By Casey Hibbard
Last week, someone asked me, “Why does a business need a case study? Why not just a testimonial?”
I get it. Capturing a customer testimonial instead of a longer case study could save hours and hundreds of dollars – not to mention being faster and simpler to get through customer approval.
But here’s the thing: It’s not enough for prospects, especially if you’re selling something expensive, complex or risky. Buyers need more information. Specifically, they need to picture the experience of working with you.
What buyers need from case studies
Customer case studies deliver three essential pieces for buyers:
1. Credibility – You work with other companies who are happy with you!
2. Education – Stories offer insight into what the experience looks like and how you as the vendor is different from the competition.
3. Validation – Not only do you show the path to success, but the precise results of working with you.
By covering these three bases, you eliminate the unknowns, helping clear the path to a decision.
What can’t a testimonial do?
In 1-3 sentences you can convey credibility and offer validation, but education…that’s tougher. You simply don’t have the space to educate buyers to the extent they need.
A case study can educate buyers on aspects such as…
- Why the customer chose you over other vendors
- How the rollout or delivery went
- What you as a vendor did specifically to deliver a smooth experience or specific results
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Imagine you want to hire a business coach to help you meet your goals. You look at the websites for three coaches. They all provide the type of guidance you need. They all have deep experience working with businesses like yours. They all have glowing testimonials that show they deliver results. Finally, they all come in at the same price.
How do you decide?
Personally, I want to know what it’s like to work with this individual – the nuances. Those might be things such personality or approach. Maybe one coach has a unique 3-phase process that she takes you through. Or a mastermind support group of other business owners that makes a difference. Or delivers half a dozen actionable ideas in each session.
Now imagine that one of the coaches has detailed customer case studies or success stories that cover these bases. I feel better knowing more. By eliminating the unknowns about working with this person, I have more peace of mind – eliminating the risk of a bad decision and wasted money.
As buyers weigh whether to choose you, help them by painting a real picture of the experience you deliver. If you’re not, your competition may be.