Do Case Studies really help you win top clients? That’s what the evidence shows. I’m reminded how they helped me acquire the third largest mass transit system in North America as a customer – in only a few days.
Earlier in my career I was hired as a contract Marketing Director (and Salesperson) for a small software firm trying to attract enterprise customers. After a successful tradeshow effort, I still needed a way to generate leads throughout the year. So, I convinced our CEO to increase our marketing budget and create a modern website. My plan was to include the Case Studies I’d written.
The Toronto Transit Commission contacted me only a few days after the site was launched. Not only did they make a large purchase, their decision-maker commented on how the Case Studies had helped. Now I specialize in writing case studies for technology firms.
Why Case Studies are the Most Effective Sales Content
Did you know case studies have an 83% completion rate compared to all others? DocSend conducted a study where they tracked 34 million interactions with content. They learned that professional case studies are the most popular type of content – by a long shot.
Further, the Content Marketing Institute found they are the most effective type of content at the buying stage (see below chart). If you haven’t used Case Studies before may not understand their hidden value. This article describes four ways they help you win more top clients.
1. Standing Out From the Crowd
A case study is a business-oriented “before-and-after story.” It explains how your product helped a client succeed and is read by an executive or managerial decision-maker. This is different than a use case, which is a scenario of how a product could possibly be used.
A client story helps a decision-maker see how someone else has successfully used your product. Decision makers need proof and must do their own due diligence before engaging a salesperson.
“Prospects are wary about any claims or promises you make. They are most interested in what your customers are willing to go on record saying about their results.” – Derek Little, CEO, Trailblazer Writing
Besides acting as a record of proof, success stories let you stand out from the crowd. There are so many variables involved in a success story there’s no way someone could copy or imitate you. And since they’re written like a news story they don’t look like a marketing piece at all.
2. Engaging Your Readers’ Emotions
Research shows stories are the key to persuasion. If your content doesn’t engage a readers emotions it will have little impact. Further, almost everyone today has a mobile device and a short attention span. This is why storytelling is such an effective way to sell your products and ideas.
A good story synchronizes the reader’s brain with the storyteller. Storytelling activates more parts of the brain than facts so your story makes a lasting impression. Risk creates the emotion of fear which holds people back from buying. A case study reassures them by creating compassion and trustworthiness.
It doesn’t matter how great you say your product is, prospects don’t believe you. At a decision-making level prospects are wary about any claims or promises you make. They are most interested in what your customers are willing to go on record saying about their results. This is what compels readers to take action.
“I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Derek’s work. He’s a terrific copywriter and knows the best practices of crafting a compelling case study. I highly recommend him.” – Steve Slaunwhite, Author, The Everything Guide to Writing Copy
3. Creating a Heroic Experience
Everyone loves being a hero. That’s why the best case studies are hero stories. Your customer gets to play the lead role of the hero, while their problem is the villain. You get to be the wise mentor and your product is their formula for success.
Think of your favorite TV program or Netflix series. Shows with a good story are sometimes difficult to stop watching. Ask someone who’s watched all seven seasons of Breaking Bad how compelling a good story can be.
The structure of a good hero story makes it far more compelling than a mere list of facts. Imagine if this trailer on the 1st Season of Breaking Bad was presented as a list of facts. It wouldn’t be nearly as effective. Of course, business case studies eliminate almost all the drama, but they’ll include real-world details and follow the same powerful story structure.
Facts alone don’t create an emotional connection. The best success stories are written in feature story format so readers can suspend their disbelief long enough to imagine themselves in the role of the hero. Otherwise there’s a chance they won’t complete the buyer’s journey.
More than one person is involved in an important B2B buying decision. Case studies are often passed around among the entire buying committee. The greater a role they play in the purchase decision the greater your marketing ROI.
Client stories are known as “evergreen” content. Unlike a blog post, a single Case Study can generate leads for many years to come. They can also be re-purposed into an article for a very low cost. And they can be used as an opt-in offer to build your Email Newsletter list. What’s more, your story can be used as the focus of a Webinar presentation.
If your client doesn’t want to be mentioned in a case study it’s not necessarily a deal breaker. Instead, have them agree to participate in an “anonymous” success story. Leave your customer unnamed and you can still create an effective client story as long as you capture enough real-world details.
Since a case study usually targets a specific industry, it becomes easier to generate more leads in that industry. The greater your marketing ROI the more success stories you’ll be able to afford and the more markets you’ll be able to reach.
You’ll be able to increase your sales and continually grow your business. While creating a satisfied customer in the first place is a great achievement in itself, it would be an enormous lost opportunity to not capture that value. With all these incredible advantages, a great case study could be compared to a goose that lays golden eggs.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Do it Yourself
Some companies try to write their own success stories. But these often end up as a summary or list of facts with no impact. Without customer quotes and real world details they won’t believe you. You must write it down as a professional case study.
Further, you should be aware that client stories can be challenging to write even for a seasoned journalist. They’re far more difficult to create than a blog post.
The best ones are written like a good news story. The hardest part is the interview. You must ask just the right questions and listen, but also know when to interrupt and drill down for details. It takes interviewing experience to effectively manage an interview. Done right, your customer will enjoy the experience of sharing their success
But be warned, you only get once chance at interviewing your customer. Otherwise, you’ll annoy them, and you don’t want that. Further, it’s awkward to interview your own customers. They won’t simply tell you things they’d tell a outside interviewer. This is why you should hire a professional.
A professional writer can capture all the right facts and details and craft them into a compelling story. Here are some of the components of a high-quality Case Study
Case studies are without a doubt the most powerful type of sales content you can use to help prospects complete their buyer’s journey. This is especially true for enterprise clients. They are the most popular type of content to read, and they can deliver a huge ROI.
The uniqueness of a case study gives you an unbeatable competitive advantage. The hidden story structure transcends facts and lets your readers make an emotional connection. And you make a lasting impression.
My advice is to start using case studies as soon as possible on your website and in social media. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to create more because you’re getting such a fantastic marketing ROI.