As a B2B marketer, you know that having impactful case studies on your website is crucial. If you want to turn prospects into customers, you need to prove just how good your company is. Case studies are your opportunity to do that.
This is Why Case Studies are Important
According to the B2B Content Marketing Report, case studies are one of the most effective B2B marketing tactics. They have a 65% effectiveness rating, making them the third-best tactic, behind in-person events and webinars.
Case studies are also popular, being used by a whopping 82% of B2B marketers. And with so many marketers using case studies, it’s more important than ever that yours stand out from the crowd.
If they don’t stand out, your potential customers are going to forget about them the second they see them.
So how can you make your B2B case studies special? How can you leave a lasting impression and make a real impact on your prospect’s decision making?
Well, there’s one critical mistake that you should try to avoid.
Are You Making This Mistake With Your B2B Case Studies?
A big problem I see with a lot of case studies is that they’re bland. They have headings labeled Challenge, Solution, and Result.
We all know that this is a tried and true formula for structuring B2B case studies. You start with the challenges your customer was facing before working with you. Then you show how they used your company’s solution to achieve their goals. Finally, you show the positive results they achieved. And now your company looks awesome.
This formula works. But when you use the same headings in every one of your case studies, they all start to look the same. It’s like your painting by the numbers instead of creating your own work of art. And nobody is going to stop to admire your creation.
What if your case study could be more than just a bunch of filled-in sections? What if it could be an engaging story?
The Case Study Format That Will Actually Excite Your Prospects
In her awesome book, Stories That Sell, author Casey Hibbard introduces the idea of framing your B2B case studies as success stories.
This approach goes beyond just painting by the numbers. It involves conducting customer interviews and writing in a journalistic style.
Case studies written this way are generously peppered with customer quotes. They have headings that engage readers and pull them into the content. And they’re more eye-catching and more unique than traditional case studies.
Here is an Example of a Great Success Story
One company that does a good job of creating success stories is Salesforce. Let’s take a look at a case study they did featuring CoderDojo, an organization that teaches coding skills to children.
First, an Interesting Quote Grabs Our Attention
In this customer quote, the Global CEO of CoderDojo talks about how Salesforce has benefited her organization.
“With Salesforce, we can continue to grow our community and encourage the next generation of programmers.”
-Mary Moloney, Global CEO, Coder Dojo
Because a success story is essentially an extended testimonial, it should feature plenty of quotes from your customer throughout. In your own success stories, you’ll want to have one main quote, like the one above, to pull people in.
The main quote establishes what’s unique about this customer and their story (Encouraging the next generation of programmers). It also shows how Salesforce is helping CoderDojo to achieve their business goals (Growing their community).
Keep in mind that the people you quote should have roles similar to the people you are trying to win over. That way, the reader will be able to identify with them and their needs.
The Section Headings Move the Story Along
Aside from good quotes, you also need to have good section headings. This story has three. So, let’s take a look at the first one:
This section could have been called Company Background and Challenges. But then who would want to read it? Talking about how young developers are being inspired establishes this success story as being different from all the others on the Salesforce website.
Every success story needs to have a unique angle. If every case study has the same section headings, how do we know which ones we should read?
The next section is called:
This is the Solutions section. And, in it, we learn that CoderDojo is using two of Salesforce’s solutions: Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. They use Sales Cloud to track financial and equipment donations. And they use Service Cloud to answer questions from volunteers.
The final section is titled:
This is the Results section. And, in it, they talk about feel-good results like helping kids build new skills. But they also talk about how they use Sales Cloud to track students’ progress and how Salesforce is helping CoderDojo in their global expansion.
5 Tips That Will Help You Create Great Customer Stories
The Salesforce case study serves as an excellent example of the power of customer stories. And when you’re creating your own B2B case studies, the following five tips will help you to make them more engaging:
#1 – Tell the Story From the Perspective of the Customer
Your target readers don’t care about your company. They only care about their results. That’s why you need to make the customer in your case study the hero. And you should tell the story from their perspective. When potential customers read your story they’ll identify with the hero. They’ll see themselves in the story and imagine the results they could get by working with you.
#2 – Use Lots of Customer Quotes
The words of your customer are powerful. And your prospects will trust them a heck of a lot more than they trust you. When your case study is packed with customer quotes it becomes an extended testimonial. We all know testimonials are powerful. A success story is like a testimonial on steroids.
#3 – Come Up With an Engaging Title for Each Section
You need to go beyond the traditional Challenge, Solution, and Results headings because they give readers absolutely no reason to read your case study. Want to give them a reason? Use interesting titles. And remember that you don’t need to limit yourself to three sections. Maybe the Challenge part of your story would be more engaging if it was divided into two sections. Or perhaps the Solutions part could be made up of three sections.
#4 – Approach the Story from a Unique Angle
Every customer is a little different. Your job is to use that to your advantage by telling a unique story. In the Salesforce example, they told us how CoderDojo is helping the younger generation learn new skills. They also showed us that they are growing a community and that Salesforce is helping them to expand.
#5 – Show Your Customer’s Decision-Making Process
Prospects are reading your case study because they’re going through the process of making a decision. When you can show how your customer made their decision, the prospect will benefit. They’ll be able to see more clearly what was going on in your customer’s mind. And, if they are in a similar situation, it will mentally bring them closer to working with you.
Create Great Case Studies and Earn More Business
Case studies are an important part of your B2B marketing strategy. And spicing them up can really help you to convert more leads into new customers. So, consider using an engaging success story format and start watching the sales roll in.
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