Many companies botch case studies and completely under estimate their value.
Case studies are the most valuable content you can develop. Learn how to do it right.
What is so great about cases studies is they can be highly leveraged on your website, in social channels, in the field, and at trade shows and events. Plus they are SEO rich with keywords supporting both product and vertical positioning. Not every collateral piece lives up to this test.
Everyone likes Case Studies
Prospective customers love case studies. They are stories that resonate, because customers can see themselves in them, and they are usually a short read. Sales people love them too. They make great leave-behinds, which they can use selectively in the industries they sell into.
Every sales rep would love to have at least one solid case study, for a project they sold, in their bag. For this reason, sales people are motivated to help you get them written. They are eager to give you all the basic facts to get you started, so long as you make it easy for them with a Case Study Brief template.
Case studies are an easy write, because they are factual and after the fact. Perhaps this is why they are often under-rated for their value, by marketers.
But this is a mistake. If you monitor content download stats you’ll likely find case studies outweigh whitepapers as much as 5:1, even though you are usually pushing whitepapers, and not case studies.
When to write your Case Studies
The best time to write case studies is 2-3 months after the sale. While the sales relationship is still close, and the customer is still glowing from a successful implementation and problem solved.
While it may take a bit of patience to get the approvals, doing so it is not a lot of actual work. Plus a motivated sales person can help you navigate the process and pave the way for a quick sign off.
Since they are so easy to write, it is also practical to hand them off to freelance writers. Only heed this caution. If you do so without a grand plan, you’ll end up with loads of case studies that are all more or less the same. Don’t fall into this easy trap. You need to maximize variation. Ideally, each case study should be about a unique problem in a different industry.
Defining your Case Study Strategy
So before you start a case study program, create a Case Studies Matrix showing your verticals and solution strengths. Each cell represents a case study that focuses on one of your strengths in one particular vertical.
Then, in future, whenever case study opportunities come up, you should vet each case study opportunity against this matrix, and start filling in the empty cells. If you already have the cell covered, then only take on the new case study, if it is either A) a substantially higher profile client or B) if the use case scenario is markedly more relevant to this vertical, than the use case you already have covered.
Together with the matrix, you must also develop a Case Study Brief template, so your sales people can give you the facts in a consistent way. And so your writers can write with a consistent structure, covering similar data sets, and focusing on the right message every time. This brief defines both the structure of the case study and all the data elements that need to be picked up in the interview.
A little bit of planning will get you better results, and shorten review cycles.
Case studies are the perfect handout:
In this day and age, print collateral is almost dead. That certainly makes sense for data sheets. Let prospects pull them off the web when they want. But case studies absolutely should be printed. Sales people always want them, and they are great for media kits and all types of events and trade shows, especially vertical events. They are ideal lobby material too. They are a quick, easy read that instantly position you in the industries you serve and real-world problems you solve.