Panalitix’s GrowthEquation often reveals that accountants need more business leads ESPECIALLY quality, ADVISORY leads. There are many reasons why leads are hard to come by. Perhaps prospects don’t think of you as a business advisor? Maybe your business advisory solutions are not what your prospects want? Maybe you are not reaching people through your marketing efforts or you are reaching the ‘wrong’ people?
Figuring this out is really important.
Something that may help with communicating your value is an often under-utilized tool: the Case Study. Let’s look at how Case Studies can be utilized in marketing to increase quality leads.
1. Why a Case Study?
Why not a list of services? Or team profiles? Or a client list? A case study is an opportunity to tell a story. You can show the ‘context’ for what you do and how it impacts ‘real’ people. That makes your presentation of information more personal and memorable – great ingredients for marketing!
2. Think what action you’d like the reader to take
It’s quite likely that a reader of your case study already knows your business and might even be considering doing business with you. They are looking for that extra understanding of how you operate and impact your clients. That means they have ALREADY considered your products, location, fee structures, company background etc. They want to know that others have been down a similar path with you and succeeded. They are looking for reassurance. While you don’t object to many people reading your case study, this is less about ‘mass marketing’ and more about providing assurance to qualified prospects.
3. Describe the customer (the protagonist)
Your customer is the hero and your reader needs to get to know them. The description doesn’t need to be long but should give a strong sense of the profile and WHY they may be encountering this problem, challenge or opportunity. The best reaction from your reader is, “Oh… I know someone like that…” or better still, “That sounds like us!”
4. Highlight a REAL Problem, Challenge or Opportunity
A story will only be meaningful if there is a clear description of a situation which needs to be addressed AND that situation really matters to someone. It’s a mistake to start thinking about what YOU are good at and then build your story around that. Focus on big, macro problems not small tactical challenges.
5. Find the balance between specific and relatable
This is a judgment call. Your client may have had success because of your brilliant solution to a highly complex and unique problem. That’s great and demonstrates your effectiveness. But you could pigeon-hole yourself as the business that ONLY solves highly complex and unique problems when most businesses face ‘mainstream’ problems.
6. Structure is important
A typical structure will:
– Introduce the ‘hero’. Remember – that’s the customer!
– Then the tension they face or the problem they need to solve paying attention to the importance of that problem.
– Then the solution they implemented.
– Finally, describe the transformation they experienced which will, no doubt, involve solving the problem. Why does it matter? Everything should be seen through the lens of the customer.
7. Resist the temptation to ‘announce’ or ‘declare’
There are other forums in which you can launch new products, advertise, develop whitepapers or release information publically. But this is not about you… it’s about the journey of a customer.
8. Use a narrative style
Since we are telling the story of your customer, we should use a form that expresses this best. Yes, there can be bullet points, subheadings and a formal tone but not what you’d expect on a brochure where we try to explain the features of a product in the shortest possible space.
9. Quotes from the customer help
Since we want to use the ‘voice of the customer’, having their actual words woven into the case study makes a lot of sense.
10. Refer to Data (or evidence)
Evidence helps to make your case study more real and more believable.
Consider the difference between:
– “Company X wanted to grow revenue significantly in the coming years” And
– “The board of Company X mandated that there should be revenue growth of 7% each year for the next 3 years and that 50% of that growth would come from Product Y in the Z region.”
11. See Case Studies as part of your ‘marketing mix’
The best outcome is that a reader wants to engage further. So, what can they access next? Another case study? A technical paper? A brochure? A pricing guide? Access to a sales person? Access to the person who was involved in that project? Make this as easy as possible for the prospect.
12. Make Case Studies Visually Appealing
Generally speaking, we get a better reaction when we ‘show’, not ‘tell’. Charts, graphs, pictures and an attractive design can increase impact.
13. Think about Case Studies as You Do the Work
Many case studies are created under the pressure of a deadline or because a manager suddenly decides ‘we need three new case studies to go on the website next week!’ Quality will be much better if you identify that an UPCOMING project will make a great case study and then capture the information as you go along. The end result may differ from what you original thought but that’s OK. And team members may approach things differently if their work is to be featured later.
14. Select ‘Friendly’ Clients for Case Studies
This is not about getting a favorable bias from clients but you may need their input (e.g. for quotations) and you want them to provide permission and help willingly.
15. Be Willing to Invest
You are developing a marketing asset which might remain current and valuable for many years to come. Get it done properly even if that means engaging writers, designers and people who will challenge your assumptions.