This is part one of a ten-part series on how to profit from case study writing.
Let’s start! Brochures and other promotional materials have their place in the sales process, but for building relationships that win the hearts and minds of prospects, try case studies – they are much more effective because they offer quantifiable success stories told from the perspective of current satisfied customers.
In a cluttered, me-too market place, prospects require vendors to establish themselves as credible experts before they take them seriously – much less take their calls or return their e-mail solicitations.
6 Business Case Study Writing Tactics
One of the best ways to demonstrate credibility is through case studies co-developed with existing customers. These become de facto letters of reference and strong referrals.
While sales sheets are ideal for highlighting specific services or products:
- Case studies allow businesses to tell a compelling story that resonates with prospects without being overly promotional.
- Case studies also shift the focus from it’s all about me and my company to something that is more educational in tone and content – and
- Highlight tangible situations prospects can relate to.
This subtle approach is typically more effective and leads to a deeper connection with potential customers than in-your-face ads and brochures.
Today’s prospects want documented proof that your company has brought success to businesses similar to their own. Case studies create parallels in the minds of your prospects between their own business needs and those of similar customers you’ve already successfully served.
Here are some ways you can use case studies to get in the door with potential customers:
1. Showcase Your Industry-specific Expertise
Make sure to profile customer success stories that are relevant to your current prospect pool.
If you are targeting businesses in the banking industry, develop a case study with a customer in this sector. The closer to home you can make these anecdotes; the more effective they will be at persuading your prospects that you would be a strong business partner.
2. Promote Your Clients
By highlighting well-known customers, you can significantly enhance your company’s credibility.
Ideally, choose customers with recognizable names and strong reputations businesses that your prospects may want to emulate.
In pairing your company’s name with proven industry leaders, your company becomes a winner by association. If recognizable companies are not yet among your customer base, than highlight quantifiable success stories that illustrate your company’s value and strengths.
3. Speak Your Prospects’ Language
Case studies are ‘been there, done that, got the results’ tales of exactly why your company is a good fit.
They allow you to resonate with your prospects by speaking to them in their language and from their perspective. For this reason, the customers you choose to feature should be as similar to your prospects as possible.
Profile successes of current customers who are of a similar size organization as your prospects (i.e. small business, middle market or enterprise); espouse similar objectives as your prospects (i.e. cost savings, revenue generation, efficiencies); operate in the same or similar industries as your prospects; and face similar challenges as your prospects.
4. Focus on Your Prospect’s Business Goals
Prior to writing case studies, think carefully about your prospects’ needs and business objectives. This will enable you to speak directly to those challenges.
Case studies can demonstrate your company’s expertise in specific service areas; meeting specific industry regulations (e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley); and forging business partnerships that offer greater, more lasting benefits than the traditional vendor relationship.
5. Quantify your Successes stories
It’s not enough to say that your company has helped a business be more successful.
Truly effective case studies include quantifiable metrics and measurable results, such as new revenue generate; amount of sales increased; faster time to market; cost savings achieved; operational savings or efficiencies realized; and new markets penetrated.
6. Extend the Value of Your Case Studies
To reach as many prospects as possible, extend the value and shelf life of case studies by leveraging them in a multitude of formats.
This can include:
- Posting them on your company’s Web site to highlight quantifiable customer successes
- Including quotes or results in brochures, sales sheets and other marketing collateral
- Offering them as tangible examples of your work in proposals
- Fulfilling reference requests with a case study and contact information
- Using them to enhance award applications; and submitting them to local newspapers and trade magazines for extra exposure.
Satisfied customers are your strongest asset in winning new business.
Use your company’s past successes to generate new leads. Before your sales staff calls on a prospect, position your company to be viewed as the expert in its field.
Give your prospects real-world examples of how a partnership with your company is the quickest route to success – give them a case study.