We know that B2B has a longer and more complex buying process than B2C, and therefore a longer buying journey. The key element of B2B marketing is connecting with the customer at the point they’re at in their journey. Then, moving them onto the next step (and the next, and the next…)
It’s a careful balancing act that’s important to get right. Go too hard too soon, and you can say goodbye to that prospect. Don’t make your case hard enough when they’re ready, and they’ll wave goodbye to you and head for your closest competitor.
Usually, these steps require different approaches and different content. What’s going to work for someone ready to choose a solution isn’t going to work for someone who hasn’t recognised their problem yet, right? Well, maybe not.
Case studies are a great content marketing asset to have on hand because they’re so versatile – suitable to use at multiple stages of the buyer’s journey. And because of this, they’re also incredibly valuable.
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Case studies should be used loud and proud
Despite how useful and valuable case studies are, some businesses just aren’t using them – or even creating them in the first place. Why? Well, we’ve heard it all:
“That’ll make me look like I’m tooting my own horn – it’ll put people off.”
“I can’t ask my customers to help me build one – they’re too busy, and they’ll resent it.”
“What if I send it at the wrong time and scare them off? Better to be safe than sorry.”
These are all common concerns for not utilising case studies more frequently in marketing activities. More often than not, those who have them let them sit on the website in some forgotten, seldom-visited tab.
But ask yourself – are any of these scarier than not attracting prospects? Not keeping them on the hook? Not landing the deal?
The Content Marketing Institute recently reported that case studies are the second most effective type of B2B content*. If that doesn’t get you rolling up your sleeves and writing, I don’t know what will.
Three journey stages, one piece of content
So, you’re ready to get stuck into creating amazing, business-winning case studies. But what sort of information do they need to contain, and at which steps of the journey can they have the most impact?
The humble case study goes a long way in marketing and can be a great asset to use at multiple stages of the buying journey to help move prospects to the next step and support them with the right information at each one.
1. Identifying a problem & establishing a need
Sometimes a buyer comes looking for a solution because they have a clearly defined problem. Other times, they don’t even realise that they have a problem. Case studies do one important thing first: show a prospect a business like themselves who recognised an issue (or an opportunity to improve). “Wow, they had this too, and they fixed it/saw it as a problem.” Their curiosity deepens.
It’s human nature to seek reassurance from others in the shape of shared experiences. A good case study will highlight the initial problem and why it was causing such pain – pain you want your prospects to identify with. At the same time, it also proves that there is a need to change – keeping up with the competition is important.
2. Proving a solution
When your prospect is at the same that they’ve recognised they have a problem that needs solving, they’re probably having a look at a few different solutions. They’re not going to throw money at the first person who offers them their services – how do they know your solution is right for them, and it’ll actually work to do what they need?
Well, the proof is in the pudding. Case studies show, often in the words of businesses who’ve done it themselves, that your solution is proven to solve their set of problems.
3. Being a preferred supplier
This is the time to show off. You’re near the end, and you know what your prospect wants (and so do they). You can afford to toot your own horn here and be more product and brand-focused. But also, what is more convincing than seeing that you are the preferred supplier for others? A case study is like a referral that you can use again and again – a real-life case of a business that loved your solution and is ready to tell the world that you’re better than the rest.
Case studies, the real MVP
Once you’ve put together your case studies, you want to be able to get the most use out of them as possible. Once finalised, you should be using them:
- In your out bounding efforts
Using assets as part of cold outbounding can be a great way to provide value and start a conversation with your prospects. A lot of these contacts are likely to be at the stage where they haven’t even recognised a problem – using a case study could help them recognise it.
- On your website
Your website is often the first place a prospect already looking for a solution will come to (especially if you’ve got good SEO and organic search set up). While your website copy should showcase your services and abilities, a case study can prove it.
- In your sales pitch or proposal
When you’re down to the final stages and trying to land a deal, include a case study or two in your final proposal or pitch. What better way to stand out from your competitors than showing an example of when you have beaten them before?
It’s important to remember the stages of the buyer’s journey and the examples of where you’ll be using your case studies when you create them. Remember to focus on the problem and need, your clients’ outcomes, and why they chose you over their other options. Concentrate on the client and their experience because that is what your prospect will identify with.
A great case study can go a long way. A reusable, evergreen asset that can be used from organic content to a serious sales pitch. If you’re still not sure about it, let us give it a go. We’ve written and utilised hundreds of case studies – just check out our content marketing chops.
*https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/2018-b2b-research-final.pdf (Slide 24)