I absolutely love writing case studies! No, seriously. I do.
Why? Because case studies are one of the most valuable pieces of content a company can have on hand and they are EFFECTIVE. If a prospect is on the fence about choosing a solution—yours or your competitor’s, a case study can give them the assurances they are looking for.
The other reason I love writing case studies is that I get to understand my clients’ products and services from the customer’s perspective. Case studies turn products into living, breathing benefits.
Unfortunately, I’m only one person, and I can’t write them for everyone. I wish I could, but I have to be realistic, which brings me to another great thing about case studies. They are one of the most straightforward sales tools to create, even if you’re not the most confident of writers.
You may not have mastered the exquisite turn of phrase, but if you can structure a sentence, you will be okay.
According to the 2018 Content Preferences Survey Report by DemandGen, case studies rank high under preferred content format for buyers and case studies were read by 79% of survey respondents over 12 months.
Let’s consider when people read case studies and why you need them.
When Do Prospects Want Case Studies
The WHEN is easy. Prospects typically read case studies during their evaluation and decision-making stage. They might be trying to decide if your approach is a bit wacky and they are taking a risk if they chose you, or it’s not wacky but simply cutting edge. Showing that customers have succeeded when applying your solution will give them confidence.
Or perhaps your solution is well understood, but your company is not as well known as your market-dominating competitor. You know the old saying—no one ever got fired for buying from IBM. That’s what prospects are worried about.
Will they risk their job or their reputation for taking a chance on you. Well, having a bunch of case studies shows that prospect, you’ve been there done that. Maybe not as often as the market leader, but your clients who did trust you succeeded.
Why Do You Need a Case Study?
Now, what about the WHY? Well, here are five solid reasons for creating a case study.
1. Addressing Multiple Buyer Personas: Companies with multiple buyer personas have a hard time speaking to those prospects’ specific needs in the company marketing collateral and on the website. Which persona are you talking to?
Case studies solve that problem by addressing the needs of specific personas and even narrowing down further to a particular industry. Imagine having a case study that covers every persona and industry you target.
2. Providing Peer Validation: Giving a prospect a case study is like putting them in the room with your best customers to have a chat. I am not a proponent of formulaic case studies that don’t even involve the customer or make your company the hero. If you want your customers to put the time and effort into participating in a case study, then the narrative should position the people who benefited from your solution as the heroes.
3. Telling a Story: You can tell prospects you are the answer to their problems until you are blue in the face. What really moves them is hearing that from someone who struggles with the same issues that your prospect does. That’s what a case study does. It shows them the journey to success through the voice of their peers. They can actually sense what it would be like working with you.
4. Repurposing Content: You can get a lot of traction out of your case studies. Don’t just create a PDF for download and print. Condense what you have in the case study down to the basics and post that on your blog. Searchable content helps with SEO and inbound marketing. From there, once you have their interest, you can lead the reader to the full case study.
Trade publications also love case studies. Especially when they are written in the voice of your customer. If you are a sponsor of your trade association, be sure to speak to them about opportunities to showcase your case studies. Yes, you might have to pay something, but the cost is often less than an ad and is far more effective.
5. Using Case Studies as Trade Show Collateral: Case studies are wonderful handouts to use when talking to prospective customers at the show. Once you know what problem they are struggling with, you can say, “One of our customers was in the same situation, and here’s how we helped them.”
Know your audience. Some people want hard copies, and some people would prefer not to lug all that material around with them. The latter is fantastic because it is a perfect opportunity to collect their contact information to send it to them electronically—even while they are still in your booth.
So that sums up when buyers want case studies, and why you should create them. Now, how do you go about doing it? As I said, I can’t write them for everyone, and a good enough case study is better than nothing.
I’ve created an e-book for manufacturers and engineers looking to write their own case studies in-house. This e-book will guide you in figuring out which customers to showcase and getting them to agree to participate. Then it will tell show you what questions to ask when you interview them, and finally, how to structure your case study.
Please, give it a download now and get that first case finished before your next trade show.