You need to take a whole new approach to case studies

I’m still amazed at how few case studies and testimonials there are on most manufacturers’ websites. Having written hundreds of the things over the years, I know they’re not easy to do, and I’m also well aware that getting permission from the customer can be enough of a chore that the exercise never gets started. So I understand if it’s something you quietly keep a little way down your to-do list.

But online marketing today is all about content, and case studies make great content. A product page which doesn’t have a “see how this product is being used” link is asking a prospect to make a leap of faith. You need a case study, or several, for every product you sell. Yet for most marketing managers, generating case studies gets filed alongside link-building as a “quietly ignore it and it might go away” exercise.

Why? Well, the difficulty with case studies is often caused by manufacturers only choosing their most glamorous customers to write up. Oh great, your product is on the moon, or saving lives in Africa, or winning world championships. That’s all very nice, but they’re the hardest case studies to get organised. And do your prospects really relate to that? What’s more, are they searching for it?

One client recently asked me if we could use AdWords to target the agricultural sector, where they’d had a few good sales recently and saw the prospect of more. Sure, we could take a look at that, but where were the agricultural sector case studies on their website? When we sent people from the agricultural sector to the site, what would they be able to relate to? Not the use of the product by a Formula One team, which was the main case study I could see.

When case studies were written primarily to get you featured in a trade magazine, it was smart to focus on how your products had been used in the new James Bond movie. Now you need case studies to populate your website, something which is a thousand times more important than any magazine, and that means covering more mundane applications, but ones which everyday prospects can relate to. More on how to do this tomorrow.

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