A lot of attention (too much, in my opinion) is paid to creating content for content’s sake. Businesses are under incredible pressure to constantly create content, everything from social media updates, blogs and webinars, to guest editorials. And this is all in addition to more traditional marketing fare (e.g. brochures, ads). But is it working when it comes to building customer confidence?
According to a 2014 report by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI)/MarketingProfs, B2B content marketers rank case studies second only to in-person events in building customer confidence and brand awareness.
Case studies work so well because they cut through all the content “clutter” and get right to the point: this is how our product/service works. Plus, case studies tell a story that resonates with your customers, helping to build relationships and drive sales. They are also relatively short – typically just one or two pages, not too short as to be meaningless (i.e. pretty but content “lite”) but just long enough to tell a compelling story.
In the nonprofit world, case studies are called “case statements” and are designed to highlight a specific need of the nonprofit (e.g. new medical equipment, funding for a new program or building). But the goal is still the same: build brand awareness and drive sales or funding support.
How Many and Who’s Going to Write It? So if case studies are so highly valued, why don’t more companies use them? According to CMI, the biggest challenge is the usual suspect: not enough time.
Depending on your business, one to three case studies, updated annually, is usually sufficient. More may be needed for businesses that specialize in several distinct areas.
Sales or marketing staff are usually best suited for writing the case study, as they know both the product or service inside out as well as the client experience that best illustrates the value of your company’s product or service.
If pressed for time, hire a qualified writer to work directly with your sales or marketing staff, as well as with the client, to research, interview, write, and prepe the final case study. The writer (in-house or paid consultant) will work directly with a graphic designer (either in-house or consultant) on the final piece. Most writers partner with graphic designers and can deliver a complete product, including infographics, photography, and final design.
Don’t Tell Me. Show Me. Case studies are the perfect leave-behind marketing tool: informative, based on actual client experiences, graphic rich (quotes, infographics, photos), and thought-provoking long after the sales executive has left the building. If your business isn’t using case studies, start now. The social media update can wait.