In B2B scenarios, there are many different ways a company can market their products and services, but the traditional benefit-driven flyers, sales presentations, and so on often aren’t enough. Product features and potential ROI results won’t necessarily differentiate from a competitor, and they definitely don’t do anything to build trust with a customer. Think about your own buying journey as a consumer – you’ve probably pored over customer reviews before spending money on something big. Why should the B2B buying journey be any different?
81% of people trust the advice of friends and families over business advice (HubSpot Research Trust Survey, 2018)
This is where case studies come in. Outside perspectives are not an element to be overlooked; they can be key in rounding out your marketing. Praise for a product or service from a customer who is relatable (and, chiefly, not the company offering said product or service) is the best way to build trust and accelerate a purchase.
97% of B2B customers said case studies are the most reliable type of content when evaluating services (Demand Gen Report, 2014)
Case studies mean customer trust, and customer trust means greater likelihood of a sale. Therefore, case studies = sales.
In the B2B setting, case studies help convert and accelerate the most leads (Marketing Charts, 2018)
The issue is, many companies already recognize the importance of case studies. What’s meant to be a differentiator is in such high use that at a first glance, it might not seem like a differentiator at all.
Today, 73% of B2B marketers are writing and publishing case studies (Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 2018).
What the stats don’t tell you though is that not all case studies are good case studies. There are certain elements that give case studies much more persuasive power and can drastically elevate both the seller and the product/service in the eyes of the customer.
The first thing a case study needs to tell its reader is why they should care about this company’s experience with the product/service in question. Is it a large and reputable company? The recognition of name alone is enough to lend a great deal of credibility. Or maybe, if it’s a small business, what do they do? How many employees do they have? What has their startup experience been like? Maybe this company is just like the reader’s business – that connection can act like a clothing review from someone who wears your same size. Or maybe they’re an industry leader whose contemporaries look to them as a model. In any setting, a case study should always introduce the company along with their challenges. In order for the results to be understood and carry weight, the reader needs to know what it is that created the need in the first place.
Sure, it’s nice to hear that “this product made things much easier for us,” but that’s not going to do much in terms of differentiating among competitors. The more specificity, the better. Again, this is all about building a case that the reader can relate to. Numerical results will pack the most impact of all. Though not everyone would like to admit it, business is a numbers game. How much money or time did they save? How many employees were helped? Metrical results are a case study’s best friend!
To complement the cold hard metrical results, a case study also needs a personal touch. Including a quote from the customer is a great way to enhance that human connection and reinforce that this is really coming from the customer, not the seller. This mindset should carry through the whole case study by keeping the focus on the customer’s experience and letting the seller take the back seat.
The case study is a formula, but also an art. Building credibility is a matter of balancing factual and anecdotal support. The right team of researchers and writers can help your business successfully foster trust and boost sales.
About Weber Associates
Weber Associates is a Columbus, OH-based consulting firm. Since 1985, we have blended the creativity of a marketing agency with the analytical rigor of a consultancy to help our clients solve real sales and marketing challenges so they can significantly grow revenues and customer loyalty.