Case Studies in B2B Content Marketing

freedigitalphotos_case study-light bulbMari Gottdiener specialized in getting credit bureaus to address and correct credit report errors. After struggling to find clients throughout the general population, she discovered that mortgage brokers were ready-made prospects. They had an ongoing need for her services on behalf of their loan applicants.

Mari decided to become a resource for the national mortgage broker industry. She began networking with brokers at trade association meetings, and gave presentations at several mortgage offices. She published several articles in mortgage trade publications, one of which catapulted her speaking career and landed a nationwide web seminar that brought clients from all across the country.

Her efforts paid off and, in less than six months, she became a recognized lending industry expert in 15 states. “The more I focused on being the person who fixes credit problems for mortgage brokers, the easier it became to define what I could do for them,” said Gottdiener. “Now, my name gets passed around, and I’ve developed a special reputation within that market that makes getting business easier than ever.”

The Power of Stories

I’ve opened many talks with my story about former client, Mari Gottdiener. I’ve found it much easier to summarize the basic tenants of my Get Slightly Famous marketing model with a short, compelling vignette rather than reciting bullet points. Almost without exception, I’ve received compliments on Mari’s real-world success story because it perfectly illustrates how getting Slightly Famous can transform a business.

Case studies cut through the clutter. Case studies are powerful additions to any business website, presentation, article or blog post. Case studies tap the powerful human need for stories, vividly illustrating how your company has created results and conveying information in a way that bullet points, facts, pie charts, or spreadsheets alone never could.

Wired for Story. According to author Lisa Cron, stories ignite the brain’s hardwired desire to learn what happens next. Like a good story, effective case studies move readers from an initial challenge faced by a main character (your client) and then showing how your company (the hero) provided a solution. By providing a “plot” that your prospects can identify with, case studies tap into our deep desire to see a character move toward resolution.

Case studies are powerful content marketing tools. As content becomes a commodity, and your marketplace swims in information overload, case studies help your company illustrate how it delivers value. Instead of merely stating the facts, you can develop case studies that convey narrative accounts of your work that get and keep your prospects’ attention.

Case studies illustrate your expertise. Although it has become de rigueur to list past clients on company websites, your credibility skyrockets when you expand your accounting of client results into case studies that tell stories about how your firm helped a company just like your prospect overcome a problem and find a solution.

Energize Your Content Marketing Mix

Case studies can function as content marketing tools that attract and engage prospects on your company website, as vignettes for public speaking engagements, and sales talking points that help prospects envision how your company solves problems.

As B2B purchasers start their research online, case studies act as attention getters that help your firm make the vendor shortlist. Moreover, as your prospects share information about prospective companies within an organization, your well constructed case study can find its way to the desks of top decision makers.

Choose situations that broadly represent your target market. Describe the customer’s situation both before and after they worked with you, and be very clear about the results you achieved for them. You want your potential clients and customers to put themselves in the place of past clients and customers, and see themselves receiving similar benefits.

Provide a simple problem/solution narrative that resonates with target prospects. Business case studies should follow a proven structure, with a beginning (your client’s challenge) middle (how your firm developed a solution) and end (how your firm improved your client’s situation) including insights readers can apply.

Demonstrate your approach to problem solving. A case study should vividly the strategy and steps you brought to your client’s situation. When creating case studies, distill your process down to its essence; avoid going into minute details and instead focus on the most important elements that illustrate your good judgement and expertise.

Text and Multimedia Formats. Case study content can be multi-purposed in text, image, video and document types: web page, PDF, Word, PPT, Slideshare. Case studies can be included in ebooks, white papers, guides & best practices, webinars and conference presentations.

Using reprints in new ways is limited only by your creativity. Include case studies in your press kit to promote speaking engagements. Include case studies prominently on your website, use them as blog posts and include them with proposals to give your firm a competitive edge against the competition. Send case studies to trade associations, accompanied by a quick cover letter, for possible publication in industry newsletters, websites or blogs giving you even more exposure.