Do case studies really work for SMEs?

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Is your content a bit tired?

Case studies can help. The statistics have shown this time and time again. Case studies are statistically the favourite content of B2B buyers. According to copyhackers.com, nearly 64% of survey respondents share case studies with colleagues. On top of this, the content walks the buyer through the customer journey before they embark on it themselves. They can stop to appreciate all the nice touches you’ve added to the journey along the way. This helps to calms doubts and fears that can create resistance.

So here you have a genre that is evidenced and can fit into any niche. All in all, it’s a great way to diversify your content and add authority to your brand.

The case for storytelling

The human appetite for stories is literally insatiable. For our mammal brains, stories are more addictive than sugar. In various studies, it has been shown that we automatically create narratives from seemingly disconnected events in order to create meaning. This helps us make sense of a chaotic world.

So, if we hear that “on a dark and windy night Paul crept up the stairs”, our interest is piqued. Why is he creeping? Who is Paul? Our brain wants to know, even if he’s made up.

Try this one, “A man walked up the stairs…” Not so much.

The named example meets the specificity criterion, i.e. we needs specifics to believe it. This need for detailed information also extends to numbers, hearing a statistic like “74.4%” is far more intriguing than “roughly ¾”. This curiosity is all part of the same mechanism.

Paul Zak, a Neuroeconomist and head of ZESTx Labs, claims that we are so tuned in to the act of storytelling, that we will act in response to a story for up to an hour after it’s told.

What else does that show? Well, it is evidence that stories are not only influential, but they are also memorable.

What can it do for you?

It’s not one size fits all: 

First of all, a copywriter works out your needs. Who is your target audience?  A small local business may have a basic story that explains how diligent they are, whereas a B2B product will often be sold on the technical details. Knowing your customer is crucial here.

Content that keeps giving: 

Done. Your case study is shiny, polished and ready to go. What’s next? Well, the content can be repurposed depending on your needs. There are many formats, and the data you gather can be fit into any of them.

A taster can be prepared for social media, boiling down the most important statistics.

Alternatively, some platforms require mid-sized case studies, with some of the finer details left out. These one are great for cold emails, when your audience is pressed for time and patience.

Finally, there’s long-form case studies. These allow for elaboration on your key points, including developed perspectives from customers, extensive quotes, and more.

In this way, one piece of content can have many different purposes and fit in with various business needs.

Then what?

From there you can do any of the following:

  • Add links to your website
  • Add links to your business cards
  • Use case studies at trade shows
  • Use them as the basis to create video content
  • Link them with your blog content
  • Show them as a sign of authority and trustworthiness

The first steps to creating great case studies

So you’ve decided to go ahead and give it a try and you’re wondering how to get started. Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Mine your past sales for stand-out stories. These will focus on attributes of your business that you want to emphasise and fit with your broader business objectives.
  1. Be careful not to miss the story – they aren’t always obvious. A lot of companies go the extra mile and forget to shout about it – it’s just the way they always operate so they wouldn’t think to tell anyone.
  1. Reach out to the customer to get quotes and testimonials. Happy customers are often happy to share their experience.
  1. Get in touch and I can write it up!

Summary

So I told you how great case studies are for many different reasons. They connect to our human need for stories, they react to the ever-growing desire for social proof of a product, and most importantly they really work. The evidence shows this every time.

Your case study can be spun into many different formats depending on your needs and, importantly, deciding which story to use forces you to reflect on your customer journey. This can have knock on effects for the whole business if you realise something you’d previously missed.

I hope I’ve made my case! To find out more about what I offer, get in touch at philwesternwrites@gmail.com.

Comment

9 Replies to “Do case studies really work for SMEs?”

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