Why the Decision phase of the buying process is the hardest.

I recently posed a question to the B2B Technology Marketing Community group on LinkedIn:

“Looking for advice or services on creating tech case studies. Any best practices out there for identifying and recruiting customers to feature in a case study?”

Who knew that writing effective case studies was such a hot topic? The comments, ideas, and answers provided by fellow members of the group have been outstanding thus far. What brought me to pose this question to the group was the ongoing struggles I have had with recruiting customers to help create case studies.

That whole “decision” phase of the buying process that, historically, we have struggled with addressing. And rightfully so. When you think about it, getting potential customers past the decision phase and into the purchase phase should be the most difficult.

If you are struggling with creating compelling case studies, I encourage you to check out the string on LinkedIn. There are some very insightful and enlightening comments from fellow B2B technology marketers.

Based on all of the comments, I’ve started taking some notes, and will use this post as a way to organize my thoughts…

Storytelling is key – create an editorial calendar of stories that not only align to company priorities, but also captivate the reader, and put the customer first.

Involve Sales – Sales has the relationship with the customer, so think of ways to involve them more, provide incentives, show how you are going to help tell their customers’ story, more than our own.

Utilize Customer Satisfaction Surveys – Leverage existing, or create a new survey that enables customers to provide feedback as to the business relationship with your company. This can be a great source for potential customer advocates willing to share their story.

Provide a template – It’s important to share with sales and the customer what you are looking for.  Be up front as to what the content will include and what you will need from them to best tell the story.

Don’t just focus on products – Great stories may also be about the company-customer relationship.  How did your company help customer XYZ operationally?  Sometimes the most compelling stories go beyond the product.  It’s whole product marketing!

Make them easy to find – There are benefits to deploying case studies in web format over pdf in terms of search optimization.  Of course, for sales to hand out or email to prospective customers, a polished pdf version may also be needed.  Don’t assume one size fits all in how you disposition the content.

It’s all in the name – Maybe the term “case study” is over used. Maybe it’s self-serving in nature.  Think about using a customer centric naming convention like “technology brief”, “solutions brief”.

Encourage copycats – Plan your content around customers you want to replicate. In other words, focus the compelling stories you create on areas you can replicate from one customer to the next.  The real value is in when potential customers read stories that resonate with their business problems, and can easily be solved.

Avoid Testimonials – Effective case studies, solutions briefs, technology briefs, etc. do not simply mean a customer touts your product or company as great.  It should be the reverse. You should be touting how great your customer is, and how you played a role in their success.

I’m sure there will be more to add to this as we progress in our planning and execution. And, I am sure to have more questions to pose, but I do feel much better as to the direction I am heading.

Thanks fellow B2B Technology Marketers!

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3 thoughts on “Why the Decision phase of the buying process is the hardest.

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