Write perfect B2B case studies - 7 golden rules

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A carefully written case study will turn your customer's success into success of your own, by acting as a powerful piece of evidence-laden content

As we described in why you should be writing B2B case studies, they satisfy multiple demands of B2B marketing and should feature in almost every marketing plan.

Anyone can write a great case study, just observe the following guidelines:

1. Think of them as success stories

Approach every case study from the perspective that you are writing about the success of a customer, not of your own. Yes, you need to feature in the story, but this approach will produce a more compelling, more credible and more worthy piece of content and will avoid it becoming an overt sales pitch, which will turn prospects off.

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2. Align each case study to the buying process

Any case study is a start. But, as we described in turn your sales collateral into sales content, case studies that are aligned with the buying process will have greater success at moving prospects forward in that process. Which stage you can align the case study to will often be predestined, you just have to be ready for the opportunity.

3. Always chose a customer you can name, if possible

There are some industries where naming a customer in a case study might be impossible, but not many. Always try to obtain a full and firm attribution agreement with your customer. If you can't, think twice about your case study. Your prospects are unlikely to fully trust anonymous accounts of your success.

4. Research the customer, again

Telling a compelling success story relies upon knowing exactly how your offering has contributed to your customer's success. This begins with knowing exactly what they do. Is also requires an understanding of the parameters and language of success in their particular in industry. All this can be discovered relatively easily using the web - refer to their website, their competitors' websites and, the secret weapon, Wikipedia for source material.

5. Conduct an interview

Case studies without customer testimonial are bland and ineffectual. What you really want is  the customer telling the story of their success in their own quotable, and therefore more believable, words. A telephone interview is a great way to achieve this.

6. Write your case study

If you've done all of the above, this should now be the easy bit. Well, it should at least be easier as you will just have to provide the narrative that traverses between your customer's quotes. They key elements you have to worry about are:

  • An introduction to the customer's business
  • Presentation of the business challenge, in a positive way
  • An account of why/how your solution was selected and implemented
  • Detailed description of the benefits realised by they customer

7. Reinvent it

Once your basic case study is written and approved, you have a valuable, reusable asset in your hands. Take your pick of the following applications:

  • Add it to your website - use the full text to get the full SEO benefit
  • Artwork it into a powerful piece of sales collateral
  • Use the best quotes as testimonials on the web, in collateral and in proposals
  • Blog about it
  • Share socially and/or by email
  • Turn it into a press release

What could go wrong?

If you followed the above steps, nothing right? Actually, quite a lot can go wrong with case study production. Read about common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

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