Everyone agrees that Case Studies are effective and super-important. Yet, marketing teams could be creating more Case Studies. We always find that there are only a handful of Case Studies in a given organization, even though there are several customers and success stories that should make their way into compelling Case Studies. We do understand that building Case Studies can be expensive. Especially the super-slick ones. However, that should not be a barrier to building case studies.
Here are some additional points to consider:
- Sales need Case Studies to establish credibility and push their pipeline. Actually, they love Case Studies.
- Prospects and customers need to hear about your success. They want to learn from your successes and drive their own strategy.
- In outbound sales, content trumps format. That is, a slick Case Study is not a pre-requisite. Of course, a visually compelling Case Study (or for that matter any collateral) is always preferred. But even a decently formatted Case Studies that gets the point across is super-useful and does the job.
- Case Studies need not be verbose. On the contrary, in today’s busy world, a lot of words may dilute your Case Study message.
We believe marketers and organizations should be building more Case Studies. And building actionable and effective Case Studies should not be a chore.
Here is a framework for building actionable Case Studies that will drive the pipeline and help sales win more deals.
The framework is based on three core principles:
- Keep It Simple
- Make It Repeatable
- Seek input from others
A Template (Keep It Simple)
A simple, easy-to-follow template allows you to take the guesswork out of formatting your Case Studies. Furthermore, a template speeds up the process of Case Study creation. It’s like the difference between writing a story from a clean slate versus filling in the blanks in a pre-defined structure of a story. The Template need not be super-fancy. A powerpoint or word template will suffice. Some other points to consider:
- Have a set of stock images that you can include in the template to add visual appeal.
- Include your company branding in the template.
- Follow the rule of 3, where applicable. Anything more is going to add noise and dilute the message.
- Answer the following questions in your template. Where applicable, limit your input to 3 bullets. It is possible that some of these points are not relevant to your business or a particular Case Study. Feel free to customize on-the-go.
- Who is the Customer?
- What was their problem? (3)
- What was the process of selection? (3)
- How did your offering address their problem? (3)
- Where are they today? (3)
- Where are they going? (3)
- When possible, try to use quantitative numbers.
Trigger Points (Make it Repeatable)
Once you have a template in place, you need to identify the triggers to define a Case Study. Waiting for your sales team or product team to demand a Case Study is not a smart strategy. Instead, identify those trigger points when a Case Study has to be created. Two of the most common trigger points for creating a Case Study are:
- When an opportunity is won.
- When your customer achieves a specific milestone with your offering
If you can, try to automate this process. It could be as simple as having an integration into your CRM application and on every win, it putting a “Create Case Study for XYZ Customer” task on your marketing calendar.
And try to keep a tab on your progress. Not every trigger point is going to result in a Case Study. But measuring your progress will help you and your team identify opportunities and address known gaps.
Leverage Other Teams (Seek Input)
Building quality content is a collective task. Yes, marketing tends to be the owner of content creation, but the inputs required to write quality content comes from all corners of your organization. Similarly, marketing teams cannot develop a quality Case Study in isolation. Especially if you want to make it a repeatable activity, you ought to seek input from your colleagues in sales, sales engineering, customer success and product teams. And having a template for the Case Study can be a big help to achieve collaboration. Some other notable points when involving others in the process,
- Introduce the initiative to your sales and product colleagues. During one of your quarterly meetings or company’s monthly lunch and learns, make sure you announce this initiative. Tell your colleagues why you are doing and how you are doing it. And that you are counting on their help.
- If you are building a Case Study after winning a deal, you need to seek inputs from the sales owner and others who were involved in driving that deal home. Similarly, you need to rely on the inputs from customer success teams when a customer meets specific milestones.
- If you are tracking engagement on the Case Study (which you should be, if you are not), share these insights with your colleagues outside marketing. Particularly, highlight contributions and give credit where it is due.
Case Studies are important assets for the success of your business. Following a process to create strong, actionable Case Studies should be an essential element of your content strategy.