Love it or hate it, marketing is essential to every organization. There were once hold-outs, like the white-shoe law firm with partners who viewed any sort of marketing as beneath their august stations. Now, no one is immune.
This raises an obvious question in the mind of anyone planning a marketing strategy: Given all the tools available and a budget that’s not unlimited, what’s a cost-effective choice for this business? What works, and doesn’t break the bank in the process?
Enter the case study. Case studies work, and they don’t cost the earth.
They work because they tap into a very human preference, the love of a good story.
Amazon and Google, two companies with above-average marketing smarts, have taken the case study to heart. Amazon uses case studies to market Amazon Web Services. Beginning in 2010, Google made case studies part of the Official Google Blog, using cases of small businesses taking successful advantage of a range of Google products and services.
Case studies are not just for big companies, however. They don’t require big budgets, yet they are appropriate for linking and distribution through a variety of channels: your website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and SlideShare and many others.
Take, for example, the case of a hypothetical company manufacturing hurricane shutters. They have impressive statistics to back up the value of their product: wind resistance, impact protection, special fasteners that withstand the elements like no others. Those are all facts worth knowing, and one approach would be to throw them at prospective buyers in a full-page ad complete with a picture of the product in all its glory.
As an alternative, our manufacturer might consider a case study. There’s a family-owned motel perched above a beach in the Florida Keys. Storms were getting fiercer and more frequent, and the property was closed for weeks at a time when bad weather hit. Their old protections against the weather no longer did the job. They came to you, the manufacturer, for a solution, and you worked with them to get them what they needed. Perhaps they needed a custom solution.
In the end, your product did the trick, and it worked because of all the technical superiority you offer, but, this time, that technical superiority is put on display in a specific context. All the technical information is there, but it’s no longer abstract. These are real people with a real problem. Your company had a real solution.
We can all relate.