The power of the case study: How to “close the deal” with a strong third-party endorsement

Kansas City has been my home for a long time, but I’ve been fortunate to have a career that’s taken me across the country, allowing me to plant roots from Florida to Arizona. I love traveling and trying new things, becoming a true “local” at every stop along the way.

But every move has its challenges, and one of the biggest was finding a new network of trusted resources. A primary care physician, insurance broker, banker, dentist, hair stylist—how do you know where to begin?

To this day, I find myself seeking recommendations from my personal and business networks for all those services, and then validating those recommendations with internet reviews and ratings.

It turns out I’m not alone: Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report surveyed more than 28,000 internet users in 56 countries and found 92% of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends above all other forms of advertising.

At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for a strong third-party endorsement, especially from someone you trust. The same can be said for your business.

Why case studies?

When it comes to sales and business development, there are dozens of tactics used to “close the deal.” People choose to buy your product or services because they have a need, and they trust you to help them achieve their goals.

Neil Patel – entrepreneur and co-founder of NP Digital (and praised by The Wall Street Journal and Forbes for his business strategy and advice) – found that including case studies in his emails increased his deal closing ratio by 70%. He goes on to write that having an established company endorsing your product will “significantly boost your company’s credibility”:

“A major reason for crafting any type of case report is to eliminate the doubts of your prospects. It helps them visualize their success by providing use details that support your product’s value. Once you gain the trust of a prospect, it becomes much easier to convert them.”

By having a trusted member of the business community vouch for your company and its services, you’re able to leverage that credibility for the advancement of your own brand.

What’s in a case study?

A case study is important to showcase the great work you’re capable of, but what’s more, it shows a prospect how you can positively impact their business. It allows your potential customer to self-identify their needs and visualize your product as the solution.

Impactful case studies are achieved through a three-pronged approach:

  1. Situation: This first part of your case study shares the climate of your client’s business before you stepped in to provide services.
  2. Solution: The second part of the case study conveys what actions you’ve taken or changes you’ve implemented to solve your client’s pain points.
  3. Results: The third – and perhaps most important part – of your case study shares how your solution has made a difference for your client, showcasing a direct quote that serves as a strong testimonial for your company and services.

Case studies prove your authenticity. They legitimize your company, and they prove you’re able to do what you say you’ll do. In addition to generating leads, putting your customer in the driver’s seat allows you to see how your company is effective to ensure you’re able to replicate your success in the future.

How can you use it?

Despite being cheaper than advertising, content marketing generates more than three times as many leads as the former, increasing visibility for your brand, developing relationships with your audience and building credibility and authority in the marketplace.

And while a case study is only one form of content marketing, its lifespan is higher than nearly any other piece of content. You can choose to have a page devoted to case studies on your website, send them out in emails, incorporate them into newsletters, share them on social media, pull quotes for client testimonials, or easily integrate them into your sales process. The possibilities are endless when it comes to a glowing endorsement and a strong content strategy.

Customers typically go through 70-90% of the buyer’s journey before ever contacting a vendor. Perhaps your next client has heard your name through the grapevine, and maybe their research has led them straight to your website. A successful case study is the proof your customer needs to finally pick up the phone.

Melea McRae is helping businesses chart a successful path at Kansas City’s first “un-agency.” Are you ready to Xcelerate your sales, marketing and revenue? Connect with Melea on LinkedIn or share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

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