Distributors frequently tout their strong customer relationships and the value-added services they provide. But, as I’ve said in my posts for Industrial Distribution in the past, many fail to share those stories widely as a part of their sales and marketing efforts.
Which is too bad, because case studies are an incredibly powerful medium for marketing your business. Case studies shift the point of view: They let customers tell your story for you.
Your prospects are doing more and more shopping online — researching your and your competitors’ products and services — before they reach out. In particular, Millennials — who are in decision-making positions now — are more likely than other generations to avoid sales until they have questions or are ready to place an order.
Case studies should be a valued tool in your toolbox because:
- They carry more weight than ads, product descriptions, or even blogs on your website. They are providing a third-party view of your products and services, so they are inherently more trustworthy. There’s a reason that sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have done so well.
- Case studies remind your prospects of their own pain, and give them hope of a solution. They show your prospects that you “get them.” When your subject describes how they solved the problem with your product, your prospect will see that they can do the same.
- Case studies take advantage of our hard-wiring for stories.
But take care when crafting your case studies. Here are a few tips for making the most of this important medium:
- Don’t compromise your foundation of trust by making your product or service sound “too perfect” in your case study. If you don’t include any negative details (such as a challenge with buy-in), readers will have a harder time believing the positive.
- Share where your featured customer started, including any mistakes they made along the way. Try to capture that emotion in the quotes you use. This sets the stage for your customer success story, and encourages your prospect to keep reading.
- When you can, get specific and include numbers. Avoid jargon words like “solutions,” “improved processes” and “better customer service.” Get specific: What solutions are you providing? Which processes, and by how much did they improve? Why do these processes matter to your customer? And what metrics can you share that represent “better customer service”? Response time, communication, fill rate?
- After you’ve published your case study, be sure to use that content across all of your channels, such as in a professionally designed PDF (printed for trade shows or leave-behinds at sales visits), a case study page on your website, a blog, links on social media and more. The content in your case study is valuable: Make full use of it.
Case studies perform well for good reason: They help establish the trust that a prospect is looking for when they are looking for a supplier, especially online. Because of this, they should be part of every company’s marketing plan.
Lindsay Konzak is president of 3 Aspens Media. She founded 3 Aspens Media to develop marketing and research-driven content for companies in or serving the distribution and manufacturing industries. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit 3aspensmedia.com.