By Erik Frantzen, President, Nurture Marketing
What is the most compelling marketing content that you can offer to prospects and clients to obtain their confidence when they are deciding to work with you instead of one of your competitors? New buyers consider your own descriptions of the services you provide – no matter how well-written or illustrated – to be “salesy,” i.e., purely subjective. The majority have also already assessed the “meat” of your offerings and experience before they are ready to take final steps to engage you, Instead, these prospects and customers will assess your capabilities by seeking stories of how you can successfully do for them what you’ve done for other clients like them.
So what are the best tools to offer true third-party credibility for your services that your core marketing content – the information you publish on your website and your collateral – cannot? Case studies. Case studies tell your current and previous clients about positive outcomes for your existing clients derived from working uniquely with you.
Businesses have tapped into the power of compelling business-to-business storytelling, filled with rich data, true, objective, customer feedback, combined with examples of laser-focused solutions, for the last 100 years. The Harvard Business School started using the case method in 1924 by giving real-life company scenarios to students, then asking them to analyze the situations and propose solutions as if they were managers. It gave these students “not just skills and abstract knowledge, but also a solid understanding of the outside world.”
Your case studies, like the Harvard examples, should provide your prospective clients with much more than a breakdown of what you do. You also need to offer the perspective on how your solutions have delivered value to others—namely, other clients in the “outside world.” These cases can help decision-makers commit to your services by offering verified successes. This increases the buyer’s confidence in you, ultimately validating their purchase decision. According to Forbes, 73% of B2B buyers use case studies to make purchasing decisions, with “B2B buyers” preferring “prescriptive and predictive content more than anything else.”
Case studies are, in essence, customer success stories. So you should write them like any other story, with a beginning, middle, and end. The featured client should have a clearly defined business problem, with obstacles recognizable to audiences in the same vertical industries, or same roles, or with the same business-technology challenges. Then, with the perspectives of both “characters” in your story – you and your services and that of your clients ‒ your company is positioned as the hero who swoops in and saves the day with business-transformative solutions.
Keep case studies as simple – and as short – as possible. No more than 750 words is ideal. Use bulleted lists and section headers to make them easier to scan, and grab a key quote from the case study and highlight it in large text in the final piece. Instead of stock photos or clipart, ask, if possible and appropriate, your existing clients for images that highlight the product or service that you’ve delivered for them.
Even if the focus is technology, case studies on your solutions for clients 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 in your case studies to tell the story clearly and succinctly. The most important component is focusing on the “voice” of your existing clients to ensure third-party credibility. Remember, decision-makers are most interested in what you do for clients who have used your services, from their perspectives, not your narrative, and how that relates to their current needs. Forbes indicated that among buyers, an “overwhelming majority (93%) want content that has less of a sales pitch.” Your goal then should, be to “ghost-write” to the best of your ability the perspective of your existing clients, align it with your capability to solve problems, and use that to make buyers feel comfortable with the most objective possible narrative about what you’ve delivered.
Case studies can also be dynamic, evolving with technology. Video is an excellent tool to showcase a customer’s satisfaction by allowing them to directly share their story (and praise) with your captive audience. Entrepreneur wrote: “According to Google, 70 percent of B2B customers watch videos on their path to purchase”, and “video case studies are a particularly effective vehicle for B2B marketing.” As a Harvard Business School professor, following a “review of 34 million customer/content interactions online”, noted, “B2B buyers’ single biggest motivator” is “learning how others are using a product. These buyers aren’t interested in hypotheticals or promises. They want to see outcomes – attributes you can put on display in a case-study video.”
Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, and other videoconferencing solutions can easily capture brief customer testimonials, or customer interviews to create “video case studies” for your website and social feeds/accounts. These perspectives and potential interviews have to be guided, but they can be simple ways of setting up and obtaining rich video content directly from clients without significant setup time. Sales enablement tools such as Brainshark also give you capabilities to develop either interview-based video case studies or explainer videos with images and narration. You can also turn to professionally shot videos when possible and appropriate. Pro video can be costly and time-consuming, usually requiring scripts and/or storyboards, location shooting, and editing and other post-production. But, if done well, they look great and increase engagement rates. Any of these can serve as components of a vibrant rich media case study library – both from the perspective of being compelling testimonials “straight from the horse’s mouth” about your successful relationship with your existing clients, as well as visually for your website’s content collection.
However you choose to tell your success stories, it’s clear that your potential clients want to hear them. When nearly three-quarters of B2B buyers say that case studies inform purchase decisions, you can’t neglect the opportunity to use these great tools to share proof of your expertise. A business storytelling method that began 100 years ago still yields tremendous positive impact on building your sales today. Done correctly, case studies are essential reputation-builders that prospects actively seek and review, proving to be among the best elements of your marketing outreach.
This is part of a series by Nurture Marketing to help you develop and grow trusted relationships with prospects and customer through digital engagement.Contact Nurture Marketing
Please contact us to learn more about our solutions for developing compelling marketing and sales content for the Partner Channel, including case studies and more. You may reach us by calling (732) 636-1001, Extension 27, or by visiting the CONTACT PAGE of our website.