For years now, content management has been the talk of the communication town. But what does content management mean precisely? And how can you make it work for and in B2B? Take a good look at case studies. Executed well, a case study can deliver real value in more ways than one.
In a case study, you analyze and highlight something your business did well using the challenge-solution-result format. Typically, that involves a problem you solved for a customer. The primary advantage is obvious: Even if you keep the results to yourself, this analysis will hopefully make it easier for you to duplicate a success. However, if you decide to share what you have found, you will reap a variety of other rewards.
Case studies make you look good
First of all, you get to talk about something that portrays your company and your team in a really positive light without appearing to be bragging. All you are doing is to highlight a problem and how it was capably solved.
This also shows that you care about your customers. They needed something and you used your experience and expertise to deliver. Since you can decide what the case study is on, you can demonstrate that you went beyond what could reasonably be expected. Or how you found a really creative, outside-the-box solution. Or that you delivered better-than-expected results. Ideally, you also want to get some testimonials from the customer you helped and get them to say good things about your work instead of you having to do it.
Spreading the word & making your case
A case study is essentially a (mostly) free advertisement for you. You get to look good to any potential customer/client. And that is precisely why you should want the case study to be spread as widely as possible.
Fortunately, case studies are perfect for being disseminated widely in a number of different ways. You can do it yourself in the form of a brochure or a presentation at a trade fair. You can also send it to the (trade) media. If that doesn’t work – or even if it does – you can publish it yourself, for example in the form of a blog on your website, and then distill social media posts from it. This allows you to maximize exposure as well as your return on investment.
Case study 101
Now all you have to do is find the right case study. One thing you should always aim for is to describe a solution with measurable results. Of course, it’s nice to have a customer say that they were happy with your work in generic terms. However, it is much better to have them rave about a solution that ended up cutting their production costs, reduced cycle times or allowed some other efficiency gains.
Obviously, if you want to name the customer, you also need to get their written permission. Don’t forget to get it beforehand or otherwise you won’t be able to make your case study public. Since case studies are something you should try to do periodically, it might be easiest to draft a standard waiver.
With all of the benefits you will get from this project, you will want to do the case study right. That’s why you should invest in photography/videography, graphic design as well as PR. Images will really allow the project to come alive. A graphic designer will turn the case study in to a professional-looking brochure or prestation. And a capable PR professional can ensure the difference from a trade magazine merely mentioning your case study and highlighting it in a multi-page spread with pictures.
And when it all comes together, a case study is the type of content that will really work for you. By showing what works, you will be able to brag about your accomplishments without overtly doing so. And because you can use the case study in so many different ways, you can generate real return on your communication investment.