Case Studies and Your Prospect’s Head – 3 Takes

This post was written by John White on Tue, 25 Oct 2011 12:54:03 +0000
Posted Under: case studies,content marketing,marketing communications writer,tell your story

Marketing managers use case studies to explain how their products are used. What kind of ideas do your case studies plant in your prospect’s mind?

21st CenturyHow does your organization use case studies? Do you realize how potent a tool they can be in your Content Buffet?

[Quick factoid in case you want to be convinced: Eccolo Media’s 2011 B2B Technology Collateral Survey finds that 68 percent of respondents rated case studies as “very” to “extremely influential” in 2011, as compared to 39 percent of respondents in the 2010 survey (page 8).]

Why do case studies work?

They work because people don’t want to feel alone in taking a chance on your product. Whether you’re selling mixing bowls, gas turbines or a college education, nobody wants to be the first to try your product.

So keep that in mind when your marketing communications writer is creating your case studies. Instead of describing how cool your product is, tell a story in which your prospects can see themselves so that they don’t feel they’re taking a big risk by sending you their check.

Of course, you can’t calm everybody’s nerves with one case study, so organizations with a content marketing strategy create a series of them and give them titles that make it easy for people to find one in which they can see themselves.

What’s in your prospect’s head?

Depending on how your marketing communications writer executes your content marketing strategy, your case studies will trigger one of these thoughts in the brain of your prospect:

  1. “These guys have some big customers.” Sometimes you want a case study that drops names. Who can resist that temptation? If you landed the Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company and made them happy, trumpet that from the rooftops and put that idea into your prospect’s head. Most of the time, though, the namedropping is pretty transparent and it’s wrapped around a frankly rather dull Problem-Solution-Result structure. It’s not pretty, but if you have to get the piece approved by a phalanx of your client’s reviewers, you may need clinical, succinct copy.
  2. “This is the same problem I have, and these guys understand it.” If you want to plug the reader right into your socket, show that your customer actually had multiple problems – they always have, somewhere – and that you didn’t stop asking questions when you reached the first one. Explain how you fixed them, in as much detail as you can get away with.
  3. “If these guys can frim the jim-jams for them, maybe they can frap the krick for us.” For this, you need to drive imagination with a case study that tells a real story, especially a story about an unexpected use of your product. You have to show your readers what your customer accomplished with your product, then put them in the frame of mind to think one step removed. That accelerator was designed for a robot? What if we used it in a history-making tchotchke?

What kind of ideas do your case studies plant in your prospect’s mind? Does it align with your content marketing strategy?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: gurdonark

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