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Case Studies as a Great Marketing Tool

26 April 2017 by Denise Taylor

 

Demonstrate your business expertise by case example

Every day your company makes its products, sells it services, and goes about its business.  You and your team solve your customers’ problems, ease their pains and generally make them feel happy about doing business with you.  But how often do you take a step back, and analyse what it is you have achieved on each individual contract or project? 

Producing a case study is the ideal opportunity to carry out such an analysis, and by doing this you are creating a piece of valuable marketing collateral that can be used in numerous ways to raise the profile of your business, evaluate projects, motivate staff, and position your business as leaders and experts in your sector and beyond.

 

Six ways to use case studies to help marketing your business

 

  1. Marketing collateral for your website
    A series of case studies is great collateral for your website.  When planned and executed properly, each one will focus on an area of your business or its processes, and will give your customers and prospects a very good understanding of what you offer and what you are able to do for customers.  But more than this, case studies provide readers with stories they can relate to and identify with.  If you know your market well enough, you will understand the pain points your customers face. Address these in your case studies, and customers and prospects are more likely to pick up the phone to enquire about the solutions you can offer.  A bonus is that, when you upload regular case studies to your website, you are uploading fresh and original content, which, of course, the search engines love when it comes to search engine optimisation.  Bear this in mind when you are planning  content and your case study stories.
     
  2. A tool for your sales team
    What better way for your sales team to demonstrate your company’s expertise than to be able to tell your prospects great stories about what you are offering, and what added value you bring to the table.  As with any sales transaction, the buyer wants to know what the benefits are to them. Case studies are the perfect vehicle for this. They can be incorporated into portfolios (print-based or digital), and as material that can be left with the customer or prospect to peruse at their leisure. This gives your sales team another reason to call the customer or prospect back and follow up them without appearing to be aggressively “selling”.
     
  3. Press material
    Case study material can easily be reworked into a press release. In fact, some B2B and trade magazines prefer to take the copy in a case study format. This extends your reach beyond your website and sales team to reach a larger proportion of your target audience. A skilled PR professional with the right contacts is able to help you achieve this.
     
  4. Content for social media
    Any material you produce as marketing collateral is basically content. A good content strategy and plan will enable you  to produce a wealth of rich material that can be mined for different platforms and channels, and turning this content into case studies, press releases, blogs and social media content are the various elements of this. To producer social media content,  all you need to do is pull out the salient and key points and phrases. Remember to think about your key messages too at this point. Use teasers and links on social media to point to your case studies on your website, and perhaps to material on other websites and blogs talking about the same topic.  Remember, be social. You have the depth of knowledge and expertise to produce a case study on the work you have done for a client, but there will be other material also available about that particular topic that you could also use to demonstrate this knowledge and expertise. Content curation is a great form of marketing and audiences love it when interesting and informative stories are shared. 
     
  5. A platform for promoting thought leadership
    Use the lessons learned from the projects you and your team have worked on to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise on the subject(s).  As well as producing and distributing the case study to your target audiences, you can also use the subject matter to talk about the problems, solutions and benefits in the various forums that are now available in the digital age. LinkedIn is a great platform for B2B discussions, and there are groups on virtually all topics. Why not start a new discussion, or join in a conversation that will give you the opportunity to talk about your recent work. Remember to do this in a social and informative way rather than overtly selling what it is you do. If prospects like what you are saying, and you can build and develop the relationships, the rest will fall into place. Don’t forget networking in the real world too.  Everyone loves a good story, and they love finding solutions to their problems.  It’s worth spending some time developing the art of story-telling. It’s great to practise your elevator pitch, of course, but imagine the attention you can command if you have an engaging story to tell. At the very least, you could use it as a conversation starter.
     
  6. As an internal communications tool
    Unless you have a brilliant and effective internal communications strategy that is effectively implemented, your staff are likely to be the last to know about some of the key projects your company has been working on. But treat your staff as though they are one of your key target audiences, and you will find that you have a workforce that is motivated and proud to be working for your company and who will be ambassadors for your business and its products. In effect, you will be boosting the work of your sales and marketing teams with just a little thought and effort. Produce a strategy and plan for disseminating information about the projects the company is working on, share the wins and successes, and talk about what this means for them as employees of your company. This doesn’t need to involve a great deal of extra work. An internal communications strategy can comprise team briefings or meetings, a forum where staff can go to find out more information about the company and its current and recently completed projects, and perhaps an internal newsletter monthly or bi-monthly. 

 

Structure and content

There is a general perception that case studies are highly technical because of their depth and detail, and while this can be true of technical companies produced for technical audiences, all case studies essentially have a structured format that any business can follow and then adapt. 

  • Situation – two or three paragraphs that summarise the whole project. This gives the reader an idea of the topic and what will be covered, and, if written well, will encourage them to read the whole case study.
     
  • Problem or Issue – outline what it was your client was trying to achieve in engaging your company to provide the services (or solutions) it needed.  This can sometimes be sensitive information, so bear this in mind when talking about the problems and issues.
     
  • Solution(s) – talk about the solutions your company provided and the process that was used to achieve a successful outcome of the project. The information may be technical so strike a balance between giving the right level of technical detail, but at the same time steering clear of jargon and acronyms that audiences outside your industry wouldn’t understand.
     
  • Benefits – highlight the key benefits that your customer has enjoyed because you were chosen to complete the project or contract. This is where you convey your key messages, but avoid being overtly sales-oriented in your tone and language.  Your readers will be intelligent enough to put two and two together and make the relevant connections. It’s implicit in a case study that your business does possess the depth and breadth of expertise required to have completed the project. 

 

How long is long enough?

Before the advent of the Internet and the myriad platforms now available for us to share information, B2B case studies were typically 1200 to 1500 words in length.  These days, shorter case studies are acceptable for certain platforms as long as they contain all the salient points and information needed to convey the key messages.  Another option would be to write the longer case study for the back end of your website where prospects can go to download the full version, and at the same time, having an edited version for the media or for the front end of your website.

 

Gaining Approval

A case study, by its nature, involves you writing about work you have done for a customer. Don’t assume that they will be OK with you publicising this without their permission. Make sure that you get the appropriate levels of approval, preferably in writing. For most types of business, this is not usually an issue, but there are some companies where customer information is highly sensitive and confidential. You could make the information anonymous if you are just posting the case studies on your website, but this probably wouldn’t be enough if you wanted to distribute the case study to the media. 

 

Extra Marks for Presentation

Use eye-catching and informative photographs and images with your case study and be consistent in the presentation style and layout. It is worth investing in having a professionally designed template produced which reflects your company’s branding and corporate identity. Plan ahead, and organise a photo shoot while you are working on the project. You will then have plenty of images available later when you are writing up the case study and crafting it for other marketing channels. 

 

Draft in the Experts

If you have both the skills and time to plan, write, and craft your case studies that is great, but outsourcing this to experts will save you time, and, in the long run, money. A good PR agency will also be more able to get your material out to your wider target audiences using their knowledge, and network of media contacts.

Bridge has been producing great case studies for its clients for the past 15 years.  We have expertise in automotive, aviation, IT, manufacturing, logistics and engineering.  This is one of our solutions that will take away some of the pain of your marketing activity, leaving you to get on with the business of running your company. 

 

Contact us on 024 7652 0025 and talk to a member of our team about what’s involved in producing a case study and how much it will cost.  We’re sure you will reap the benefits.

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