Case Studies and White Papers are powerful tools in the content marketing toolbox and a proven lead generation tactic, but we often find many people are either reluctant to use them or think they are a waste of time. Businesses often believe they would expose too many ‘trade secrets’ if they wrote white papers or case studies – that customers or competitors would ‘steal’ this know-how for they’re own benefit. Hopefully this blog will dispel these concerns.
To my mind a White Paper explores in detail a topic relevant to a segment of your target market, in which you have significant expertise. A Case Study demonstrates how your product or service was used by a customer to solve a particular problem or need they faced.
In other words, a White Paper shows you can “Talk the Talk”, but a Case Study is proof that you can also “Walk the Walk”!
For your white paper to be effective in building trust and therefore leads, it needs to engage and motivate in order to generate website traffic and sales interest.
Like all web-based content the reader’s attention needs to be grabbed immediately. So the title needs to be eye-catching as well as conveying the core of the white paper’s subject matter.
The content needs to be logically structured around the topic, and demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the issues that customers face, together with potential solutions – and maybe not just yours. The content needs to be helpful to the customer, because what you want is to stimulate further interest in your solution – obviously the best one!
Then use the white paper in your outbound marketing activities. Use it in email marketing, to support the sales message and in your social media strategy. Link to it from your blog, put links to it from relevant parts of the website.
If you have a sales force, print copies for them to use in their sales pitch.
The outcome from marketing with white papers is to generate interest from your prospects so that they will want to hear more about what you do.
In a well crafted case study, the prime objective is to tell a story, preferably a successful one, about how a customer used a product (or service) you offer to improve their life. Even better if the case study explores a particular problem encountered by a group of potential customers.
Many businesses are reluctant to author case studies because they think they are boring. We often hear this. Interestingly, they are not boring to prospects. There is a ton of research that indicates that case studies are the third-most effective B2B content marketing tactic. What we find boring as experts in our own fields, because we live with it day in day out, is actually useful to prospects and invaluable in turning them into buying customers.
Begin each case study with a summary of the problem and a précis of the solution. We often use bulleted ‘take-away’ points to do this.
The case study needs to tell the story from the customer’s perspective – the problems they faced and the solutions that worked in improving their life. The content needs to be real, and if you can get it backed up with testimonials and/or quotes that’s even better.
Use Photos (even video) to make your case studies more visually appealing and engaging and where relevant, comparison or performance charts will provide supporting evidence to outcomes and benefits of your solution. And don’t forget to keep the wider audience perspective in mind, the market segment you are trying to build share in.
Then market your Case Studies in the same way as we described for marketing White Papers for maximum lead generation effect.
Author Matthew Simmons
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