Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ten reasons to love customer case studies

Case studies tell true stories about how your products or services helped customers solve their problems—and they do so in a format your prospects can easily relate to. In fact, customer case studies represent one of the most effective ways to boost the impact of your B2B marketing communications program because these problem/solution stories help build your company’s reputation, expand your presence in trade publications and on the Web, and aid the selling process.

Here are ten reasons you should consider adding customer case studies to your marketing arsenal:

1. Build credibility – As objectively written stories of how actual customers benefited from your company’s products and services, published case studies carry high credibility with readers. Technical details and photos add to their believability.

2. Reach primary and secondary target markets – Case studies are readily accepted by trade and Web editors because they provide valuable information for their audiences. This means that you can reach secondary markets and vertical markets where you can’t afford to advertise.

3. Generate inquires – Experience has shown that published case studies are as good or better at generating inquiries and Web site visits as advertising. These inquiries give you additional sales opportunities.

4. Demonstrate results – Case studies give you an opportunity to actually demonstrate how your products benefit a customer. By following a problem-solution format, these features show how your product or service increases productivity, improve quality, saves money, etc.

5. Third-party endorsement – When a case study is published by a respected trade publication or Web site, it carries an implied endorsement from both the customer and the editorial staff. Editors are endorsing your product and company by giving you access to his or her readers.

6. Displace the competition – Since editorial space in trade publications is always limited, every article of yours that gets published eliminates an editorial opportunity for your competition.

7. Integrate advertising messages – By choosing the right customer applications for your case studies, you can support your overall advertising effort by multiplying exposure to your key marketing messages.

8. Create future editorial opportunities – When you provide editors with a regular supply of case studies over time, editors will begin calling on you with additional editorial opportunities.

9. Employ the same content for multiple uses – Once developed, case studies provide a myriad of opportunities for leveraging the material. They can be placed in a single publication, mass distributed to a variety of publications, printed as a sales handout, produced as a downloadable feature from your Web site, and used as fodder for various product and corporate brochures.

10. Low cost, high returns – Case studies represent one of the best ROIs of any B2B marketing communications tactic. Development costs are generally modest, and when you can create something of interest to editors and readers, the editorial space and Web exposure you gain is free.

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