Process

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What’s the First Step You Need to Take to Create Successful, Effective B2B Case Studies?

Successful, effective B2B case studies increase sales of the products and services that will grow your company’s top and bottom lines.

First and foremost, you need to identify and assess your sales and marketing goals and strategies.

Ask your sales, finance, and marketing staff which products and services can:

  1. Boost your bottom line/profitability?
  2. Grow your top line/volume?
  3. Increase volumes and profits?
  4. Benefit from a greater sales and marketing focus?

Ask your sales reps, account managers and customer success staff (they know your customers best!):

  1. Which industries and niches need your product or service the most?
  2. Is demand greater in a certain geographic region or country?
  3. Can your existing team sell into that area?
  4. What company demographic will benefit most from your product or service?
  5. How long will it take (3, 6, 12 or 18+ months) for customers to experience benefits such as cost savings, improved efficiency/productivity and enhanced internal/external customer service?

Once you have the answers, you and your teams can develop the criteria you’ll use to select the satisfied customers that will help you reach your sales goals.

CRITERIA:

  1. Product or service to be highlighted
  2. Industry
  3. Region
  4. Size of company (sales volumes, # of employees, # of customers)
  5. # of months or years using your product/service

In the next step, we’ll look at how to ask customers to participate in your B2B case studies:

Prospects need to find, scan and read your B2B case studies to figure out how your products and services will solve their pain points.

So before you decide what you’ll call your B2B case studies and where you’ll put them, visit your top 5 to 10 competitors websites. See if you can find their B2B case studies? How long did it take? How frustrated did you get?

Let’s tackle the what and where issues by asking these simple questions:

WHAT?

  1. What do your competitors call their B2B case studies? Did you eventually figure out that “Success Stories”, “Customer Success”, “Our Clients” and “Our Work” all described B2B case studies?

RECOMMENDATION: Call them what they are – B2B case studies – keep it simple and make it clear.

WHERE?

    1. Where do competitors post their B2B case studies? Did you have to click or rollover “About Us”, “What We Do”, “News”, “Who We Are”, “News” or “Blog” to access them via a drop-down menu? Did you have to scroll through tons of home-page text and images to find them on the bottom rail? How did you feel about that?!

RECOMMENDATION: Give your B2B case studies their own tab or button on the top rail to make them HIGHLY visible and INCREDIBLY easy to find.

HOW?

      1. How do your competitors present their B2B case study information? Was the look and style of the B2B case study consistent with the company’s image and brand? Did you find everything you needed on the first or second page of the B2B case study? Did you have to read the entire B2B case study to find the problems, solution and results? Were you frustrated or bored?

RECOMMENDATION: Your B2B case study design and layout should reflect your brand and build trust in your professionalism as well as your products and services. Put the problems/challenges, solution and benefits/results on the first page. Put them in bulleted or numbered lists. Use boxes or coloured screens to make them highly visible. Headlines, sub-heads, decks, company logos, photos/images, blocks of text and lists pull prospects in and direct them to the most relevant information, the challenges, solution and results.

Here’s my best advice – act and think like one of your own prospects to figure out what to call your B2B case studies, where to put them and how to design and present them.

Consistency is crucial when you’re talking to customers through your B2B case studies. It builds trust. It tells prospects you’re predictable and dependable.

Busy prospects want quick, easy access to the information that’s most relevant to them, so they need to be able to find and scan the customer’s problems, solution and results at a glance.

Every B2B case study needs to present the information prospects need in the same logical order, while your layout points them right to that information.

Ideally, you put them on the first page and graphically differentiate them from the text.

Content:

  1. Customer profile: The relevant company-specific information will vary depending on your product or service and industry. You want your prospects to see that you’ve helped companies that are just like theirs. They need to recognize themselves in your customers to know you can help – so put the customer profile right at the top!A profile typically includes:RECOMMENDATION:
    1. Company name, # of years in business (year it was founded)
    2. What it does – products or services?
    3. Any particular niche or specialization?
    4. # of locations, # of employees?
    5. Local, national or international sales?
  2. Challenges/problems: Your product or service exists because companies in this industry face similar issues. Prospects need to know you solve problems like theirs all the time. Put them right after the customer profile.

    RECOMMENDATION:

    1. 3 to 5 key challenges because more may dilute the message and its impact
  3. Solution: Keep it simple – name your company and the product or service.

    RECOMMENDATION:

    1. Elaborate on the features and capabilities in the content
    2. Let your customer quotes speak directly to prospects about why your solution worked so well for them
    3. Avoid over-the-top adjectives and statements that will come across as overly promotional and therefore unbelievable.
  4. Results: They should directly relate to the challenges and problems that were presented. I like the term results – it’s clear and direct. Some customers apply the term benefit can also be applied to the outcomes the customer achieved after implementing your solution.

    RECOMMENDATION:

    1. Each result is linked to a problem or challenge. If possible, the prospect sees each challenge/problem and the result that was achieved thanks to your solution.
    2. Quantifiable, measurable results will influence prospects more than generalizations. Tell them exactly how your solution affected your customer’s business. It cut production costs by 5%, improved delivery times by 20% and reduced rejects by 7.5%. If broad statements are your only option, ask your customer to give you an example of reduced delivery times, improved quality and increased production.
When asking satisfied customers to participate in your B2B case studies, always SHOW them your case studies so that they know exactly what to expect.

They need to see previous B2B case studies, but they also need to know more about the process. How long will it take? How much control do they have over the final text? Write a short note outlining your B2B case study process.

To make it as easy as possible every time, create a B2B case study invitation template that includes:

  1. Examples of your B2B case studies:
    • attach at least 2 case studies so that customers know what to expect
    • include links to up 3 case studies just in case they don’t open the PDFs
    • provide a PDF of the proposed layout and text template if this is your first B2B case study
  2. The purpose of your B2B case studies:
    • sharing the challenges your satisfied customer addressed with your products/services
    • highlighting their results (time and financial savings; improved productivity, efficiency, internal and external customer satisfaction; reduced waste/rejects)
    • promoting the best practices that benefit the customer’s industry
  3. Full information and disclosure about your B2B case study process:
    • confirm they will have final approval on all text, images, logos, layout
    • advise them the phone interview will take about 30 minutes
    • share the standard interview questions which will be customized for their company once they agree to the interview
    • tell them you’ll send their interview questions well before the scheduled phone interview
  4. Where the B2B case studies will be used and how:
    • B2B case study PDFs will be posted to your web site
    • print format B2B case studies may be shared at conferences, trade shows etc
    • B2B case study information may be included in speeches and presentations
    • press releases on B2B case studies may be sent to trade and business media
    • links to B2B case studies and facts will be on social media
  5. Suggest they run your B2B case study invitation by their marketing and legal teams:
    • Your operations, finance or production contact may need approval from another department
    • If their company is unable to participate for whatever reason, it’s best to know before you start the B2B case study process

    Now that you’ve reviewed the four steps we need to take before launching your B2B case study campaign, let’s get started!

Contact your B2B Case Study Writer, Kara Kuryllowicz, by email or phone, 416-465-7466, to discuss your specific needs and timelines.

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“Because Kara understands our business and appreciates the subtleties of corporate communications, she gets our messages across to internal and external stakeholders. She makes a point of delivering on our high expectations and tight deadlines.”

SHARON MACKAY, LABATT BREWERIES