Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Case for Case Studies

When I'm buying some product or service for the first time I like to know as much as I can before turning over my money. I'm eager to find out how others view whatever it is I plan to purchase. Thanks to the Web, there are lots of review sites like Yelp or Amazon where I can evaluate things based on the opinions of others. Ideally, I look for detailed and seemingly knowledgeable reviewers who describe in length their experience with what I'm interested in getting.

In the business world, finding such information is surprisingly hard. I've always thought company and product case studies have been underutilized for PR and marketing (and even sales) purposes. That may be changing. From mega-corps to sole proprietors, businesses of all sizes seem to be expanding their comfort zone and producing as much online content as they can, which, in many cases, includes longer, more informative documents than websites made available previously, like whitepapers and, yes, case studies.

Most businesses use testimonials to lend credibility to what they're selling. And for good reason--testimonials provide third-party assurance while highlighting a product's benefits. But it's often necessary to dig a little deeper. A case study can do that. A can study can do that and more. A thoughtful and well written case study serves multiple purposes: press release, data sheet, testimonial page, and more, all wrapped in a compelling narrative. It can draw in prospective buyers like bees to honeysuckle.

This can be especially important if what you're selling is new and innovative, or complex and esoteric. Its worth and benefits might not otherwise be easily apparent and understood. Or if it's pricey. A buyer might not be willing to take your company's word on its own merit, especially if big dollars are involved. Sure, an outside testimonial helps, but give the buyer a detailed and engaging story to sink his or her teeth into--a real-world tale about what another customer needed and how that customer's needs were met--and you're just a step away from closing a sale.

It's true. Case studies can help you close sales.

So if you're wondering whether or not your organization should get on the ball and produce some, the answer is...yes--case closed!

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