Of course, you can write about how you helped a “leading hospital” or “major manufacturing company,” but being able to name the hospital or manufacturer gives your story greater appeal.
You’re also able to show potential customers that you have experience in their sector, understand their industry’s specific needs, and can solve their problems.
Cost-effective - Case studies are relatively inexpensive compared to other forms of marketing, such as advertising and videos. Yes, you need to invest some time in researching and writing them, but once written, you can use the information in so many different ways: on your website, in blog posts, email campaigns, brochures, and infographics.
Case studies can be used in introductory letters and presentations, to overcome objections, as part of follow-up discussions, and as a reference. They’re also a great sales tool. They provide the validation a lot of potential customers need before purchasing.
Unique content - You may work in an industry where companies have similar products or services to you. Your case studies are unique to your company and help set you apart from your competitors.
When you add these benefits to the mix, the argument for why you should use case studies as part of your marketing strategy is pretty clear.
Case study dos and don'ts
There is an art to writing an engaging case study and some clear dos and don’ts.
Do make it real – don’t write for the sake of it. “We sold this to X company” or “we installed this in Y’s warehouse” are just claims and not newsworthy. The benefits of how you helped X company save £320 a month or how you helped protect Y company’s workers by installing your system make the case study real and worth showcasing.
Do get approval – Always get your customer’s final approval on what you’ve written before you use it for external marketing. If you don’t, you could lose them as a customer.
Don’t use jargon – D-ring, adjustable countersink, and ATB may be common words and phrases for you, but that doesn’t mean everyone understands them. Write for your audience in their own words.
A rubber duck will undoubtedly mean something entirely different for your customer if you work in the building sector.
Don’t send your release out to all and sundry – if you’re distributing your case study to the trade press, make sure you send it to journalists and publications relevant to the subject matter. A medical publication won’t thank you for a release about someone using your power drills.
It really is simple
Case studies are evidence and prove that your products and services helped a company and delivered results. So next time you sell a product, install a system, or provide a service, ask your customer if you can write a case study about your work with them.
I’ve written hundreds of case studies in the past and find that most companies are happy to support your business by providing a testimonial. Now and then, a company will decline, but most understand the value of a case study and recognise that they'll also benefit from the story.
All you need to do is ask; it’s as simple as that.
If you don't have time to follow up on potential stories or need help researching and writing case studies, let’s talk. Please email me at email@example.com or give me a call. I'm here to help.