Friday, January 16, 2009

The versatile case study

Case studies, or "customer success stories," are some of the most versatile marketing pieces there are. Once you've done the research and gotten the Opportunity, Challenge, Solution and Results down in compelling language, you've created a base from which all manner of good things can flow - in both space and time!

Space: You can repackage parts or all of the case study to add pizazz into your various marketing channels. Typically, the basic case study becomes part of your print repertoire, as a leave-behind at meetings and conferences, for example. A version of the printed version should go on your web site, but be augmented with additional testimonials, links to related case studies, and links to other related content (eg. you have a white paper on the technique you used to delight your case study client). Shorter versions can go into your newsletter, where you provide a way for readers to see the full version on the web or request the print version in the mail.

Time: You can also use pieces of the case study throughout your selling cycle. In your initial contacts (voice mail, email), you can use tidbits from the measurable results as teasers. A followup can use the shorter summaries you put in your newsletter. When the client is truly interested, send him or her the printed version with a note that an augmented version of it can be found on your web site (provide the link). Finally, when the client needs the final convincing, you'll have your set of related case studies ready to spring.

Finally, to get the most out of your case studies, spend some money to get them right:
1. Hire a professional designer - and make sure the design melds with the rest of your marketing "look and feel."
2. Hire a professional writer - it can mean the difference between what is simply an organized collection of facts, and a compelling story that pops off the page.

Putting time and money into compelling case studies is one of the most leverage-able marketing investments you can make!

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