Why case studies are a powerful marketing tool in the B2B sector
As with the purchase of any new service or product, when a company is searching for a new supplier, third party reviews and case studies can be a really powerful way to demonstrate a company’s ability and level of customer service. By showcasing a project for an existing client, it allows the reader to experience both the process from the customer’s point of view but also their thoughts on working with the company.
Case studies can vary depending on your time and resource availability, the type of project, your business’s tone and how visual the project is. They can also be presented in different ways with a written case study being the most popular form as you are able to read the narrative and be presented with engaging imagery. This format allows readers to digest the content at their leisure and pick out key relevant information.
However, case studies can also be presented in more visual formats, with both graphic based forms such as infographics or video case studies allowing for further creativity. These styles are becoming an increasingly popular way in which to present case studies, engaging a wider audience and humanising your brand in ways words alone cannot, but can require more planning and resources.
What should a case study include?
Before drafting your case study, is essential that you first obtain permission from the client to ensure they are happy for you to publish details of the work you have undertaken for them.
When planning your case study, bear in mind that it should essentially tell a story to the reader. Create a beginning, middle and end to the piece by including details such as - what were the client’s goals, what was the process to meet the goals, and what was the outcome?
Set out the background of the client with an emphasis on what they do and what they’ve achieved. Ensure you discuss the problems that the client faced and how it ought to be solved, as this in particular can become an aspect for prospective clients to compare their needs to. Next, you should detail how you provided a solution to each objective the client had and address any challenges, as this will demonstrate how you can help the reader achieve their own objectives.
Finally, you should outline the results of the project and where possible, including visuals and statistics which demonstrate the impact of your expertise on your client’s business. Incorporating all of these elements will produce a well-rounded and useful case study for prospective clients.
To ensure you maximise the reach of the case study, you should also consider how you can integrate this within your wider marketing campaigns, creating social content to drive visitors to it, and include the case study in any marketing communications such as email marketing and printed materials.
What are the pros and cons of case studies?
Although on face value, case studies are a flawless way of enticing a prospective client, it is important for you to keep certain factors in mind.
Firstly, case studies require a certain degree of vulnerability by revealing your practices and the ways in which you operate. Having some transparency in your case studies can come with the disadvantage that your competitors can also see your methods. As previously mentioned, not all clients will want to expose what caused their success, meaning it can be difficult to gain permission from those with the most suitable potential case studies. Finally, case studies do require a certain degree of maintenance so that they remain current, but you can always update them with new progress.
On the other hand, a B2B case study can set your business apart from your competitors by identifying areas which you excel at. However, perhaps the key takeaway from your case studies is the fact that they establish the confidence in your reader that you are able to deliver projects in a reliable manner. As noted previously, case studies provide a sense of authenticity by there being content approved and services recommended by other clients and customers. This is something many of us subconsciously seek out, as you are more likely to be inclined to make a new purchase based on testimonials and feedback.
What are good examples of case studies?
Brands will present case studies in a manner of ways to suit their tone of voice, brand personality and website design. However, when planning how you want to approach your case study, looking at how successful brands present their work can be a useful source of inspiration.
Design firm IDEO executed their case study with Swarovski in an intuitive, emotive and personal way. By using a personal tone, the personality of the firm shines through when walking through the project's journey. Although, the case study's content isn't long-form or richly detailed, it is succinct and adopts an engaging, relatable and comprehensive tone. The case study itself combined varying types of multimedia to create a well rounded and insightful report. Furthermore, the study rounds off with a testimonial to enhance the sense of authenticity.
In summary, a B2B case study can be a powerful way to set your business apart from your competitors by demonstrating your expertise, customer service levels, and how you can help potential clients with future projects.