Five steps to case study brilliance to open new biz tap

alan thorpeYour clients think your work’s hot. That’s brilliant. Then let’s warm up some new business by using your expended graft…

Facts tell, stories sell. Your stories – and how they are told – hold the power to take prospects from “you would say that” to a confidence inspired “hey, can we talk about how you might…”

Great case studies force open the new business valve. With a hard shove your inbound lead flow can go from a raspy parch to budget quenching slickness. Who wouldn’t want that? Shall we get started?

First things, well, first. Is your business focused?

Are you clear about which vertical or horizontal (or combo of both) you’re targeting? Why? The closer we can get your case studies to “fit” your targets, then the more shoulder shoving they can lend. And close fits get appointed without pitching more often.

Rule No 1: Know what matters to your audience
Effective case studies start with hard numbers that demand attention from your prospects. So, who are you trying to get to lean in? Everyone bangs on about knowing your target personas. But it’s for good reason. You can’t craft case studies that cut it, without first nailing down:

• Who’s going to be reading them?

• What’s in it for them?

An uncomplicated way to think of personas is:

• Who holds budget that pays your bills? Their job role? What KPIs win them their bonus?

• Who else influences decisions about appointing a business like yours? What’s their job role? What KPIs get them their bonus?

Rule No 2: Obsess your team with collecting numbers
So often I see brilliant work done and no results collected. A simple failure that trips new business. So, make sure your client delivery team collects hard outcomes from your work. Every time. Put it in their KPIs and reward their attention. Work in marketing? Then you’ve got to win over your internal audience to do this if you’re to secure growth.

Typical hard number outcomes to look for (but do align with your target personas) include:

Increase in new customers, sales, profit %, revenue. Lower costs, less time (efficiency). Greater loyalty and LTV. Faster response to clients, actioning better insight versus the competition; upped basket size. Less returns, lower complaints, less fines, increased net promotor score. More referrals. More recommendations. Better SEO rankings. Stronger media performance. Higher brand recognition.

Rule No 3: Give your prospects the tools to sell you
Effective case studies follow hard facts with softer benefits that make a buyer’s life easier. If there’s one thing that tech’s proven it’s that we’re suckers for an easy life. Google or local library?

Hard outcomes win you serious attention but job easing soft benefits win (often critical) additional advocacy. For less well-known brands softer benefits can soothe “what will my colleagues think if I appoint you” concerns. These include:

Ease of installation/working together vs. current situation/speed to live. Unique, proven and simple, processes; more insight and control, less handoffs, less failures, less perceived risk, removal of hassle.

Aim to arm your key buyer with benefits that they can sell to decision influencers. Chances are that they are in market for more reasons than pure hard outcomes…What you’re like to work with can be a winner.

Rule No 4: Play up heart benefits
Effective case studies demonstrate positives for a client’s career (plus that of their boss). It’s a human truth that making your client and their boss look fantastic is all a supplier must do.

We’re looking for stories that demonstrate “how well X has done by collaborating with us”. We’ve made them famous, got them promotion, won them an award. The best things to include:

Award wins, client testimonials (short video clips if you can get them), speaking slots that they’ve secured because of your work together (add links), casual mentions that they’ve been promoted (they were x, now they are y).

Aim high. If you think the ‘C’ suite might utter loveliness about your collaboration, then do try.

Rule No 5: Structure to keep studies punchy, short and CTA heavy
The job of the case study is to win you a conversation, not a deal. Here’s the structure that works for my clients:
Title that includes an eye-catching outcome, such as ‘How X brand sold 30% more in 1 year’. Bulleted core metrics you’ve positively shifted (select the top 3 that matter to your targets).

• Sales up by…

• Costs down by…

• Speed up by…

• Failures down by…

Short paragraph on soft metrics. X had Y problem. Together we applied our well proven Y process/solution in just Z months. Within weeks it enabled their team to (insert soft metrics).

Short paragraph/video on heart benefits with any relevant third-party logos that add ‘weight’: Client testimonial, award entries/wins/logos, links to them speaking about the work you’ve done together.

Calls to action: Keep in mind that, in B2B, up to 95% of your audience won’t be in market. So, give them options that keep you connected, long term. Mixing clients with prospects is a proven winner. They do the work for you…

• Got a KPI that you need to positively shift? Then book a 20 min call here.

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So, what are you waiting for?

Alan Thorpe is founder and strategy director of 3 Valued Things (3VT)

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