Case studies are pretty standard in B2B technology marketing. Pretty much every large software company uses them in some format, calling them customer success stories or case studies and weaving them seamlessly into their content marketing strategies. For that reason, some companies may take them for granted or discontinue their case study programs, thinking that case studies are obsolete or that they have enough.
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@cparizo”]Much like good sushi, you can never have enough case studies.[/tweetthis]
Much like good sushi, you can never have enough case studies, and for good reason. I can think of 10 right away:
- Prospects are looking for solutions specific to their industries. As your company expands into new verticals, you’ll need case studies to continue penetrating the market. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-written case study to demonstrate your expertise with widget manufacturing/alternative energy providers/fitness franchises.
- Prospects want to know that the product works. You’ll have customer references for them to talk to, but by the time a prospect contacts you, he or she has already done a lot of homework. A case study may tip the scales in your favor.
- Lets your customers know you appreciate them. Everybody likes to be appreciated, and your customers are no exception. Featuring them in customer success stories or case studies lets you spotlight them as leading problem-solvers in their industries.
- Provides a connection between marketing and sales. It’s no secret that I think marketing and sales teams are like peanut butter and jelly. They work together really well, and when you keep case studies in your pipeline, you’re able to continually speak with marketing: finding customers that have had a lot of success, providing sales with pieces they can use to nurture lukewarm prospects.
- They’re good for SEO purposes. While SEO isn’t a content marketing strategy, it’s still important. A prospect looking for an ERP system for garment manufacturing will view your site if you have a case study from the garment manufacturer that successfully implemented your ERP system and is saving 50 percent annually on materials.
- You can use case studies as more than just PDFs on your website. You can re-purpose them for blog posts, videos, social media – there’s a lot you can do with them.
- You can send out press releases about them. It’s one thing to send out a press release about landing a big customer – but how often will a customer sign off on that? Customers are much more likely to sign off on a case study, and when you post it on your website, you can garner media attention when you post a press release about it.
- They can help buyers overcome initial objections. Take a walk over to the sales team’s area (or pick up the phone; these days, it’s likely that “headquarters” is a tiny office and most employees are working remotely). Find out why a prospect would initially object to your product: is it price? Using something that connects to or is primarily in the cloud? Or just the thought of trying something new? There’s a good chance your sales team will also know a customer who had those same objections and is thrilled with the results. Call your case study writer, introduce her virtually to that customer, and let the magic happen.
- They foster a human image of your product. Blah, blah, WidgetWare 2.0 will save you loads of money, redirect your IT team back to strategic initiatives, and have end users toasting with their morning coffee cups. Every single company says this. It’s in everyone’s marketing materials. But customer success stories bring in those humans. Dave, the CIO, is thrilled that he hasn’t had to ask for more budget for hardware. Mary, the Director of IT, has her team developing apps instead of maintaining the software, and as a result, the entire team is happier. Diane, an end user on the shop floor, can log into the system and pull up a personalized dashboard that lets her know what machine is malfunctioning, and she can see that Jim, who clocked in 15 minutes ago, has the skill set to repair it.
- They let you address the needs of different stakeholders in the buying process. Different people – the IT manager, the CIO – are going to have different concerns. You can address all of those in a case study if you (or your case study writer!) interview multiple people at your customer’s site.
What reasons are you providing when the naysayers push against case studies?