One content asset that frequently creates frustration for technology marketers is the case study. Often, efforts to pull together real-world examples of use cases are hampered by a number of challenges.
So, why do marketers need case studies and why is it worth overcoming the challenges to make them happen? Case studies can be ‘killer’ content for tech marketers. For sceptical business and technical decision makers they provide the evidence that backs up sales and marketing claims. For sales teams, case studies make great anecdotal material for customer conversations. For some marketers, they can even form the basis of campaigns. And when you can turn a case study into a video, you have an asset that can reach a wide audience again and again.
Amongst other marketing advantages, the case study can be a powerful objection handler but ironically it often fails to materialise because of objections from customers, brand and legal departments or even sales executives.
Possible barriers to toasting your success
Of course, some objections can be valid: it’s too soon after project delivery; results data needs substantiation; the original decision maker has moved on. However, some obstacles to case study production can and should be overcome. For example, schedule an agreed date to complete a case study when the project has matured but lay down the basics in a draft case study with the customer now. If data needs substantiation then leverage the idea that empirical evidence on improvements and benefits are of equal importance to the customer. If the original decision maker has moved on it’s likely that other advocates can be found from the original influencing and decision making group. After all, few technology purchases are attributable to just one person.
Brand and legal guardians on the customer side can also object to case studies but the onus has to be on them to explain their reasons or at least identify the appropriate terms and conditions of the supplier/customer relationship or agreement. It may also be worth a little desktop research into any infringements by other companies that may help to bolster your case.
Whilst case studies can be valuable to marketers, if politics or practicalities preclude their publication, there are some potential get-arounds. These include the more obvious ‘anonymising’ of the customer and careful editing of content that can risk identifying the customer.
Case studies can be difficult to conjure up on demand so the creation of a structured customer advocacy programme with mutual benefits can provide a more strategic and workable solution. Alternatively, a vertical industry case study compiled from a number of anonymous customer examples can be a more tactical solution if time is not on your side.
Even a slightly compromised case study can be better than no case study.
Take a look at our quick guide to discover how content can be more ‘killer’ and less ‘filler’.