Are your case studies working well as evidence you do a great job?

As you talk to your latest prospective new client, you’ve identified their needs. You are talking to them about your solution to those needs. You’ve explained what it is you do and how that will help make their lives considerably easier or better. There is just one thought in their heads at this point:

PROVE IT!

Depending upon how they found you, they will have known you for either some time, or they’ve just found you. Did you ask them by the way? Either way, as a new prospect, they have never experienced working with you. If they were referred to you, that referral carries some weight (and a little of the referrer’s reputation). But if they found you on LinkedIn or through some other online search, all they know about you is what they have seen online. All they have seen is your words on how great you are at helping your clients. Since then, all they’ve heard is your words on how great a solution you can provide to their needs. What they want, and need, is proof that you will deliver on your promises once they sign on the dotted line.  What they want is evidence.

My last blog looked at testimonials as a key piece of evidence. Let’s now look at another key piece of evidence: case studies.

Get your case studies working well

Case studies are a summaries of specific pieces of work with your clients that demonstrate how you’ve helped them. Are your case studies working well? To do this, they must have five key parts Let’s look at them now:

Who is the client?

Naming and describing the client puts the case study into context for the reader. It allows them to draw comparisons to themselves so that they recognise that you understand their industry. If you understand the industry, you will understand the pressures they face. A hyperlink to your client will provide just a little SEO support for that company. It will also give the reader the option to click through and understand more if they wish to.

What issue did they face?

By describing the problem you helped them with, you further strengthen the reader’s image of you. If you’ve picked your case studies well, they will be reading a case study about an issue very similar to the one they are talking to you about. You’re showing them that you have experience of dealing with that issue.

What did you do?

This section is, perhaps, the least important section of your case study. A description of what you did for that client will help the reader to picture the service and to understand more. But if they are reading this after your first sales meeting, you will have already told them what you will do. Even if they are reading this before deciding to call you, they have probably already read your What We Do website page.
I believe that most of your target audience doesn’t care about what you do, they care about how you can help them. This brings me nicely onto…

The Results

Your description of the great results you delivered for this client is the piece your prospects want to read. They want to believe that working with you will deliver a great return on investment. That they will get a solution to their problem that will make them look good to their boss (that may be a higher-up line manager, their shareholders or fellow directors).
To get your case studies working well, this is the most important part, so why is it that this part is the one most often missing from case studies?

The Client’s Words

A testimonial from a named person from within that client adds credibility and weight to the case study. The client is agreeing that you delivered a great piece of work, to the extent that they are happy to add their name to it. It’s unlikely that you will add a name if you have made up the case study (Googlewhacking is a lot of fun – try it) and they can always check up on you if there is a name.

When Should You Write a New Case Study?

I mentioned above that the results section is the one most often missing from a case study. I believe this is because they are written too soon. Too many companies look to write a case study the minute a project is complete. The problem is that it often takes some time for the results of your work to appear.

Why Do This?

Keeping an up to date set of case studies on your website is, in my opinion, vital for the following reasons:

  1. Regular updates are great for SEO purposes. Not only because you are updating and adding content regularly, but it is also highly likely to be keyword rich.
  2. Regular visitors to your website will see that you are continuing to deliver great work for your clients. By the way, make sure you add new case studies to the top of the page; viewers won’t scroll to the bottom to check if there is fresh content.
  3. You can easily point prospects to the content and, with the right web analytics, see when they read what you point them at. If a prospect is reading your case studies, they are likely to be about to make their decision on whether to use you.
  4. They will warm up those who haven’t yet made contact. If they like what they read (and recognise their peers and similar issues), they are far more likely to get in touch.

I hope this helps to get your case studies working well.

What are you doing with your testimonials?

benefit of testimonialsMany marketing people will tell you of the benefits of testimonials and how they can help you to grow your business. I’m agree completely that testimonials are a key part of the evidence set you use to help your target audience to buy from here, but are you using them well?  Here’s 12 tips to help you get the best results from your testimonials.

1. Gathering your testimonials

Making best use of your testimonials starts with having some. So how do you get them?

  • Ask for them. Your clients may not know you want them, so ask for them. If you ask when you’ve just done a great piece of work, you’ll almost certainly get what you want.
  • Check your emails. You, almost certainly, have a number of emails from clients where they are saying very nice things about how you’ve helped them. They are testimonials and can be used. You might like to just check they are happy for you to use their words, but you don’t have to.  They wouldn’t have sent the email if they didn’t mean what they said.
  • Check LinkedIn. Known as recommendations on LinkedIn, these are all valid and can be used on your website and other marketing.
  • Customer surveys. If you regularly seek feedback through surveys, add a question to get comments about your service.

2. Using them on your website

There are two places to use testimonials on your website:

  • a testimonials page. Gathering all the positive comments about your service in one place shows your audience that lots of people love you. Having a good set in one place can be very powerful.
  • On relevant pages. Put some of your testimonials on the service/product pages they refer to, so people can read comments about your service quickly and easily, at the point they are reading about that product/service.

3. Where else?

The testimonials on your website are great, when people get to your website.  To make best use of your testimonials, let’s think about where else you can use them:

  • LinkedIn updates. When someone says something nice about you, tell others what they said.  People often say to me that they haven’t got much to say on LinkedIn.  This is definitely something to say.
  • All your other social media. You want lots of people within your target audience to see that their peers think you do excellent work. Put your testimonials where they will be seen and add a link back to a whole page of them!
  • Press releases. Where appropriate, add a customer testimonial onto your press release. It adds credibility as it’s a real-life other person (not you) saying you did a great job for them.
  • Business cards. If you haven’t got anything to put on the back of your business cards, add a testimonial or two. Many printers can now mix and match the design of your cards so that not every card has the same thing on the back. You will pay a little more, but it’s worth it.
  • Your imagination is your limit. Put your mind to it and I bet you can think of loads of other places: exhibition stands, banners, flyers, brochures – the list goes on.

4. Giving a little back

Your clients gave you their testimonials because you helped them out. You delivered a great product/service and superb value. They will be very happy, but let’s make sure that you help them out a little more.

  • Whenever you put a testimonial out there digitally, put a hyperlink back to their website or social media. You know that inbound links still add a little to the search engine algorithms, so it will improve their SEO performance just a little bit. It’s cost you nothing except the time it takes to add a hyperlink.

So that’s a few tips on how to ensure you are making the best use of your testimonials. I hope this helps.