B2B direct response copywriting legend Bob Bly quotes Heather Sloan on case studies’ ability to outperform every other type of B2B content:
"Everyone loves a story," explains Heather. "An old adage says, 'A picture is worth 1,000 words.' Never did this wisdom ring truer than in sales conversations and marketing pieces. Stories paint pictures. Stories evoke emotions. Stories are memorable. Stories give your presentations sticking power. The easiest way to tell a marketing story is by case study."
Why Case Studies Work Well...And Will Never Lose Their Persuasion Powers
Case studies will never lose their ability to convince. They worked before “content marketing” existed as an idea. They work now. And they’ll continue to work.
Let me explain why:
1. Human Minds Are Wired to Remember Stories (Not Facts)
Ever hear the marketing cliche,”Facts tell. Stories sell.” It’s truth. Not just a random thing to say.
When you listen to a boring presentation filled with facts and numbers, Broca’s Area and Wernicke’s area of your brain activate. Your brain decodes words into meaning.
That’s it. Not much. Let’s move along already...
However, when you hear a story, the whole game changes. Every sensory experience described activates the corresponding area of your brain.
In other words, just a short story could engage your entire brain. Describe the deliciousness of a certain food, and your sensory cortex activates. Tell an emotional story of hardship or success, and your insula activates.
Case studies put that effect to work for you.
2. You Offer Convincing, Third-Party Proof You Can Do As You Promise
Liken case studies to dating. In modern dating, you check out your potential date’s online profile. You might cleverly (creepily?) stalk them on their social media profiles too.
You get an unbiased point of view. You can get some sense of what this person might really be like. In person, you know they’ll likely present the best version of themselves. And you know they, like everyone, have their plusses and minuses.
A case study works the same way. Yes, you ultimately create and promote it. But your prospect responds because they objectively see themselves in your case study, and not because of any bias or spin you put on it.
3. Prospects Can Sell Themselves
Since prospects can now do most of their own research online without the guidance of sales, they do just that.
They don’t want any bias involved. They want to make the best decision for their company.
With a case study, they get factual information from your customer. They have no bias telling them what or how to think. They learn your customer’s situation, see how it fits their own, and can make a decision in their own best interest.
4. Case Studies Work at the Bottom of the Funnel
While case studies alone can take your customers from cold to excited to buy, they generally work when your prospects already have strong interest.
80% of B2B buyers consume at least 3 pieces of content (and up to 7 or more) before calling your sales team. See this data from DemandGen’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report:
Since case studies have the most overall potency, they’ll also naturally be the most powerful at the bottom of your funnel too.
5. You Don’t Fall Into the Blatant Self-Promotion Trap
Let’s be honest: case studies really exist to promote your product or service.
..But they can’t come off that way. They have to make your customer the hero.
Unfortunately, many B2B case studies do the exact opposite. Much to the dismay of prospects, they repetitively promote the company, product, or service.
Your case studies don’t have to do this. Your customers don’t need to know much about your product or service to choose you.
They want to see their company and situation in your case study. The more you focus your story on details relevant to their circumstances, the more you convince.
That approach makes your case studies easily avoid self-promotion.
6. Well-Told Case Study Stories Overpower Mere Factual Descriptions
With an enthralling story, you can omit even basic details about customers. Yes, they work that well.
Leading B2B marketing agency Velocity Partners stands firmly behind this.
They say an unforgettable story:
- Presents problems as they are, without minimizing
- Has multiple sub-narratives
- Uses direct, plain language from the customer
- Presents only the most essential information (not every detail)
- Doesn’t come off like an investment bank’s corporate website
Will Powerfully Written Case Studies Make It Into Your B2B Marketing Strategy?
You may not have case studies in your content strategy right now. Or, you might have them, but not the convincing kind you need.
With this data and these examples in hand, will you make case studies a priority?
...Or will you watch as your competitors snatch up the leads you should have for yourself?
B2B direct response copywriter Dan Stelter is the “secret weapon” who who crafts engaging content and case studies that increase your marketing efficiency. Competitors bang their heads on the wall in frustration while you get up to 200% more leads. Learn more about Dan’s B2B lead generation services at B2BLeadGenGuy.com