Let’s talk content marketing. It is essential to any B2B marketer for customer engagement, lead generation, thought leadership, nurture programs, and even attracting the right employees. Why?
Today’s professional is consistently interrupted by unwanted offers through telesales, direct mailers, unsolicited emails, online advertisements, and even text messages. How many times a day do you ignore a call, delete an email without reading it, or close a browser window to avoid an online advertising attack. Marketing is only successful when it is relevant to the audience.
Businesses need to have various types of content available for the different stages of buyer engagement. Datasheets, white papers, eBooks, case studies, infographics, and blogs are all pieces that can be used to help the buyer understand how your technology solves their problem.
While all these pieces have their place, the content piece that undoubtedly attracts the most interest from customers, prospects, and even employees is … drumroll, please … the case study.
Why the case study? Case studies are real, unique, and relatable. A well-written case study tells a story about how your organization understood the customer’s market, business challenge, and delivered a solution that exceeded their goals. Let’s face it the “Bs” in B2B buyers are people that appreciate learning about another organization’s experience. While you are building credibility with industry insights, case studies also are a proven tool to generate qualified leads.
Now that you know why, here’s a few details on how. For a case study to be successful, it must contain the following elements:
- A good story about a positive outcome,
- Concise information on the engagement, and
- Measurable results or statistics.
The first element of a successful case study is finding a good story to tell. Remember the adage, “Facts tell. Stories sell.” It is true.
It can be a challenge to reduce the technical jargon and refocus your subject matter expert on the business problem solved. You can’t remove what makes this technology astounding, but you can, and should, make it relatable and easily digestible. Save the deep technology dive for the whitepaper.
Before you jump into the interview and writing ask yourself these questions …
- What business challenges did the technology solve?
- Were there surprises along the way?
- Did you learn any lessons that would be helpful for others?
How do you find the right story to tell? Reach out to your sales team to inquire about their customer success stories. Sales teams are often more than happy to share stories from the front line, and if they seem too busy to share, a small incentive can sometimes change their mind. Time is money — especially in sales.
Always remember that a customer must approve the usage of their name in the case study. It takes a few extra steps, but it is worth it. Customer quotes are invaluable. If there are confidentiality reasons that prevent you from naming the organization—don’t despair, an unnamed case study is still a powerful marketing tool.
Start with the business challenge. Step back in time and try to remember the catalyst for the project. Were there time requirements? Was everyone onboard with the initiative? Setting the stage will help others understand the circumstances that led to the decision to purchase your solution.
Focus on the steps taken to solve the issue. This is where you should outline the technology deployed and explain how the deployment progressed. Was it a straightforward methodology? Were there factors that made the implementation more complex? Did everything go as planned? By describing the steps taken, and the technology used to solve the customer’s challenge you have the opportunity to highlight both your product and often your personnel.
What were the results? It’s important to include both the details of the challenges overcome and benefits the customer received by implementing your solution. These results can demonstrate a cost or time savings. A statistic that shows a return on investment (ROI) is invaluable. If there are next steps or plans, be sure to mention those. It will illustrate that the customer is satisfied and already has plans to continue doing business with your company.
Once you have a case study, how do you share it with your potential and existing customers? Stay tuned for our next blog with ideas on how to leverage a case study for lead generation and nurturing.