By Amanda Wynne
If there’s one thing that marketing and sales teams can agree on it’s that you can never have too many case studies. They are incredibly valuable tools that help prove to prospects and other customers that there is inherent value not only in your offer, but also in changing from their current status quo.
Sales Teams Love Them
The SAVO team looked at data around case study use by our customers and found some interesting data points. First, case studies were used heavily early in the sales process. That’s no surprise, they can be a great way for a prospect to visualize a “new future” that other, similar companies have already achieved.
The same study saw a second spike in usage at the end of the sales process. Why? Because late in the sales process senior executives want reassurance that they are making the right choice. So smart sellers deploy their case studies as a way to push a deal over the edge. Proof of prior success helps the seller’s champion to make a stronger case internally.
Marketing Teams Love Them
Marketers love case studies too because they are great for a number of scenarios. They look great on a website and in presentations. Everyone loves to show off their “NASCAR” slide with dozens of great logos. Plus, case studies are always being deployed in other instances — like analyst conversations. They are a flexible arrow in marketing’s quiver.
Even though they are great tools, you seldom have enough of them. So, what are some steps that you can take to increase the number of case studies you have available? Let’s take a look at five tactics.
Get Success from Success
Your customer success and account management teams work with your customers on a daily basis. They hear their challenges and address them. They hear their successes and reinforce them. So, these teams are closer than anyone to your customers — and they know which customers are good candidates. That means you need to work with success to land these customers as case studies.
Sometimes your success team might go for the “same old” customers over and over again. A great way to avoid this is to use customer survey data. Generally, your success team will measure the happiness of your customers — often by using a tool like Net Promoter Scores. When they do, you can look for customers that rank high on the scoring and pull these hidden gems into your process.
Make it Easy to be a Success (Story)
When you’re soliciting your customers to be case studies, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to come on board. If you’re sending them a complicated questionnaire with 20 sub questions, there’s a very good chance they won’t be happy to complete it.
If you use a customer-friendly format, like an interview, you might get better results. Send your questions ahead of time so they know what to expect, but then get on the phone and have a conversation with the customers. You’re often more likely to get interesting quotes and data from this kind of interview — all while making it much more pleasant for your customer.
Mix Up the Formats
Who says that a case study has to be a written document? Sometimes legal approvals can get in your way if you’re using a formal written case study. Another approach might be to make a case study as a podcast or a video or even an infographic. These styles not only break up the monotony of a wall of PDFs, they also make it easier to get approval and more fun for your customers to participate in.
Videos don’t have to be a complicated and expensive video shoot. You might be able to do something much less formal — but often more authentic — by using a FaceTime or Skype interview. Your prospects will love the insights in this casual format — and your customers will love the lowered intensity.
Redefine What a Case Study is
Traditionally we think of a case study as looking at the ROI that a customer received on the investment they made in your offer. And there’s no doubt that that kind of case study is very compelling. But if your threshold for getting a case study published is that your customer has to have data on their success, well, you’re not likely going to have too many to publish!
Instead, look at case studies as coming in a variety of levels of quantifiability. Some will be on the pole of rich ROI studies. Others will be early stage or pre-data — and are more about “why we chose you”. That is a perfectly valid type of study — and one that prospects are also hungry for.
Similarly, you could go even simpler. Who says that a success story has to be a formal document or even a video. Sometimes a success story is exactly that: a story. When you can pull together a synopsis of the reason for action and the benefits that a customer received. Plus, when you can add in a customer quote — you have a valuable story that your sellers can insert into conversations. And that is incredibly powerful for motivating behavior.
Get a Third Party Involved
Sometimes a customer may not want to come across as being too aligned with your company. So, they might want to be anonymous. Or, they might want to only have their brand associated with a legitimizing party. That’s where third-parties can be useful.
You might contract with an analyst or third-party consultant to interview and assess the value that your customer received from your offer. The fact that it is researched and written by another company gives customers more comfort and can actually make the success story a more impartial (and hence more effective) piece of collateral.
Don’t underestimate the power of your case study library! Follow these steps to deepen your library today.
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