Business to business case studies

 In B2B, Marketing

I’ve recently been seeking a specialist service provider on behalf of a client so have been speaking to various businesses for the first time about what they do and how they do it. It always interests me how other companies handle new business leads (especially ones that that they haven’t had to go out and fight for!)

In this instance what has surprised me is how unprepared people often are when you ask for relevant case studies (in this case, three out of three didn’t have anything ready prepared.)

In the land of B2B, well-constructed case studies are a crucial element in your new business toolkit, particularly where the product or service involves some kind of visual output. They can demonstrate your commercial understanding, strategic thinking, product or service quality, results focus and even help convey an element of personality – all crucial when you’re trying to warm up a lead.

Here are a few pointers that we tend to follow when we’re creating case studies for clients:

1. Set the scene

Make sure you provide some relevant context to the work – perhaps some background on the client or the marketplace. This helps to provide an overall context to the case study and shows that you appreciate the bigger picture.

2. Outline the brief, including any explicit objectives

Again, this helps to create a fuller understanding of the project and will also demonstrate your commercial understanding and awareness of how the project fitted into your client’s overall business objectives.

3. Demonstrate strategic thinking

Don’t just say what you did, but try to demonstrate the thinking that got you there. Adopting a strategic approach is always a valuable characteristic in a supplier and this is a great way for you to demonstrate your ability to prospective clients.

4. Speak to the client

You should always make sure you have permission to feature a client’s work, particularly if you are going to put the case study in the public domain e.g. on your website. It’s also useful to speak to the client to make sure you are referencing the most recent results and they may even be able to provide you with a glowing quote to feature!

5. Include visuals where possible

If you’re a design agency, it’s clearly crucial to show the work you did. But I would apply this to any sector where there is a visual output – whether that’s windows in a building or printed materials, or anything in between. It helps to bring the case study to life.

6. Categorise where appropriate

If your company offers a number of services, it may be worth including a quick bullet point list of the ones that that particular case study is relevant to. If nothing else, this will help you to assess quickly whether a case study is relevant for a particular enquiry.

7. Use a clear and consistent layout

If you’re supplying someone with a number of case studies, not only does it look more professional if they appear consistent, they will be easier for the reader to navigate and digest.

Break up sections with headers, and use bullet points, bold type, photos and charts as appropriate.

8. Refer to results

Not referring to results is like telling a story and leaving off the ending, not to mention completely ignoring commercial context. If you can, always try to quantify the success of the project by referring back to the original objectives. Hard numbers are preferable, but if you can’t get them then a client quote or some more anecdotal feedback can be used.

And of course, if you don’t have the time or the inclination, just give us a call and we can produce a set of professional case studies for you, ready for your next enquiry!

 

Further reading

http://blog.kissmetrics.com/creating-a-great-case-study/

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33282/The-Ultimate-Guide-to-Creating-Compelling-Case-Studies.aspx

http://www.valuablecontent.co.uk/creating-case-studies-that-sell/

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