Time and time again clients tell us the same thing: the coverage they get from client case study success stories is the one of the most effective types of PR. Itâ€™s no surprise – as a B2B technology company, the best reference is a glowing named customer use case, complete with statistics and quotes.
However, many companies are missing opportunities to include the level of detail that takes a basic account of a project and makes it a highly valuable piece of selling materials. Read on for the first in our two part series on how to write B2B tech case studies that will drive leads and help dominate market share:
Check the timing â€“ is it case study time, or â€˜pitch win announcement time?â€™
The biggest challenge we see in writing any case study is lack of statistics and detail to report around the relationship or the experience of using the product. As a writer and PR expert, the first youâ€™ve got to do is to assess whether there is enough material to create an engaging case study that can demonstrate the experience has created benefit for the customer. Ask yourself â€“ if the client has not even installed the software or begun the relationship with the company you are writing for, what can you actually write about? It may be better to suggest the writing of a press release to cover the new client win, and then a case study six months on.
Demand stats and use them, especially in the title:
A good test of whether a project is ready to be written up as a case study is whether or not there are any stats you can lead with. If a marketing automation product has helped the company generate 30% more leads, then surely this should be included in the title. If these types of stats are hard to generate because the software is not lead-generation driven, look deeper. Perhaps itâ€™s because the software was implemented significantly faster than competitor software has been previously, or because itâ€™s allowing people to do their jobs faster or bring new products to the market faster.
Consider the comms department
When it comes to conducting the interview, you may find yourself speaking to a project manager or technical lead who is very willing to tell you what a mess the situation was when they arrived. From the companies using ancient, unsupported operating systems, to the companies that had zero antivirus or security measures in place, to the companies that simply had no idea of how many applications they were running â€“ there endless examples of companies that were quite simply in a right state before they selected a supplier to fix the problem.
However, as easy as it would be to write up â€œthe challengeâ€ based on the disaster that was on hand, the one question you really need to ask yourself is: Will this get by the comms department? The comms department will also be asking themselves several questions, such as â€œdo we really want our investors/customers/prospects to know our technology had gotten to such a state?â€
The obvious answer here is â€˜noâ€™, and so writers need to flip problems on their head, and present them as â€˜opportunities.â€™ So, weâ€™re not writing about the â€˜problem company XYZ had,â€™ weâ€™re writing about â€˜the opportunity company XYZ realised was that a simple upgrade of its technical infrastructure would allow it to scale up to get to market faster than competitors.â€™
Donâ€™t forget quotes:
This may seem obvious, but I canâ€™t count the number of times Iâ€™ve reviewed a case study without a quote, or one that doesnâ€™t feature a quote well until well in to the second page. You may think that case studies are about products, â€˜solutionsâ€™, â€˜servicesâ€™ or stats, but really, theyâ€™re about people. People really sell case studies. Prospects want to hear what the project manager thought, and what the CEO on both the supplier and client side thought â€“ and they want to hear this via realistic, unique sounding quotes that appear high up in a case study. Pull out quotes in large text boxes accompanied by smiling head shots of your quoted individuals are also great.
Get creative with your title and sub heads:
As weâ€™ve already said, in an ideal world your title will include stats. Iâ€™d also say that ideally, your sub-heads do not stick with the traditional and all too overused â€œHistoryâ€, â€œThe Challengeâ€ â€œThe Resultsâ€ and â€œThe Future.â€ Simply put, these are generic and wonâ€™t appeal to search engines. Why not use your sub-heads as an opportunity to compel readers to read on, and to appeal to Google?
Look out for the second part of our top tips to the perfect B2B tech case study, and follow us on Twitter @TheCommsCo for the latest in B2B tech.