The odds are that whatever sector you're in, your company or organisation uses case studies and testimonials as part of its marketing collateral and sales process. The question is, are you using yours effectively?
At gigCMO, we believe that success stories/case studies are the single most powerful piece of marketing collateral that marketing experts have. Some say it's only relevant towards the end of the sales process, we think it's helpful at all stages of the sales funnel.
When we talk about case studies, we're talking about a structured approach that focuses less on what you did and more on how your actions solved a problem for the client. We believe that by placing the client at the heart of the story, companies can generate trust, show authenticity, and create an empathetic sales process that makes conversion rates significantly higher.
When creating a powerful case study, your team should consider the following:
- We help companies/individuals like this
- Solve problems like this
- With results like these
That allows the client to place themselves at the heart of the story:
- I am a company like this
- With a problem like this
- I would like a result like that
Remember who you're talking to
Typically, case studies focus predominantly on what the company itself did for the client; we see it most commonly with tech companies, where they get incredibly excited about the details of what they did and as a result, forget the purpose of a case study. They talk about the technology and analytical tools that they deployed but forget to say what the problem was and what they achieved for the client.
The best success focuses on those business bottom line impacts (which can be technology-based). However, they need to focus less on the product or service and more on the results for the customer.
It's also important to remember that the person you're communicating your message to might not be an expert in the details of what you do. The likelihood is that the individual in charge of buying is business-focused. They primarily want to know if you can deliver results. That opens the door to explaining how you did it.
Case studies help develop strong sales training
Case studies can also be instrumental for effective sales training by providing employees with critical examples of what you do and how you do it at its best. They offer a tangible example of how you work and give the sales team a library of factual data through which they can deliver your message. It is always best when you can get your customers to deliver your message for you.
While many sales techniques employ the idea of showing a customer why you're better than a competitor, more advanced processes provide information that invites the customer to decide for themselves. To say - 'company X is an excellent company, but this is what our customers say about us. Here are some examples and you can decide what's best for you' - is a much more sophisticated approach. It's appealing, engaging, builds trust and removes any objections early on.
How do you get great case studies?
The most successful sales organisations we see sell to the case study. That might mean negotiating on price, for example, in return for valuable feedback. You may establish that a client is happy to provide a named case study with quotes or perhaps a joint press release.
You may find that they are prepared to name the company but anonymise the quotes. They might prefer for it to be anonymous but that you can mention the industry. Ideally, it's better to name the client as it adds weight to the testimonial. However, in specific industries, it's common not to - for example, in financial services.
It is also good to remember that you may be able to extrapolate more than one case study on more complex projects by basing them on different result/metrics. In turn, those case studies can be used for various marketing campaigns or to suit particular market segments and across platforms as part of an omnichannel marketing approach. For example, a graphic advert on social media carries much more punch when with a tagline like: 'Find out how company X reduced costs by 20%' than 'we can improve your costs'.
Once you have the correct information and are clear on the message you want to convey, the crucial piece of the puzzle is making sure you do it well. That means everything from the way you write a case study to the graphics you use and having the proper SEO and PPC in place to support it. It's also imperative that it's authentic - ensuring that you do not manipulate information so that the client might contradict it if they see it, which would undermine your credibility.
At its best, a case study is a customer story, not your story. Where most companies fall down is in thinking that they need to talk about themselves, but if you let your client be the hero, you don't need to focus on yourself because the testimonial will speak for itself.