I recently read an article in which the author suggested focusing on reviews instead of case studies. The author cited research that indicated that 73% of marketers use case studies, and 65% feel they are an effective tactic.

He also cited Demand Gen Report's 2013 B2B Content Preferences Survey that stated 92.6% of the respondents said they were willing to consider vendor-created content as trustworthy, even though a much smaller 30.4% strongly agreed with the statement. And 71.6% of the respondents said they now "place a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness" of the content they view. He went on to say that the case study may no longer be viable because...

  • Case studies have limited shelf lives.
  • Case studies are vendor-generated, so they may not be perceived as trustworthy.

I agree that today's buyers have become much smarter and more self-informed in the decisions they make. They expect vendors to earn their trust, and they no longer take vendor-generated content for granted. However, I don't think we should throw out case studies.

Vendor-generated content can come off as trite when it appears in an advertorial or a paid study offered by an analyst firm—but so can a product review if that review looks to be generated by the vendor, either on its own site or on an independent product review site.

I argue that the case study and the product review are alive and well, and still very much viable pieces of "owned" and "earned" content.

Why Case Studies Still Matter

Case studies can be viable content, provided that vendors offer relevant, thoughtful, and engaging information in their case studies.

The content in the case study must make a connection. Vendors must create content that resonates with buyers. The content must prove that vendors not only understand what buyers are going through but also want to take the journey with buyers to help them be successful. That happens when vendors continually listen to their target market, deliver the content buyers want, test the content to ensure it resonates with buyers, and make the necessary changes so buyers have an enjoyable experience when exposed to the content.

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Sue Duris is president of M4 Communications Inc., a Palo Alto, CA-based marketing strategy and communications firmthat helps technology, entertainment and nonprofit organizations build and extend their brands. Reach her via sduris@m4comm.com.

Twitter: @M4_Comm
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