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Secrets of Case Study Winners: How B2B Marketers Can Create Successful Programs

by Paul McKeon  |  
March 8, 2011
  |  11,789 views

In this article, you'll learn...

  • How B2B marketers can effectively woo clients to do case studies
  • The elements of a winning case study program

We hear the objections all the time:

"We're not ready to endorse your product at this time."

"Our executives won't sign off on it."

"We don't want to tip our hand to our competitors."

"We don't do case studies with our vendors."


Excuses like those are a veil for not executing. Even as social media brings clients and vendors together to "engage in the conversation," you'd think that case studies would be easier to develop. But they are no less challenging than before.

In the face of hard resistance from clients, most B2B marketers manage to publish only a smattering of case studies.

Yet a few B2B companies stand out. Several interviewed for this article have strategically produced dozens (in one case, over 100) client case studies. Their success with case studies is not due to their products' superiority, but to their straightforward and calculated techniques for getting clients on board. As a result, their sales teams benefit from broad collections of case studies and first-class reference programs. This article reveals their secrets.


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Paul McKeon is the president of The Content Factor (www.contentfactor.com), a content-generation and information-architecture firm based in Atlanta. Reach him via 770-457-2489 ext. 227 or pmckeon@contentfactor.com.

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  • by Timo Kruskopf Tue Mar 8, 2011 via mobile

    So true and realistic! Seldom companies try to create refs and case studies to benefit both parties. Usually buyer organization has internal buy-in issue where perspective buyer-vendor article could do a diference, not midgeting buyer's benefits on customer relationships.

  • by Pamela DeLoatch Tue Mar 8, 2011 via web

    Paul-- excellent points about building the relationship throughout the process. When you work closely with a customer in an effort to help him be successful, you establish yourself as part of the team. Then, when you suggest documenting the success in a case study, it's not viewed as them doing you a favor--and it shouldn't be.

    As a case study writer, I know that there are many ways that a well-written success story can benefit both you and your customer.

    Pamela DeLoatch
    pamela@thewritinggenie.com

  • by @sightconsulting Wed Mar 9, 2011 via mobile

    I really valued the perspective, comparative example and purpose of the case studies. I am an advocate for case studies and have recently implemented a program through the help of a PR agency. The one area that we seem to be struggling over is educating the sales force on how to utilize them in the field. Maybe you could lend some insight into this. Otherwise, the blog was spot on!
    Thank you.

  • by Pamela DeLoatch Wed Mar 9, 2011 via web

    @sightconsulting-- a previous article here by Casey Hibbard lists 25 ways case studies can be used-- a number of them for sales training and in the sales field. Here's the link: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2009/2911/25-ways-to-build-trust-and...

  • by Laura Thu Mar 10, 2011 via web

    Excellent article. I have heard every excuse in the book from clients as to why they won't participate in a case study. In our industry (healthcare finance), contrasting data before and after the engagement of a vendor is gold. The challenge is two-fold: getting the "before" data from the client and getting them to lay out their problems for the world to see. Sometimes they know they need help but their antiquated systems make it difficult to quantify. Second, a case study invariably exposes their shortcomings. Not something most CFOs are eager to do. We have resorted to writing case studies of anonymous clients using anecdotal evidence. It isn't as powerful but it is better than nothing.

  • by Amanda Brandon Fri Mar 11, 2011 via web

    This article is so key to a marketing and sales teams' success. As a B2B copywriter, I always ask for success stories to illustrate email campaigns, brochures and web copy. However, I've always struggled to have enough "meat" to tell a story in a campaign. I've also worked with companies to develop case studies just because there might be a connection to a differentiator or industry. Educating the client on the fact that this is their success story would save everyone so much work. Thanks for a great article!

    Amanda Brandon
    www.acbcreative.com

  • by Mark Rechner Tue Apr 19, 2011 via web

    Does anyone have any examples of standard client reference and case study language that they use in their contracts?

  • by Stephanie Tilton Fri Apr 22, 2011 via web

    Paul, I think the biggest takeaways you offer marketers is that they need to be choosy and strategic about the stories they pursue, and they need to get involved early. Another terrific way to build up a case study library is by soliciting stories from customers. I recently wrote a post describing how SAS does a bang-up job of this:
    http://www.savvyb2bmarketing.com/blog/entry/1704251/case-studies-what%E2%80%99s-in-them-for-your-customers-

    Best,
    Stephanie

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