Key takeaways in this post:

  • Case studies are essential for establishing trust and credibility with B2B prospects. They provide real-world examples of success for buyers who tend to spend significant time researching independently.
  • To effectively leverage case studies, B2B marketers should focus on creating a backlog of compelling ideas. This can be achieved by soliciting input from sales teams, conducting routine project demos, and highlighting flagship clients.
  • A well-structured case study follows a simple format: problem, solution, results, and customer quote.

Author: Heather Stanley
Last updated: 10/17/23

When it comes to B2B marketing, it’s critical to establish proof with prospects. And nothing builds trust with prospective clients quite like case studies.

The sales funnel for B2B is different than B2C. There are more decision makers, there’s a longer sales cycle and buyers have more pressure to make the right decision. According to Gartner, when B2B buyers consider a purchase, they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential solution providers. Instead, much of their time is spent researching independently. Having case studies available on your website can help your company stay in the running for their business. Keep reading to learn more about:

  • How to use case studies to move B2B buyers through the sales funnel 
  • How to create a backlog of great case study ideas 
  • Interviewing clients and internal SMEs  
  • Key elements to include in a case study  
  • Ideas to get the most out of distribution 

According to Content Marketing Institute’s 13th Annual B2B Content Marketing Survey results, 67% of B2B marketers created and used case studies in the last 12 months. And 36% reported case studies were the content assets that generated the best results in the last year. 

However, that same report cites that B2B marketers struggle with creating content for the buyer’s journey. Case studies shine when it comes to moving prospects from the awareness stage to the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.

Examples of content types for each stage of the B2B buyer’s journey.

Case studies are core to the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey. In this phase, your buyers already know they have a problem and are starting to evaluate potential solutions. Now, they’re open to considering your product or service. Case studies provide data and testimonials from actual clients, which can be seen as more credible than most marketing collateral. 

Now that you know case studies are essential to move prospects through the sales funnel, it’s time to build your backlog. There are three main ways to solicit case study ideas from your team, and ideally, you should be putting all three into play:

  1. Ask sales: No one knows where the gaps in your proof are quite like your sales team. Meet with them regularly and ask what case studies they wish they had. Some questions to ask include:
    • What products or services do we want to offer to more clients?  
    • What case studies do you regularly use that are outdated?  
    • Are you prospecting into segments that are currently not represented in case studies? 
  2. Hold routine project demos: As projects wrap up, make sure your internal teams are demonstrating the results to the rest of the team in a timely manner. At WG Content, we hold a quarterly project showcase where teams share project wins with the rest of the company. These showcases are a great feeder system for case study ideas.
  3. Identify flagship clients: Make a list of all your flagship clients (the ones whose logo you love to tout!) and make sure you have a case study for each. If you don’t, find the story and get it in your backlog.

Once you have a story in mind, it’s time to put your interviewer hat on and get to work.

How to interview your internal SMEs  

Your internal SMEs have a wealth of knowledge about the project and help you focus on where the unique talking points are for the story. Start by having the internal SMEs provide an overview of both the client partnership and the specific project in question, then ask:

  • What was the client’s challenge? 
  • How was the client solving it before we stepped in?  
  • How did we solve it, specifically?  
  • What unique insights, skills or products did we bring to the table to help the client?
  • Do we have any examples of the final deliverables?
  • What are the results?
  • What do you think they’d say about working with us and the results?

How to interview your clients

Once you have the background on the story, you can interview the client. It’s always best to go into a client interview with knowledge of the story already so you know where to focus questions. 

Start by reaching out to the client to schedule a time. Let them know your team shared the great success about the project and that you’re interested in writing a case study. If the client agrees, schedule an interview. Always acknowledge your clients are busy, so be sure to try to keep the meeting to 30 minutes or less. It’s also helpful to send the questions ahead of time so they can prepare. Let them know you’ve already met with the internal team, but you want to hear the story from their perspective. Here are some sample questions to use in your client interview: 

  • Please share an overview of the project. 
  • Why was this project important to your organization? (Did it tie into any broader organizational goals?)  
  • What was it like working with our company on this project?  
  • Was there a particular part of the project where our team provided exceptional value or brought unique insight?  
  • What have the results been so far?  
  • Anything else you’d like to add?

Before you end the call, it’s also important to inform the client about the next steps in the process. Let them know when they can expect to see a draft and how you plan to use this case study.  

The most common structure for case studies is quite simple and breaks down into four key areas: 

1. Problem

What was the problem the client discovered? What roadblocks did they encounter when trying to solve it on their own or with another solution provider? It helps to frame this as an opportunity – often, clients don’t want to admit they had a problem, so reframing can increase the chances of it getting approved.

2. Solution

What did your company do to solve the problem? What unique services or products did you bring to the table? What was the process you and the client went through together?

3. Results

Share results. Ideally, you’d want to share ROI. But if you can’t establish ROI, don’t let that discourage you. Other examples of results include improved workflows, time saved, money saved, increased performance metrics (traffic, pageviews) and increased conversions or volume.

4. Customer quote

Always include a client quote about the project.

Remember to follow standard best practices as you write. Use subheads to break up sections and use bullets to increase scannability. Once you have a draft, send it for internal review by the SMEs you interviewed and then for formal editing. Then, it’s ready to send to the client for review and approval. 

Make sure all that work pays off with a thoughtful distribution strategy for your case studies. At a minimum, you should be adding them to your website. Here are just a few of the other ways to leverage case studies.

  • Share on social media. Pro tip: to get more legs out of the story, consider breaking it into derivatives (new content that’s created from existing content, often in different forms such as graphics of the testimonial or the results). 
  • Share in your company newsletter.
  • Add to sales enablement – create slides for pitch decks, add the quotes to product or service sales sheets, etc.
  • Add to email nurture campaigns.
  • Pitch the story to industry publications or submit to award competitions.

Case studies allow your clients to market for you and share what makes your products and solutions unique. And if your company markets to the healthcare industry, with its complex buyer groups, case studies can make all the difference in getting short-listed as a potential solution provider. But finding the time to interview, write and edit all those stories can take its toll on a small internal B2B marketing team.  

WG Content has you covered. We have deep experience developing compelling case studies for B2B teams selling into the healthcare industry. Contact us and let’s get started today.

Case studies are invaluable tools for establishing credibility and trust with prospective clients. They provide real-world examples of successful solutions, helping companies navigate the complex B2B sales funnel and stand out in a competitive market.

A compelling case study should address four main areas: the problem faced by the client, the solution provided by your company, the results achieved, and a testimonial from the client. Additionally, structuring the case study with subheads and bullets enhances readability and scannability.

Companies can leverage various distribution channels to ensure their case studies reach their target audience. These include adding them to the company website, sharing on social media platforms, including in newsletters and email campaigns, incorporating into sales enablement materials, and pitching to industry publications or award competitions.

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