When special guest Joel Klettke, founder of Case Study Buddy, joined Site Strategics CEO Erin Sparks and Digital Media Director Tom Brodbeck for Episode 307 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast to find out the why and how of case studies for B2B marketing, here’s what we learned:
Joel Klettke: His Background and Experience
Joel is a conversion-focused copywriter and strategist who has worked with clients like HubSpot, WP Engine, Safelite, and ion interactive. Joel is also the founder of Case Study Buddy, where he helps companies tell their story and prove their worth through the use of case studies. And case studies are the bane of content creation, but are extremely valuable when done right.
Joel found himself trying to do B2B sales for industrial labeling machines and failing miserably. He then worked for five years as an in-house SEO for a digital marketing agency. It was during his time at the agency when he realized his love for writing could be applied in the industry. After all, someone has to write the web copy, the ad copy and all the other kinds of content businesses need. As businesses were increasingly turning their attention to crafting content, Joel realized this was his opportunity. He started focusing on conversion copy, studying the work of people like Joanna Wiebe at Copy Hackers, and Peep Laja and others at ConversionXL.
What appealed to Joel was combining the creative task of writing with the analytical task of beating the competition. He eventually settled on case studies as the most important kind of copy to achieve business success, especially in the B2B environment.
Beat Competitors with Case Studies
When it comes to winning the conversion game, there’s no better kind of content for that than case studies. Markets today are incredibly fierce, whether it’s an agency, a SaaS company, or whatever. Your competitors can copy your features, your approach, your messaging – but the one thing they can’t copy are your company’s unique success stories. They are always and only yours. And the consumer is the one with increasing power in the buying relationship, it’s more important than ever to establish your company’s competitive advantage over the other players. Case studies are the best way to do that, because no other company can claim your success stories.
But Why Are Good Case Studies so Hard to do?
The problem, of course, is that case studies are hard to do, and there’s a reason for that. Anyone who thinks they’re easy to do has probably never tried to do one. A big part of why they’re hard to do is that there are a lot of different pieces to deal with. There’s the brand and your goals and your strategies. Then there’s the client who you have to get buy-in from to agree to be interviewed and managing all of that.
They’re also political – different people in the same organization might want different things or prioritize different elements. And then there’s the legal side of it; making sure you’ve got the release that you can actually put this out into the world. You absolutely have to dot all the I’s and cross all the t’s. You have to be flexible about the method of interviewing according to the client. Some want to do it on the phone, some want to do a video conference. There was one recent example where the company would only do it through chat! Just the mechanics of making it happen can get complicated. The takeaway here is that there’s a lot more to doing a good case study than most people realize.
Case Studies are Unique in Their Perspective
Case studies are not about your company or about your product, when you think about it. Your product is not the hero. Case studies are human success stories. Somebody in an organization had a challenge, and you came in and helped them solve that challenge. But the hero in the story is the customer you helped. They’re the hero for having chosen you. They’re the hero for having gone through that process. The goal of the case study is to tell a very human, relatable story so that a prospective customer can see the hero’s problems, challenges, and results they want, and then feel like they can be the hero too. Most attempts at case studies fall flat because the company does it in a very heavily-scripted way and often doesn’t involve the one who is supposed to be the hero in the story – the customer that was helped! It’s impossible to tell a good customer success story without involving the customer in the process of creating the story.
The other key aspect to case studies is storytelling. Just listing an impact statement of what the customer experienced in terms of results is not enough. A story has to have an arc – a beginning, middle and end. You have to capture the tension of where the customer was before your solution was implemented – the pain and uncertainty the customer was feeling. You have to tell the story in a visceral, emotional way about where they wound up and how they got there. Nothing kills a case study quicker than writing something that comes out more like a business document than a story. You have to figure out how to capture the customer’s experiences along the way, not just their opinions about the results. What did the results mean to them? If you want to beat your competitors with case studies, you have to craft them into compelling human stories.
Connect with Joel Klettke
Twitter: @JoelKlettke (https://twitter.com/JoelKlettke)
Case Study Buddy website: https://casestudybuddy.com
Case Study Buddy Twitter: @casestudybuddy (https://twitter.com/casestudybuddy)
Case Study Buddy Facebook: @casestudybuddy (https://www.facebook.com/casestudybuddy)
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