Are you trusted?
Selling successfully requires building trust and showing the value you deliver in all your on-line marketing – even before any direct contact with a prospective client.
Why? Because today’s business buyers don’t contact suppliers directly until 57% of the purchase process is complete! Compelling case studies in your content marketing ensure you’re part of that first, critical stage of their process.
Prospective suppliers get very little attention from busy buyers of B2B services, who prioritise time with current service providers over new ones. The C-level execs you’re probably targeting spend no more than one hour each week with external suppliers, from research.
So to influence new prospects, to win new business, you need to show the endorsement of current users of your services. It’s critical in the process of building credibility fast, using authenticated facts and genuine insights.
Let someone else blow your trumpet in your digital marketing.
This contrasts with the conventional approach to selling services, which focuses on “this is what we do, these are the benefits; this is the business case and why you should trust us”.
Case studies meet two of the Six Principles of Influence identified by Robert Cialdini as paramount – the first being ‘Social Proof’.
It’s based on people’s sense of ‘safety in numbers’ and following the herd.
We’re more likely to eat in a restaurant if it’s busy or to work late if others in our team do the same. We’re most susceptible to be influenced if the people seem to be similar to us – for B2B sales, that means from similar users or sectors of industry.
So when you have good quality case studies it’s reassurance for your other new contacts. Particularly if the clients you cite are known brands – which leads us to the second Principle of Influence: which is ‘Authority’.
Authoritative recommendations by respected brands reinforce credibility and persuade us to accept what people say. That’s why case studies are critical in any digital marketing programme.
Six Top Tips for Case Studies
As a tactical tool, it’s a case of ‘the more the merrier’: you want a constant supply of new stories, to refresh and replenish your portfolio – as clients move away (which they do) and your service portfolio evolves (which it will) and you solve new problems.
Here’s how to make a case study programme work for you:-
1. Plan how and where to use your application stories for best effect. The obvious place is on your web site – but locate them up front, on the Home Page. The evidence is that a logo (and short quotation), with a link to a more detailed exposition on a dedicated page, is the most effective positioning. (Also you can link to these pages in your emails and marketing PDF brochures).
This starts to build trust from the outset, in answer to the unspoken question in the visitor’s mind: “where’s the proof I should invest my time in reading any further?”
2. Show the problems you solve. People buy for one of only two reasons: 1) to feel better or 2) to solve a problem. In B2B sales it’s usually the latter, so you want to show a troubling issue for the reader for which you offer a unique solution.
3. “Quotation marks get attention”. We’re interested in what people think, what they say, so reported speech boosts interest. Ideally the quote should add something extra to the main narrative description of the rest of your content, providing a more personal insight and endorsement.
Here’s why: “When we read reported speech it triggers the same auditory pathways as a verbal conversation: research shows that readers are more likely to engage in spontaneous imagery of the reported speaker’s voice”.
4. Video case studies and testimonials. Increasingly there’s a move towards filmed application stories – as it’s easier to consume and personalises the recommendation and the client’s story.
People like video: simply using the word ‘video’ can improve click-through rates by as much as 20%.
Note though that only around 25% of recipients tend to watch until the end of the video – so we want to keep the film short and to the point.
5. An opportunity to ‘cross-sell’ and ‘up-sell’: the contact with the client is valuable in itself. It provides a chance to find out whether you can provide additional services and also to ask for a referral.
And perhaps to identify whether your team can do anything differently to retain the business. In the case of many case study interviews over the phone, I’ve found it’s a rare event not to find some nugget of information that can add to the client relationship.
Case studies demonstrate good customer care to the nominated client. It’s flattering for the client you’re asking, and people like to help (certainly if it costs them nothing) – so it’s good for the relationship. If they publicly endorse your service, they’re less likely to terminate it, because we have a deep desire to be consistent (another of Cialdini’s Principles of Influence: Consistency).
6. Last but not least, the client contact is invaluable for the same reason as a client ‘win review’ is in helping you to get more new business in the future.
Here’s why according to sales leadership author Tony J Hughes: he says win reviews – far more useful than loss reviews – enable you to identify the trigger events that caused prospective clients to decide they had a serious problem or opportunity in the first place. The sage of sales says: “The best sellers seek alignment with the ideal prospective customer rather than attempting to raise the dead through extreme evangelism”.
Summary: so then, developing new case studies can help you:-
- make that critical great first impression with new prospects
- prove your business case
- retain existing clients
- cross-sell, up-sell and win referrals, and
- profile and identify new prospects just like your best clients.
It sounds like time spent on testimonials and case studies is time well spent. So for the reassurance of professional help with generating case study content, easily and consistently, have a look at this video.
To find out for yourself, and if perhaps you have a case study in mind, please let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org