Content creation in the manufacturing industry can seem challenging. In fact, 62% of manufacturing marketings consider creating engaging content a challenge to thier marketing success. In reality, though, the manufacturing industry lends itself very well to a large variety of relevant, necessary, and engaging content types for its audience. Case studies are one such type of content that is especially impactful in this field. Hardly anyone wants to be the first person on the market to try and test a new product. But in the industrial sector, this is especially true, as equipment and materials are high cost and thier quality (or lack thereof) can have significant consequences on projects and even personel. No matter how dynamic a product you own, customers need some time to build trust in your brand and product. Case studies that document client satisfaction and success are a great way to do so. This article offers 6 tips for how to write a case study that will help your product be adopted by new and current clients.
1. Find the Right Users
The first step is to find key users whose experience with your product or service most clearly and completely demonstrates its benefits. These are customers who have seen highly positive, measurable results since the implementation of your product or service and who are a good fit with your ideal customer profile—i.e., not too much of an outlier from your target market. Once you’ve selected a customer that fits these criteria, figure out how you’re going to ask.
A case study can be a good bartering point when clients ask for discounts or other promotional deals. It’s also important to point out to your prospective case study that this is an opportunity for their business to highlight success as well. Being the focus of your case study will help them with link building and improve brand breadth.
2. Write the Case Study Internally
Don’t outsource this one. This is something that you need to create internally, since your company is responsible for the concept of the product and you know the key takeaways you want readers to gain. You can most easily and effectively incorporate the points you wish to make including: the objectives behind the product design, the obstacles it is meant to overcome, and how it achieves this.
You will need to ask your customer to draft up a review and provide you with some specifics about their experience. It’s advisable to conduct a short interview with your client to their perspective on the following points:
- The specific obstacle they were facing and needed to overcome
- What alternative solutions they considered before moving forward with your product or service
- The process of implementing your product or service and how it impacted their performance in the relevant space
- The results that your product or service has given rise to
Once you’ve collected all the information, write an outline which explicitly states the points you want to make and craft the case study using the material you’ve gathered.
3. Be Specific and Have a Hook
The more specific and quantifiable your study is, the better. You want to clearly and undeniably demonstrate the benefits of your product or service. Take a look at this case study by GE Automation. Graphs or charts that make numbers stand out are a great option.
Make sure you hook readers in by leading in with the most valuable and compelling information. The title alone sets up the value proposition: “Mining company uses Mine Performance to improve throughput by more than 5.5%.” The very first page states simply and clearly, “the challenge,” “the action,” and some quantified results. Leverage figures and mention key words when and where possible.
4. Streamline the Approval Process
Your client is naturally going to want to review a draft before they sign off on anything attributed to them. Make the approval process go smoothly and efficiently by providing them with a draft that highlights the sections that need their review—specifically sections related to their experience in which they are quoted directly, in paraphrase, or by implication. Sections that include your own discussion of your product or service and its features are not going to be of the same relevance to them, but anything that is “from their mouth” is going to need their thumbs up. Also make sure any images or media that feature their employees, facilities, work, logo, etc. are approved. Finally, select a quote that drives home your key take away and let your client know this will be prominently featured. Clearly identifying portions of the case study that reference your client specifically and bring these to their attention during the review process will minimize delays.
5. Produce a Complete and Polished Work
You want a case study that will entice your audience read and discover the value of your product or service. An effective case study should be informative, but also have a clear direction and message to your audience. Good information isn’t quite enough, though. The whole package should draw your audience in with discussion complimented by compelling visuals. Show and tell, always show and tell–use images, charts, before and after shots, pictures of satisfied customers (were appropriate and approved). The entire work should be polished and complete before presenting it to the public. Take another good look at GE’s case study mentioned above. I mean, seriously. It is good lookin’.
6. Be Heard
Once your case study is complete, get it out in all your channels so your message is heard. You want it to be known widely that you have clients that are seeing success as a result of their partnership with you. Post it on your blog, share it on social, include it in any emailings you send to your contacts. Make sure that you have live links to your products or landing pages for info/quote requests or whitepapers/eBooks that will be relevant to readers. This way your case study will be a lead generation device.