Three Tips for Creating B2B Case Studies that Sell
How to master writing case studies for the energy, medical and software industries
Writing case studies for technical industries, such as energy, medical and software, is like playing golf: it doesn’t take long to learn the basics, but it can take years to master the game.
And just like how golf is more than just hitting the ball with your club, writing a case study that effectively sells a technology or service requires more than the actual writing. Only the third tip in this post concerns writing—the first two tips are the necessary preparation to create B2B case studies that sell.
Tip 1: Clearly define the challenge
If you’re new to writing case studies for a technical audience, it can seem a little overwhelming, especially if your company or client doesn’t have an established format (or has an ineffective one).
Although there are various formats and lengths for technical case studies, they generally include three components: challenge, solution and result. Each adds value to the story, but the challenge is what will make or break your case study.
It’s important to remember that the challenge must always be the customers’ challenge.
However, Internal stakeholders may interpret this section of the case study in a different way, focusing more on challenges related to research and development (R&D), bringing the technology to market or the implementation of the solution for the customer. These are not the challenges that current or prospective customers care about. What they do care about is what the technology or service can do for them and how it compares with other approaches.
The challenge section is the second most important part of your case study, next to the headline. The headline draws people to read, and then the challenge section keeps them reading because it clearly identifies the pain points of the customer or for the industry, setting the stage for your technology or service to “save the day” in the solution and result sections.
Tip 2: Align with the company’s objectives
B2B case studies aren’t merely proof points of a company’s technologies or services; they are integral pieces of a company’s narrative and strategy. It’s important to not lose sight of this as you begin gathering the information that you will use to demonstrate to the company’s existing customers or prospects the value of your technology or service or why they should consider buying it.
You must ask yourself: Do I have a clear understanding of the company’s vision? Whether you work for a start-up, large corporation or an agency, you need to know what these objectives are to ensure alignment with the company’s goals.
This is important because it sets the tone of the case study and the wording you’ll weave into it. For instance, if a company’s goal is to develop fit-for-purpose technologies for customers, be sure to highlight the ways in which the technology or service is in fact fit for purpose in the case study. You’ll also want to use consistent terminology across your other case studies and marketing collateral to call attention to this.
If the company doesn’t have communication or content pillars, the onus may fall on you to create these to define the company’s communication strategy. This will be addressed in a separate post on communication strategy.
Tip 3: Believe
If you don’t believe in the technology or service you’re writing about, you won’t create a compelling story for it.
When you write a case study, you are the company’s storyteller. Imagine telling a stranger about your favorite moment in sports history or the hobby you’ve been enjoying for years. Now, think about telling your audience the company’s story in the same way.
Your goal is to believe in the technology or service as much as you’d like for your target audience to believe in it. Sometimes this can be difficult, especially in a technical industry, where you may not have the depth of knowledge about the personas you’re writing the case study for or the technical knowledge to understand why or how this technology or service is valuable to your audience. But don’t think about these challenges as barriers to telling the story. They are opportunities for you to become a subject matter expert (SME) in your own right.
Do your own independent research. Leverage the expertise of the people within the company who either developed the technology or are promoting it. Ask your SMEs questions such as
- What are the market drivers?
- What were customers using before this was introduced?
- What are the differentiators that make this technology special?
- What does the customer care about the most?
- What will this technology do for the bottom line?
Over time, your input will be increasingly valuable to the company’s internal stakeholders as you begin to better understand the industries served, the market context and the pain points for the target audience. By doing this, you become more empathetic to your target audience and are better able to connect the dots between what they need and what the company’s technology or service can provide.
Define, align and believe for B2B case study success
No matter what industry you work for, if you can clearly define the customer’s challenge, align the story with the objectives of the company, and, most of all, believe in the technology or service, you’ll write case studies that tell stories to have a measurable impact. You’ll create B2B case studies that sell.
About the Author: Kirk Eggleston
Kirk Eggleston is a technical and corporate storyteller with more than six years of B2B marketing, public relations and corporate communications experience in the energy industry. He is currently a public relations specialist for Schlumberger, the world's leading oilfield services company. Kirk has been involved with ANA Business Marketing Houston since 2016 and currently serves on the board as co-chair of the communications committee.