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Are You Sabotaging Your Case Studies?

The Top Six Ways Companies Shoot Themselves in the Foot
How to avoid the top 6 most common mistakes companies make when writing case studies. For more effective lead generation and to shorten the sales cycle, follow these case study best practices.

Let’s say you’ve just wrapped up a major project for a marquee-name customer. They’re happy because you helped them streamline their operation, saving them time and money. Now it’s time to turn the story into a powerful marketing message in the form of a case study.

Many companies write summaries of completed projects and call them case studies. But just the facts are not enough to build credibility and generate leads. So what’s missing? Six critical elements that transform a factual report into an engaging, convincing success story. 
           
Six common case study mistakes:
•    Leaving out the customer
•    Using jargon your prospect won’t understand
•    Boring or overblown writing
•    Heavy-handed sales pitch
•    Lack of measurable results
•    Not formatting the story for readers and skimmers

Now, let’s look at how to avoid these costly mistakes.

1 - Leaving out the customer
When you tell your success story without quoting the satisfied customer, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

By letting your customer help tell the story, suddenly you have all the elements that make it memorable and compelling – a cast of characters, drama and a happy ending.

The result is a powerful third-party endorsement that prospects find more useful than the typical marketing message.


2 - Using jargon your prospect won’t understand
Unless you’re writing for engineers or scientists, it’s safe to say your readers will get more out of your story if you avoid the techno-speak. Keep acronyms and specifications to a minimum, since too much detail can bog down the story.

Consider presenting technical data in an at-a-glance format, such as summarized in a sidebar.

3 - Boring or overblown writing
“We take a structured approach to our implementation engagements.”

Huh?

Statements like this one from an accounting firm are not only boring, but meaningless. The antidote is to write like you’re speaking to one person. When you keep it conversational, you’re connecting with the reader.

On the other hand, beware of superlatives, exaggerations and the overuse of exclamations! Even if you’re quoting an enthusiastic client, remember, a little dab’ll do ya.

4 - Heavy-handed sales pitch
Leave the hard-sell to your advertising and direct marketing campaigns. In a sense, a case study does its convincing on a Web 2.0 level by letting an actual user do the selling for you. Prospects want to hear about the experience of others. In fact, in a recent study of purchasing influencers, buyers ranked the opinions of “strangers with experience” a close second to those of family and friends.

Guess where advertising came in? Number nine out of ten. 

5 - Not formatting the story for readers and scanners
Your case study is likely to reach two types of readers – decision-makers who are looking for a quick overview and end users who need more detail. How can you satisfy both?

For the scanner, present your story with a sidebar summary, informational subheads and easy-to-read bullet points. The detail-hungry reader will go deeper, looking for proof  that you’ve solved problems much like their own.

6 - Lack of measurable results
A good case study shows precisely how your product or service saved time and money, increased productivity or helped the company serve their customers better. By quantifying the benefits you give prospects the ammunition they need to sell the concept to their higher-ups.

After all, what’s more convincing than facts and figures, especially in this challenging economic climate.

Clinch the deal with case studies
More and more, buyers are looking beyond traditional company-generated marketing messages in favor of recommendations by actual users. That’s why a well-crafted case study, one that avoids these six common mistakesArticle Submission, will help you speed up the sales cycle and clinch the deal.


Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, co-authors Lanny Udell and Bonnie Ayers Namkung are marketing communications writers focusing on case studies. Never at a loss for the right words, they also create powerful, persuasive copy for websites, brochures and direct marketing campaigns. See case study samples or get started marketing with case studies today. You can also reach Lanny and Bonnie at (415) 459-8966.



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