The Importance of Using Case Studies in B2B Marketing and PR

In marketing and PR terms, a case study is usually a written account (increasingly also produced in video format) of a project or application where a company’s products or services have been used to good effect. When drafted and used correctly, case studies are a rich powerful tool that can provide you with a whole host of collateral to use for your marketing and PR. We’ve pulled together a selection of tips that we think will help you get the most out of case study content:

1. Customer perspective
Creating a balanced case study is key to having something that will provide you with shareable content. While you want to showcase how effective your product or service has been, you don’t want to be overly gushing about it. Keep to the facts, how did you help your customer? Can you add any measurable values to it? For example did you save them money or time on a project? How much? Use values that will allow readers to build up a tangible picture in their head of just how valuable you are.

2. Structure it
Implement a house style for your case studies, this makes it easier and less time consuming for you to draft, and easier for the reader to absorb. A standard case study structure might look something like this:a.
a. The challenge faced – use this to create context for the reader
b. The solution you provided  – how did you address the issue?
c. The results – try to use measurable, numerical data to build a clearer view
d. Lessons learned – not always essential but can add value

3. Seek approval
Pictures are a great way to bring your story to life, and a must for breaking up big chunks of text, however if you don’t have access to your own photography don’t use images from websites without permission. While it might seem long-winded, it is worth the effort to gain third party approval rather than face the consequences of using material without consent.

4. Follow protocol
This ties in with seeking approval, but if you want higher value content it really is worth putting in the legwork to build relationships with third parties in order to get what you need. If there is a chain of approval, follow it. If the person you’re speaking with suddenly becomes distant or reluctant, stress that you appreciate their time is valuable and you’re hoping to pull something together that will be of benefit to everyone.

5. Treat it as raw content
While it might be easy to file the case study away and class it as a box ticking procedure, don’t let your efforts go to waste! Treat your case study as a raw piece of reusable content, which you can use in a number ways such as:

  • Twitter: Tweet short, succinct fast facts
  • Website content: Host a case study page on your website
  • LinkedIn: Share via your LinkedIn status but also in relevant industry group discussions
  • Sales collateral: Use in direct / email marketing campaigns to attract new customers
  • Press material: Case studies are really just stories, this makes them perfect for feature placement in industry magazines or use quotes from case studies in press releases
  • Internal communication: Don’t forget to share your success stories with the entire business, be proud of your work!
  • Industry awards: Add some credibility to your award entry by using your case study as a customer reference/testimonial

Remember, in B2B marketing case studies really are one of the most valuable tools you can produce. While you can sometimes be met with some resistance it’s worth persevering so you have a bank of evidence that shows why your brand is worth shouting about.

How Do You Draft Award-winning Copy?

As we approach award season – across various sectors – we are beginning to prepare entries for our clients, but just how do you draft award-winning copy?

  1. Stick to the word count
    This might seem obvious, but it’s very important. I have lost count of the number of times I have drafted an award entry and sifted through trying to remove every irrelevant ‘that’, ‘the’ and adjective, it is tedious. But the word count is there for a reason. Sadly while you may think your latest campaign deserves 1,000 words instead of 500, nobody else does. Challenge yourself to be eloquent enough in the limit you have been given. Judges have many entries to read through, if it says 500 words is the limit, stick to it.
  2. Keep it to the point
    This ties in with sticking to the word count that has been set, but while you are drafting the entry keep refreshing yourself with the question, are you really answering it? Or have you gone off on a tangent?
  3. If allowed, use supporting evidence and/or references
    Alongside writing an award entry it can sometimes be a challenge to obtain supporting evidence, such as case studies or references from customers. However if the opportunity allows you to provide this detail then it really is a must, it will strengthen your case and set you apart from the competition.
  4. Avoid industry jargon
    While you may be proud of being fluent in a sector not known to most, now is not the time to show off! Industry jargon can be off-putting, hard to decipher and frankly it’s just not necessary! Don’t hinder your chances just tell it how it is in plain English.
  5.  Proof read!
    This really can be as simple as hitting ‘spell check’ on your keyboard, just make sure your language settings are sent to English UK! Another function I like to use is the dictation setting, it’s really helpful to listen to your copy being read back to you. It’s perfectly understandable that after reading through your entry what feels like a million times, it can be hard to see the wood from the tress with accuracy. Using the dictation setting is really useful for flagging any grammatical mistakes or missing/additional words.
  6. Ask someone else to sense-check
    As I’ve said, you’ve read your entry what feels like a million times, you’ve removed as many words as possible without it sounding like bad English but ask someone else to have a read through as well. Give them the entry criteria to make a call as to whether they think you’ve answered the question, and ask them to pick up on any spelling and grammar mistakes.
  7.  Check it again – have you kept to the brief?
    Are you happy with what you have written? Remind yourself of the category, the brief, look through your draft and check your words against the criteria to make sure you’ve met it correctly. Ask yourself if you think this is the best it can be possibly be.
  8.  Keep to the deadline
    Now we all know that award entries are renowned for being extended, we also know that despite this we are always undoubtedly drafting copy right up to the eleventh hour! So, first of all don’t assume the deadline will be extended – they might call your bluff. Secondly, draft a timeline with actions, responsibilities and deadlines. This will help you to manage the process through far more efficiently. It’s also handy to have all the actions that need to be completed in front of you as a good starting point.
  9. Show some enthusiasm!
    You’d like to win right? Of course of you would! So make it sound like it. Be proud of your work, this is your chance to tell someone who knows absolutely nothing about your project and all that you have done to make it a success. I like to think of it as if I’m explaining to my parents what I do for a living…! Write with enthusiasm, this is your chance to shine.
  10. Be realistic
    You may have followed all the guidelines, and written the most compelling entry that you possibly can, but remember it’s a competition. The judges will receive many entries, and it’s difficult to make an impact when you’re up against 10, 20 or even 30 decent entries for your category. Don’t feel disheartened if you don’t make the shortlist and you’ve done your best, there will always be other opportunities