Why 73% of B2B Companies Are Marketing with Case Studies — And Why You Should Get in the Game Now
Picture this … a company CEO wide awake in the middle of the night … tossing and turning … worrying about a threat facing her company …
Want to know what keeps her up?
The idea that her customers may not be able to easily tell her products apart from those of her competitors.
That her products will disappear in the sea of today’s copycats.
That commoditization will cause company sales to drop.
This is a constant problem in the world of B2B.
We’re living in an economy filled with “me-too” products and services. And as competition gets fiercer, it’s getting harder for businesses to compete on product features and benefits alone.
They need something else to stay ahead. Something their competitors can’t copy.
And that’s why so many have resorted to storytelling.
Yes, businesses everywhere are using stories to set themselves apart — stories of how their customers have used the company’s products or services to solve problems.
These stories are called case studies or success stories. They describe how a company or organization solved a challenge with a product or service, and what the results of solving that challenge were.
Most case studies run about 800-1,000 words. So they’re fairly short. And unlike white papers — which are longer documents that define a business or technical problem and present a new or better solution to solve that problem — a case study is basically a “before-and-after” story:
Acme Corp. had a problem with X. They looked for a solution until they found Product Y. They bought and implemented that product. And since then, they’ve enjoyed benefits A, B, and C.
B2B marketers are cranking out case studies at a fast clip. According to a 2018 comprehensive survey by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 73% of B2B marketers are writing and publishing case studies today. These same marketers list case studies as their second most effective content marketing vehicle (just behind white papers).
It’s the ultimate content marketing weapon.
That’s why literally DOZENS of industries use case studies on a regular basis to market and sell their products and services. Some of these industries and sectors are:
- Medical equipment/devices
- Training services
- IT services/consulting
- Business consulting
- Other professional service firms
- Human resources/benefits management
- Regulatory compliance products/services
- Industrial equipment and components
- Financial services
- Legal services
- Construction equipment and supplies
The list goes on and on. You can even pursue ad agencies and marketing firms that produce materials for these and other industries (most of them hire outside writers).
This demand — across so many industries — explains why companies are willing to pay writers $1,250-$2,000 to write a case study for them.
When you’re starting out, if you have a good process in place, you can complete a case study for a client in about 10 hours. Which means you’re essentially earning a cool $125-$200 per hour. That’s close to what many attorneys bill on an hourly basis! Plus, as you become more proficient, the time you need to do each one will go down, making your per-hour fee even higher.
We Remember Stories
Besides being an effective tool for differentiating from the competition, case studies excel at getting the attention of prospective customers.
Buyers of B2B products and services are drowning in information. They're being bombarded with marketing messages at an unprecedented rate. So it's getting harder and harder to capture their attention.
Good stories, however, can cut through that noise. That's because personal stories feel “real.” We connect to a story much more than we do to abstract concepts, facts, statistics, or logical arguments.
Stories engage us on an emotional level, creating a deeper, intimate bond. Our brains are literally hardwired to remember stories. And because of that, we remember them — and we tend to remember everything around them.
In other words, we may not remember a statistic by itself. But when used in the context of a compelling story, we'll remember both the story AND the statistic.
Think back to the last business seminar you attended. What do you remember most about the presentations?
Whatever it was, I'm willing to bet it involved a story. It could have been a statistic or factual statement. But it was probably packaged in a story.
I still remember a story I heard a presenter deliver in a business seminar I attended more than 20 years ago. The presenter wasn't famous. He wasn't flashy or polished. But the story he told moved me deeply and has stayed with me all those years.
So much so that I even remember the presenter's name, what he looked like, and where he was from. In other words, trivial facts I wouldn't have remembered had he not told that powerful story.
We Want to Know What Others Think
Another important reason why case studies have become such important marketing tools is that they’re excellent credibility builders. That’s why B2B buyers turn to these pieces when making a purchasing decision.
When evaluating products and services, we tend to place tremendous importance on the experience others have had with that product or service. And that’s true whether someone is evaluating a $1 million piece of equipment for their employer … or trying to decide which flat-screen TV to buy for their living room.
More than specifications and technical details, we want to know what others think. Because if their experience with the product has been lousy, the technical details don’t really matter!
That’s why product reviews have become such an important part of retail websites. If you’ve ever shopped online, I’m willing to bet you’ve read product reviews before making a purchase — even though you’ve never met the people writing the reviews!
Which goes to show that what others think is incredibly important, even if we’ve never met them.
The Ideal Writing Project
One of the things that make case studies fun to write is that they’re short and formulaic. They follow a very simple structure. Once you understand and master that case study structure, writing the story is easy.
Besides a writing formula, you also need a simple, step-by-step process for tackling these assignments. Yes, these are simple projects. But they have several moving parts. So knowing how to manage them well will ensure you can turn them around quickly and boost your earnings.
There has never been a better time to add case studies to your services portfolio. These marketing pieces continue to grow in importance. Many clients can’t get enough of them, and they often lead to other related projects, making them a great vehicle for getting in the door with new clients.
What questions do you have about getting started writing case studies? Let us know below so we can help.
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I enjoy writing stories, probably have a gift for it, and am intrigued with the challenge of writing stories which help business people impress their clients with how / why their products will help them reach their goals . . .
BUT I do not have a bachelor's degree, so have been reluctant to jump in to the B2B market.
How can I get started?
Colorado Pup –
Hello, I am new to this all and I'm retired on disability and that doesn't pay, believe me, I would like to try something like case studies or success stories that I've read a little bit about maybe this is the wrong way to do this but I could sure use a little guidance in this area. I am taking the AWAI’s Copywriting Crash Course right now with Rebecca Matter and Katie Yeakle hoping it will help me along, well thank you in advance for anyone who might throw me a line.
Case studies are great from my understanding of these articles but what are the practical ways of landing these jobs if one takes the program? I have a background of storytelling already and would love it but only if i see a hold me by the hand approach to landing these case study gigs.
Guest (Andrew) –