Ah, the good old fashioned B2B case study. Safe, reliable... not particularly exciting. The Vauxhall Vectra of the marketing world.
But wait - Case studies CAN be interesting.
(And no, they don't have to be formulaic and shoved into a *problem, solution, results* template every time, dammit.)
But more importantly, done well, B2B case studies are powerful sales tools that can dramatically increase your marketing results.
We've just lost the art of writing good ones.
Here are five tips to revitalize your approach and win back some of those disenchanted customers.
1. Dig deep: find the story
Before diving into your case study, ask yourself: where are the gritty, visceral parts of this story that will poke my prospects in the heart and gut (while yanking persistently at their pockets)?
In other words, the bits that speaks to them at an emotional level?
Too many B2B marketers underestimate the personal value a buyer gains from a purchase. They imagine faceless organizations making decisions based purely on fact, logic and business value.
So they write case studies like instruction manuals - or worse, glorified adverts.
Yet, it's the people within those organizations that make the purchasing decisions, and they're just as influenced by emotion as every day consumers.
In fact, a Google study of 3000 B2B purchasers showed them as being more so...
"B2B purchasers are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value - such as opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice - in their business purchase decision. They are 8x more likely to pay a premium for comparable products and services when personal value is present."
The only way to achieve that in your case studies is to liberally sprinkle excitement around the benefits of your product or service... the promotion, the smashed targets, the kudos, the going home on time for once.
Listen closely to the customers whose lives you've improved, and find out what your product REALLY means to them.
Then write what they say.
2. Cut, prune, edit: respect your readers' time
Write for the time-starved and the frantically busy. That's all of us, right? Leave out the features, the company history, the 'how they found' you - all the meaningless and clumsy padding you think needs to go in, but really, REALLY doesn't.
Because when you take a scalpel and surgically remove the deadwood, you're left with crisp, clear case studies that crackle with intrigue... case studies that are irresistible to your target audience.
But don't just take my word for it - a hefty 66% of B2B marketers say case studies are THE most effective means of attracting their target audiences.
Make yours better than average (not difficult), and I'll bet my sweet potato you'll join them.
You can still reference the problem, solution, results arc; but craft it as a story (or even a conversation), and not a case study. Keep this in mind while you're writing and you'll automatically weed out the flab.
3. A sure way to persuade cynical customers
When your sales team meet with potential customers, a sizzling case study adds clout to their patter, that gently prizes open your customers' confidence (much like a hearty gin and tonic).
Imagine a target-smashing case study for the CFO. A time-crushing belter for the Head of Resources. The more case studies you have at your fingertips, the more opportunities you have to connect with as wide a cross section of your target audience as possible.
And, tapping into the personal side of your customers' success - avoiding the uninspiring templates of yore - helps prospects connect on a level that gets them right where it counts.
4. Make like a buffalo: respect the herd mentality
Simply put: people no longer buy things without checking out what their peers have to say on the matter.
I mean, when was the last time you didn't consult the reviews on Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Ebay or Amazon? So why should B2B be any different?
Remember: EVERYONE wants social proof that something's going them to get the results they seek. And hearing it from peeps who aren't on the payroll?
- Case studies humanize your brand. They put your solutions into context and allow prospects to see how you solved actual problems for real people.
- Case studies are your customer success stories. They directly influence your prospects, attract high-quality leads, build trust and boost revenue. Fact.
- Case studies provide third party endorsement: The most powerful way to motivate potential customers, show them how you can help and why you are their best choice.
5. Case studies are evergreen
Just as a conifer tree stays lush and green throughout the year, and into the following season, good case studies retain their value, year after year. As opposed to, say, a blog or fleeting social media posts.
And once you've got all those lovely juicy case studies in your arsenal, you have acres of content to repurpose; reaching an even wider an audience than you ever thought possible.
From dissecting your case studies into blog posts; pulling out quotes for social; crafting them into beautiful sales materials; spinning them into press releases and media-friendly features; to optimizing the content for your website.
Case studies offer a deep well of opportunity for revving up your sales cycle.
But, if you're like a lot of marketers right now, and skipping over case studies in favor of 'new and shiny' marketing tactics, you could be denying yourself busloads of hungry new customers.
Isn't it time to revive the lost art of case studies?
Rethink your approach. Build yourself a library of revenue boosting case studies. Educate early stage prospects. Drive sales - and prove why you are the number one person for the job.
There ain't no better way.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Gather Creative blog.