There’s a certain quid pro quo that comes with marketing departments and case studies. If your customer agrees to be featured and offer some kind of testimonial, it’s usually in recognition of the great service or experience you’ve already provided.
And if you really recognize the value and power of case studies, it seems only fair to say yes when your firm is being asked to be in another firm’s case study.
Being the subject of a case study doesn’t just have to be an act of kindness and generosity, however. It can also be a way to build your own brand in a subtle way.
In the business-to-business (B2B) sector, for instance, everyone is a supplier of some kind, and everyone is also someone else’s customer. That means the potential for case studies exists almost everywhere, because new buyers are so interconnected in certain industries.
Of course, if you’re willing to let your firm be profiled in a case study, the ultimate objective is to put your vendor in a good light and show why other firms might want to consider their products and services. At the same time, though, the case study might get posted and distributed in a wide range of channels to a considerable audience.
Those who read the case study may not represent your target market, but they might include people who could pass the case study on to someone who is. That means it’s worth taking the time to make sure the spotlight that’s put on your firm shows only the best of what there is to see. It will then serve to reinforce all the other work you’ll be doing creating and managing your own content assets with the help of Marketing Cloud.
Let’s walk through the most common elements of case studies to see how you make sure this happens:
The introduction to most cases includes some kind of background details about the nature of the customer’s business, the size of the firm, its locations and so on. Even if the customer in question is well known in an industry, what’s most often put in this section is pure “boilerplate” -- the canned description that the company uses in all its marketing materials.
In fact, when customers are interviewed for a case study they’re not often asked about this area at all. After all, their vendors already know who they are, right? This is an overlooked opportunity, however. Savvy marketers should realize this is an avenue to “reintroduce” their firm to the world.
Think about common perceptions the market may have that need to be corrected, or new advancements that deserve greater awareness. Some examples could include:
Case studies tend to have pretty straightforward plots. A company is struggling in a certain area, and overcomes it by connecting with the firm that’s producing the case study. Again, however, there is more to the story you can tell if you’re the one being profiled.
Many companies will explain the pain point they were experiencing, whether it was an issue with productivity, the onerousness of a particular process and so on. What they might forget to share (at least in detail) is why that pain point was detrimental to their core mission or key priorities.
For instance, if you’re talking about a productivity challenge, you could frame it in the context of working for an organization that has decided to add more features to your own products, and how delivering this extra value to your market means being productive is more critical than ever. That might sound like a subtle difference, but it accomplishes two things. It makes the firm writing the case study look even better because of how huge the challenge was, while also gently marketing your firm’s brag-worthy news to the wider world.
This is where many case studies simply state which if their products and services were brought in to help. There’s often little mention of the customer here at all, but there could be.
Suggest including details about why or how your firm came to make this particular selection. Maybe it was based on some research you conducted, which could show the kind of data-driven thinking that’s a hallmark of your brand. If you chose the supplier because you heard about it through your own customers, say that -- it shows how well you’re connected to your industry and are keeping your ear to the ground.
And if you did more than simply buy something but helped set up how it was deployed, suggest weaving in those details too, which will demonstrate the collaborative and consultative nature of your team.
This is the big payoff in case studies from a marketing standpoint -- the area where you serve up the most impressive statistics possible about time saved, costs reduced or other big wins. Again, this is all about making the customer writing the case study look good, but it can also make your firm look good.
As you discuss the results, tie them back to your firm’s mission and what it will mean for its ability to execute on a particular strategy, or maybe how it means you can bring more value back to your own customers.
In a really good case study, the customer being profiled may suggest they’ll be looking at other products and services in their supplier’s portfolio. That’s only one future-oriented statement to make, though. Bring it all together in this last section by talking about the vision, values or specific activities you’ll be focused on as an organization now that you’ve overcome this challenge.
If all goes well, you should wind up with a case study that’s so powerful it could have been designed as one of our own content marketing assets. And if that’s the case, maybe you’ll want to help share it, or repurpose some of the talking points for the blogs, e-mail messages, ebooks or other things you’ll be managing with Marketing Cloud.