Category: case studies


Case Studies

Case Studies

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Writing Case Studies

Case studies have an advantage over other marketing collateral you might create: they involve a third party proving your message for you. If done correctly, they’re the ultimate credibility builder and deserve to be prominently placed on your website and your other marketing materials.

Case studies are, in essence, customer success stories. So you should write them like any other story. They should have a beginning, middle, and end. The featured client should have a clearly-defined business problem, with obstacles recognizable to your audience. And your company is the hero that swoops in and saves the day.

Keep case studies as simple – and as short – as possible. No more than 750 words is ideal. Use pull quotes, bullet lists, and section headers to make it easier to scan. Instead of stock photos or clipart, ask the client for images that highlight their product or service.

Even if the focus is technical solutions, case studies can still be engaging and compelling – it’s all in the presentation. Charts showing data are great, but don’t go overboard. Ultimately, there should be just enough information to tell the story clearly and succinctly.

David's blog

Credibility Tips and Tricks - Part 1

Without credibility, the best marketing campaign in the world won't make any difference. Last week we looked at the 'why' of credibility. This week, we look at the 'how' -- specific ways you can build trust with your prospects and customers.

Case Studies

Case studies are an effective marketing tool because much like other testimonial tactics, you're letting a third party prove your message for you. Case studies instantly produce more credibility than any marketing collateral you create yourself.

For the most powerful case studies, keep it simple and short. No more than 750 words is ideal. Use pull out quotes and bullet lists to make it easier to scan. Instead of stock photos or clipart, ask your client for images that highlight their product or service.
 

Quotes/Testimonials

They're concise, compelling and extremely useful. A simple quote from your customer is a direct and powerful statement of credibility. Don't be afraid to ask your customers, as most are happy to oblige. Let them speak for you.

Key questions to ask:

  • Who will you ask?
  • How will you ask?
  • Where will you put them?
  • Should you categorize them?

In every marketing activity -- from telemarketing to direct marketing, events, tradeshows, and online endeavors -- consider where a testimonial might fit.

For example, instead of using stock images for your tradeshow booth, print customer quotes on posters or directly on your backdrop. If you're planning an upgrade to your website, integrate quotes into all your pages, not just a running list of testimonials confined to one page.

Since most prospects start in skeptical mode, use testimonials to your advantage. Open a quote with something like "I didn't think we could actually decrease production line overhead until..."
 

Visuals

This is marketing after all, and visuals are important. Along with your own logo and images, utilize client logos and images. They don't need to be famous because they're already known to others in their industry -- your prospects. This, combined with testimonials and case studies, will increase the value of your third party references.
 

Articles

Well-written articles will position you as the expert in your prospect's industry and show how you can help them solve their challenges. Many marketers hesitate on this one, knowing that the experts in their company rarely have the the time or skills to create an effective piece.

Outsource is not a dirty word. Hiring a professional writer for your marketing pieces is an excellent solution to not only take the burden off your internal resources, but to impress your audience with a first-class presentation.

You'll need to gather your internal minds to decide on the topics and framework, then let your freelance writer interview, research and write.

Where do I get ideas for articles?
  • Most importantly -- from your own clients and prospects. What are they asking you? What are their concerns? Have conversations that clue you in to what your targets really want to know.
  • Look to industry groups and associations. What are they writing and blogging about? Check out First Research (www.firstresearch.com) for call preparation reports and great information on industry issues and challenges.
What should I write about?
  • Business-builder topics such as:
  • Managing your business
  • How-to articles (such as how to market in a down economy)
  • Book reviews. Check with the publisher to see if you can integrate some points from the book in your personal pieces
  • 'Tips and Tricks' pieces

And when you invest in professionally-written materials like articles or whitepapers, be sure to use them liberally.

Next week, part 2 of this post, where we look at more ways to boost credibility, including newsletters and multimedia.
 

David's blog

The Credibility Factor

Effective marketing involves much more than overpriced ads and flashy design. There's one important element that's so behind-the-scenes that many companies overlook it completely: the credibility factor.

Credibility Defined

  1. Capable of being believed; believable: a credible statement
  2. Corthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy: a credible witness

These are some powerful words -- capable, believable, confidence, trustworthy -- and all are necessary ingredients for a successful marketing recipe.
 

Credibility on Any Budget

To market effectively, a company must connect with its target audience. This connection has very little to do with how large or small the company is, and everything to do with the company's credibility.

It's no secret that businesses and individuals buy from those they trust. If you've established your credibility, you've opened the door and given people a reason to listen to you. Without it, all the marketing money in the world can't save you.

Let's think big for a moment. Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart are major players in their respective markets. When they talk, we take notice. Why? Because they've established the credibility it takes for people to instantly recognize their brand and feel safe buying their products or services.

Smaller companies may never reach this level of mass brand recognition and instead need to rely on credibility that comes through other messages, such as:

  • Your experience
  • Your expertise
  • Your service
  • Your customers

This is not a 'second best' effort to establish credibility. Within B2B marketing, the talking about the positive experiences of your customers is one of the strongest messages you can send.

To establish credibility in your marketing plan, make sure you:

Plan, plan, plan

Knowing precisely how you'll execute the credibility factor in your marketing is as important as the overall strategy itself.

Use it everywhere

Don't limit this valuable message to a page on your website. Use it wherever your customers might see it.

Without credibility, your marketing efforts are substantially weakened. Next week, we'll look at specific tips and tricks you can use to boost your company's credibility.
 

David's blog