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As a B2B business are you using case studies to attract your dream customers? Would you like them to stand out from the competition and build credibility, trust, and influence with your buyers?

What about making it easier for your successful customers to jump right in and be the highlight of your story?

It may be time for a makeover or at least a few upgrades.

Every buyer you encounter will be up against change. So, let’s start there.

Change Is Hard to Swallow

Change can be hard to swallow. Many times, it requires jumping into the unknown. It can take effort, time, patience, focus, and open you up to risks. Not only that, if you can’t address the obstacles, identify gaps, and see the possibility of success at the end, you set yourself up to fail.

It’s especially important for people who are changing up the current process for others at their company by making decisions to buy something new, complex, and/or expensive. Their decisions can impact the entire company, as well as their customers, clients, and partners.

Everyone wants to avoid making a bad decision.

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Why Are Bad Decisions Still Made?

With all the numbers and data out there, did you ever wonder why bad decisions are still made?

Annette Simmons, the author of The Story Factor, explains that bad decisions are rarely made because people don’t have all the facts. Bad decisions are made because people ignore them, or don’t understand their importance. Basic human emotions like anxiety, greed, or fear take over.

More facts will not help them put things into perspective. The critical component missing is the story.  A story helps people figure out what all the facts mean and gives them something they can relate to and understand. They should be able to see themselves in that story, feel the pain, and visualize the possibilities.

Let’s face it, after you gather the facts on something you want, most people jump on the Internet to search for reviews from other buyers on sites like Amazon, G2 Crowd, and Trip Advisor. You’re looking for people who have had experiences similar to yours. You want to make the best choice for your money and time and avoid problems.

Are others loving what they purchased, having challenges and regrets, or finding something better? Are there potential obstacles we may run into and can we avoid them? What are the possible outcomes?

It makes sense that studies show B2B buyers use case studies more than any other resource to help them make decisions to purchase something new, complex, and/or expensive. It’s their chance to avoid a bad decision.

What Are B2B Buyers Really Looking For?

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What exactly are B2B buyers looking for in a case study when making the decision to purchase something? How do they prefer to search for them? What can you do to make your case studies capture the attention and imagination of your B2B buyers?

To answer these and more, I shared a list of questions with 240 B2B Technology Marketing and Sales professionals right here on LinkedIn. After reviewing the responses, I selected 10 people with the most relevant insights and first-hand experiences.

Some of the highlights include:

“There are three critical elements missing in most case studies. One of them is the person at the heart of the story, your successful customer."

Cassandra Jowett ~ Director of Content Marketing, LookBookHQ

“Don’t bury the pain. The key to a successful case study is to interview the owner of the process with the challenge, the person who felt the pain."

Debbie Terwilliger ~ Lead Product Marketing Manager, AT&T

“End customer strategic challenges that are not addressed well leave many tech firms poorly differentiated."

Troy Fulton ~ Director of Marketing, MicroNergy, LLC

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“The Challenge, Solution, Results approach is classic… formulaic. It can be a conversation starter for sales. But in my view, the narrative sequence is dated. CSR is limited and lacks nuance and color."

Chas Kielt ~ Principal Product Marketing Manager, Citrix Cloud

“The challenges, solutions, and results format for case studies works best where the reader wants to get directly to the point and may be further along in the buying cycle. They have a strong interest and need reinforcement. It’s also great for senior management when you can talk bottom line numbers, saving money, and increasing productivity.”

Denise Boyd ~ Global Marketing Communications Manager, Perkin Elmer

“To make it easy for the customer to say yes, my team did all of the legwork with minimal support from the client.”

Luis Quiroga ~ VP, Product Strategy & Marketing, Agero, Inc.

“In my past experience, case studies were extremely useful for the sales team, when the focus was on benefits to the customers. Works every time.”

Justyna Bednarski ~ Digital Marketing Manager, Carlisle Interconnect Technologies

“We follow the challenge, solution, results format mostly out of necessity. Nearly all of our clients are under NDA and we are extremely limited in what we, as marketers, can say.”

Stephanie Van Ness ~ Marketing Communications Manager and Chief Storyteller, ViewPoint Interactive Solutions

“We typically tie in additional services from us (extra templates, training, and support) in exchange for a case study."

Mikolka Morrill ~ Account Executive, Northeast Region, Prezi

“We try to make sure thank you gifts are unique to the customer who shared their story with us.”

Lauren Triance-Haldane ~ Senior Manager, Customer Marketing Advocacy at LookBookHQ

It's Time for a Case Study Makeover

These LinkedIn experts from various industries, along with others not listed here, shared their insights and tips. They also read case studies to make their own buying decisions. And there was an overwhelming response to needing a better strategy for case studies to make a bigger impact.

While I gathered these real-world insights from the experts, I also examined 50 case studies. From here, I selected 7 of the most powerful ingredients to help you plan, craft, and publish case studies. 

These tips will help you:

  1. 1
    Give buyers what they’re looking for.
  2. 2
    Help you nurture relationships with your successful customers.
  3. 3
    Beat your company goals.

It is the right time for a Case Study Makeover. Here’s a closeup of the 7 powerful ingredients.

7 Steps to a Case Study Makeover

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Compare these real-world tips with your own case study strategy. Decide where your gaps are, take action to give buyers what they expect, and make them more useful for both your customer advocates and for your company.

How are you using case studies and customer success stories for your business and have they been valuable to both your prospects and successful customers?

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