WordWizards Blog

The customer case study: 100% inedible — but an incredibly effective marketing tool

Remember “The Incredible, Edible Egg” ad campaign that launched in 1976? One of the core themes of the campaign was (still is, in fact) the versatility of eggs. From breakfast, snacks and salads to beverages, custards and cakes, there’s hardly a food category where this humble oval hasn’t gone!

Apologies for cracking open this analogy, but I think there’s one big point of similarity between the egg and the business-to-business customer case study: Both possess exceptional versatility. When I talk about the versatility of a case study, I’m referring to the many ways it can infuse power into your marketing initiatives.

Before I go any further, let’s answer a question that may have crossed your mind: Why would you want to produce and market B2B customer case studies? Because they work. One of my clients, Joan Moser, told me that case studies helped her business, Spoken Impact, close 50% more business.

‘All about third-party validation’

Another client, Chuck Fuerst, Vice President of Marketing at 3Gtms, explains it this way: “A case study is all about third-party validation. Someone else, an actual customer, is endorsing you and your product. It carries much more weight than your own collateral.”

I might add that case studies fit nicely with one of today’s biggest trends in commerce: finding out what our peers think of a product or service that we’re interested in (i.e. through Google, Yelp!, Facebook and the many other rating and review sites).

Previously, I wrote about building a strong foundation for a customer case study by getting the right information from the right people. In my experience, that’s the hardest part of creating a case study. But once that’s done and the case study is written, let the fun begin — it’s time to imagine all the ways you can deploy it in your marketing!

Start with a tried-and-true recipe…

With eggs, you’ve got your basics: scrambled, sunny-side up, over easy, poached, omelets, etc.. We’re talking tried-and-true — just like the “recipe” for getting case studies into the hands of your prospects and current clients:

  • Send with prospecting emails and physical mailers
  • Hand out at conventions and tradeshows
  • Leave behind at sales presentations
  • Publish on your website (or make available for download)
  • Insert into a PR kit to generate media coverage
  • Display in your lobby or reception area

…and then think outside the cookbook

Cheesesteak benedict anyone? How about a broccoli and bell pepper frittata? Don’t let that 1960s Betty Crocker cookbook limit your enjoyment of eggs! Well, it’s also time to move case study marketing into the 21st century.

“Case studies should be an integral part of your content strategy,” Chuck Fuerst advises. “You can leverage them in so many ways — for prospecting, nurturing and awareness campaigns.”

Following are specific examples of how 3Gtms is generating maximum ROI from its case study marketing:

  • Every employee with a LinkedIn and/or Twitter account is encouraged to share a teaser post that links to the case study at www.3Gtms.com.
  • Key points from case studies are added to PowerPoint presentations for sales reps to use as proof points.
  • Hard-hitting quotes are extracted from case studies and used as standalone “sound bites” on the company website.
  • At tradeshows, sales reps give away USB sticks preloaded with the latest case study. (It’s one of their most popular freebies!)
  • Whenever possible, 3Gtms includes case study excerpts in other collateral pieces it develops, extending the power of third-party validation on various topics.
  • 3Gtms aims to present clients in a highly favorable light, enabling them to use the case studies in their own marketing programs and potentially generate positive coverage in local and business media.

In summary, Chuck views multifaceted case study marketing as a proven way to break through the clutter of “marketing noise.” Has your company used other effective case study marketing tactics? Please get in touch with me — I’m always looking for “egg-stra” (sorry) ideas to share in this blog.

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