Sometimes it’s Ok to Brag: the importance of case studies in B2B
03 February 2022
Ah, the (not so) humble case study. You’d be hard pressed nowadays to find a B2B marketing agency website that doesn’t have at least a couple of these, and it’s not difficult to see why. Case studies are a great way of showing off your skills to potential clients – but what is the importance of a case study, how do you write a good one, and what do you do if your past client wants to remain anonymous?
First, let’s take a quick look at what exactly a case study is, and what components it generally needs. A case study is essentially a (usually) short piece outlining a previous successful project your company has undertaken. The purpose of this is so that potential leads can visit your website and can look at a proven record of your solutions working successfully. People will always need to try before they buy, and it’s no different in B2B marketing. This is an excellent way to show off the fact that your company knows what it’s doing, by name dropping some of your best clients and the campaigns you created for them. But there is a thin line between showing why potential leads should use your services and blatantly boasting about how you’re the best. No-one likes a show-off. Ensure each part of your case study serves a purpose in furthering your sales process. First, talk about the purpose of the whole campaign – what were the challenges set for your team? Make sure you talk about who the campaign was targeted at – show potential leads that you know how to work a campaign to fit a particular audience or demographic. Then, what was your answer to the challenge? How did you meet the obstacles set. Last but not least, possibly the most important part, the results! Talk about how successful the end product was, using statistics to back yourself up.
Another excellent aspect that you can boost your case studies with are client testimonials. If your client is willing, ask them what they thought of your work on the campaign and how pleased they were with the results (chances are if this case study is on your website, they will have said all good things about you). Potential leads are much more likely to trust the words of your other clients than they are yours (a company they have absolutely no reason to trust – yet). If new potential leads see that you have built trusted relationships with clients, enough that those clients are happy to talk about it, it will go a long way to showing them that you’re the real deal.
There is one crucial aspect of a case study that I haven’t mentioned yet, which is actually the first step to take before you even begin to write it: permission. Always, ALWAYS ask your client if it’s ok to refer to them by company name in your case studies. After all, each campaign is a two-way street. You’re not just showing off your work in a case study, but your client company’s work and reactions too, so ensure you ask first before mentioning them. But, what if they say no? Remember, they are well within their right to do so, and you’ll probably encounter this hurdle many times in your B2B marketing life. Now, just because your client says no to having their name on the case study, doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel and not write it at all. If you truly believe writing a case study about that project will help your company draw in leads, then write an anonymous one. Anonymous case studies present a multitude of benefits, when done right.
Since there’s no client name attached to the piece, you don’t have to feel the need to make everything sound like it went off without a hitch. In reality, it very rarely does. Going anonymous allows you to explore what went off course or downright wrong throughout the campaign, without blaming or possibly offending anyone. Demonstrate to the reader how you used your solutions to overcome these unforeseen challenges – show them you’re prepared for anything thrown your way. This showcases a vulnerable, human side to your company that people will be able to relate to. It shows potential future clients that you don’t consider it a win unless your client wins, regardless of how big their name may be.
Now, if you’ve done a good job it’s unlikely that your client won’t want their name on there, but it could be a good idea for your overall B2B strategy to employ both regular and anonymous case studies to appear as authentic and truthful as possible to potential leads. Good luck!