3 powerful benefits to building a bigger library of case studies
Case studies are your most powerful form of storytelling
What makes case studies radically different than the rest of your marketing? While white papers talk about features, blogposts share strategies, social posts ask questions, and they all try to explain one thing really well, case studies go broad and cover everything all at once.
They bring readers up to speed on the who, what, where, when, and why; that whole story of who your business helps and how you do it.
They're also powerfully effective for the reason that they allow your customers to do the talking for you. While only 49% of customers trust messages directly from brands, 92% of them trust the word of friends, family, and peers. Putting your customers on the pedestal both saves you the breath and winds up being more effective.
Just look at these stats:
- Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. (Social Fresh)
- 54% of marketers named articles and case studies their most effective form of content marketing (OneSpot)
- 73% of B2B buyers seek out case studies (DemandGen Report)
That all being said, case studies take some serious effort. In the OneSpot study above, 31% of respondents rated it as the hardest part of content marketing. They require you to secure permission, get time on the client’s calendar, and hope that after all that, their success is actually worth talking about. Many a case study was hamstrung because the client just didn't have anything magnetic to say.
But are they worth your time? You bet. And beyond the typical sales and marketing use-cases, here are other things you can do with them that compound their value even further:
3 critical and yet overlooked alternate functions of case studies:
1. on-boarding NEW EMPLOYEES
Most on-boarding processes focus on the employee’s specific role within the company. They tell them about their benefits, who their HR contact is, and who they report to. Their mentors then give them the nitty-gritty on their day to day, what systems to log into and where to spend their time. If they’re lucky (or unlucky, in many cases) they get to use a learning management system with some basic online courses.
But what about the bigger picture?
Case studies infuse awareness into new employees. They talk about the customer use-cases and explain why your company exists, whether that’s driving more efficiency for long-haul truckers or protecting a university’s secure student information. It’s this higher level awareness of how their role fits into the broader organization that allows all employees to work towards a common goal.
Without it, you get IT administrators who think that their job is to withhold new laptops, salespeople who game the system and bring on woefully unqualified customers, and product engineers who weigh their inventions down with so many features that only a certified power-user has any hope of success.
Expose them all to narratives about the end-result and you'll empower them to know what’s really important and what isn’t.
2. Tackling new markets
No customer ever wants to be the first penguin off the iceberg, and this makes tackling new verticals tough. Prospects almost always want to see that someone else who looks like them has already taken the plunge and made the purchase. This is why well-written case studies that include enough specifics to be credible and yet are also broad enough to speak to the challenges of multiple industries are extremely powerful.
Broad case studies allow salespeople and marketers to use case studies about credit unions to approach banks, to use ones on financial technology startups to approach investment banks, and to use ones about large enterprises to approach the government and education sectors.
3. Sharpening your sales team’s pitches
For salespeople, creating a resource that makes all case studies accessible in one place can be invaluable. This allows them to pepper facts from them into their presentations, emails, and conversations, and adds a high degree of social proof. According to eminent psychologist Robert Cialdini in his book Influence, your buyers will trust documentation that conveys a sense of authority. By taking an otherwise unbelievable statistic like “We increased our customer's ROI by 550%” from of the mouth of the salesperson and placing it on the website, you make it far more believable.
In aggregate, a repository of great, metrics-focused case studies can also be distilled down to a quick-reference list of ROI metrics for salespeople. At my last organization our sales team took it upon ourselves to create a shared spreadsheet that allowed us to easily filter through them based on the client we were talking to - be that by industry, use-case, or company size.
Kapost reports that a centralized repository of this type is uncommon, and that 65% of sales reps say that they can’t find the right content to send to prospects. The other 35% who can find what they're looking for must end up winning the lion's share of the deals, as a DemandGen report shows that 95% of buyers end up purchasing from those organizations that provided them with ample and relevant content. The answer? Centralize great content in the form of case studies for the salespeople.
Making the case for studies
Must we belabor the point any further? Case studies are the foundational stories of how your business interacts with the world and whether you’re hoping to be understood by prospects, new hires, investors, or executives, the backbone of your content marketing should consist of case studies. Invest the time so that new clients will invest in you!