According to the B2B Content Marketing 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends-North America Report, 71% of B2B marketers are using case studies as part of their content marketing strategy. This is because case studies can be a powerful tool that educates prospects on how to solve their challenges while proving that your services are valuable.
However, many B2B marketers make mistakes that diminish the value of their case studies and turn what can be a compelling story into just another sales pitch that nobody wants to read. Here are the five biggest case study mistakes:
1. Telling the story from your perspective, not your customer’s perspective
In marketing, many projects need to be “done and done yesterday”. Since case study development can take a long time, usually due to scheduling customer interviews and getting approvals, many B2B marketers can feel forced to remove the customer from the process and just write something themselves (or take something that was submitted from a sales representative). However, every time you write a case study without input from your customer, a unicorn dies. A case study without quotes from your customer lacks credibility and kills your marketing magic.
2. Not getting your customer’s permission to feature them in a case study
Getting approvals can be frustrating. One minute all looks well, and the next your customer is calling the whole thing off just hours before your case study is scheduled to go live. While you may not have control over your customer’s internal approval process, there are some things you can do to increase your odds of a fast approval.
First, seek stories from customers who are excited about working with you and the results that they achieved. If they’re emailing you compliments or singing your praises on social media, you’ll probably sail through the approval process. Then, make sure you involve them throughout every stage of the case study creation process. Ask for permission at the following stages:
- When you want to schedule an interview with them and feature them in a case study.
- When you want to record the interview.
- When you have a draft of the case study and want to take it to the final stages.
3. Jamming your case study with unnecessary details
While you may find every detail about how a customer implemented your product fascinating, your leads may just end up with eye strain. Your B2B case studies should focus on a few key points – the points that will resonate the most with your target audience – and leave the rest out. A good recommendation is to keep the case study to 2-3 pages with room for white space and graphics. You should also use sub-headers, bullets and selective bold text to make the case study easier to scan.
4. Not reformatting your case studies for different channels
If you want to get the most bang from your marketing buck, then you should share case studies across all of your channels. However, a 3-page PDF will not work on a channel such as SlideShare that requires presentations with punchy graphics and minimal text. Be sure to reimagine your case studies so they fit into all of your channels. For example, turn a case study into a “how to” article and publish it on your blog or make a short video to post on YouTube.
5. Not creating case studies for all of your products, services and verticals
Much like a good novel, a good case study should draw in readers so they envision themselves as the hero – your happy customer. Make it easy for readers to see themselves as your customers by developing case studies for all of your products, services and verticals. To do this, you may need to compare your existing case studies to your current offerings and see where you are missing proof points.
And finally, the biggest mistake of all is not creating any case studies. If you’re missing this social proof of your value, be sure to add case study development to your marketing calendar.
What about you? What do you think are the biggest case study mistakes? Feel free to share your comments below.
All great points! Seem obvious enough… but always important to be reminded.
I find that companies often over-use case studies and treat them as a cure-all. No matter how many you produce you will never have one that matches your prospects scenario 100%. Case studies should be used to establish credibility (eg. someone is willing to put their name on paper and vouch for us)… but other material (use cases, before/afters, ROI tools, data sheets) are still needed for explaining how you can solve a specific issue.
Thanks for commenting! Yes, I find that it’s impossible to show a new client something that matches their needs 100%, as every client is different. The best you can do is come close and prove to them that you have the skills to meet their needs.