The power of the case study
When you’re winning new business, one of the biggest hurdles is proof of success – especially if the prospect hasn’t heard of you.
- by Peter Labrow
One of the best ways to get around this is to provide evidence which features companies that the prospect has already heard of, in the form of case studies.
The benefits are many-fold:
- You can bask in the established brands of your customers – and use those brands to increase your recognition and status.
- Case studies capitalise on your successes and stop those becoming tired old sales anecdotes.
- You can outline the many ways in which you added value, over and above the simple supply of a product or service.
- Case studies provide an excellent vehicle for a customer quote or endorsement.
- They demonstrate that you can adapt your products and services to different markets and size of customer.
- They allow the prospective customer to align his/her needs with a recognised brand leader.
- They demonstrate the strength of your customer relationships and commitment to project success.
- They provide ‘fence-sitters’ with the additional comfort that can swing them into making a buying decision.
What’s the best format for case studies?
- Short, preferably no longer than one side of A4.
- Factual and to the point.
- Include the customer name – case studies featuring a ‘well-known utilities company’ have far less impact – because the essential endorsement is missing.
- Bullet-point the key elements of the case study. * Modularise it: create standard elements (for example, ‘the customer’, ‘the challenge’ and ‘the solution’) and write to the same format each time. That way, when prospects flick through multiple case studies, they can focus on that information which is more relevant to them.
- Ask yourself of each case study: what’s the most important element of this project, from the potential customer’s perspective? * State clearly and without hype what the business benefit of your involvement was.
- Try to get a quote from the customer.
- Get the green light from your customer before setting pen to paper. There’s no point in spending time on a case study that a customer won’t sponsor.
- Always get written permission to publish.
- Don’t ask the customer to write it – it will never get done. Present the finished case study for approval and accept your customers’ changes with grace.
- Case studies always take longer than you think to get approved. Be prepared to keep pushing!