Case studies are one of the very best ways to demonstrate how your products and services have met the needs of your clients. In the B2B world, the buying decision may include many people and is more emotional than a B2C decision because of what is at stake. Case studies have long been recognized as a way to help in the decision making process, to validate choices, and nurture trust. They can be even more powerful when they are presented in a storytelling format that focuses more on what happened to the client, than on the products and services they used.
Guide your prospects down their buying journey
Case studies have a very important place in the buying journey in both the consideration and decision stages. Because today’s buying journey is not linear, it’s possible that a buyer’s first experience with you could be with a case study so having them easily accessible on your website is important. They should also be used to help guide your prospects to a decision in your email marketing. Supplying printed leave-behinds for sales gives prospects the chance to linger over the content after the sales meeting has ended.
Chronology Doesn't Activate Empathy
The classic case study format starts with a client problem or situation; goes into what the company did to solve the problem or remedy the situation for the client; then goes into the client outcome. It's a mistake to make the main focus what you did for the client. This often ends up sounding like a chronology - this happened, then this happened, then this happened.
Focus instead of the the impact that your work had on the overall business of their client, and let the client tell the story that they want to tell. You might be surprised at how little they talk about the details of what you did for them, but you'll get a story that uncovers their distress and why they needed to solve a problem. This is what activates empathy and the opportunity to connect with the reader on an emotional level.
You are not the hero
The case studies that guide your prospects down their buying journey are not really going to be about you. You are not the hero in this story, your client is. Ditch the chronology format and your list of Q and As and have more of an open-ended conversation with the people who were part of the decision or project. That doesn’t mean that you become just a note taker. You have to be a keen listener and recognize when the person is touching on something that, with a little nudging, will reveal the greatest insight.
The result of storytelling is an emotional connection
When you present your work from your client's perspective, you can create an emotional connection by activating the reader's brain chemistry. Neuroscience has shown us that our brains love stories. We respond to good stories with empathy, and that opens up the door for the reader to enjoy the experience more, to better understand the information and to retain it better. Empathy also incites action, and isn't that what you want in the process?
Related: Get the Case Study Guide - How to Build Credibility, Grow Trust and Close Sales with Case Studies
How to get client stories
One of the best ways to find client stories is to start getting testimonials. Knowing that the conversation is about a testimonial is a good way to get people on the phone. Contributing a sentence or two to help you out doesn’t take a huge investment of their time. People are much more eager to talk about their experiences with your company than you might think. These conversations can uncover juicy topics for customer stories when the interviewer tunes into the client’s success at achieving their goals.
Your client's story can help you improve your business
Sometimes management might hold back on letting marketing talk to clients because everything isn’t perfect. That doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get a story out of them. When there are relationship or delivery problems, perhaps a “how’s it going” conversation is best. Who knows, you could discover that the client is not using your service correctly and additional support is not only going to help them, but will increase your customer satisfaction and retention across the board.
Let me help you tell your stories
Your customer story is the important story that you need to tell in your business. Let me help you tell that story and uncover other ways that business storytelling can make your marketing and communications more effective. Schedule a time to talk.