When you’ve made the effort to write up your client case studies, it is important to get the most out of each story, without boring your regular readers by repeatedly sharing the same posts! If you’re regularly producing newsletter content and articles or blogs for other channels, it helps to keep your efforts focused on a few key priorities for your business:
Before you develop a new case study, plan who it’s for:
Stats show that sharing content works best for businesses to pull in more website traffic when you’re sharing more than four blogs a month. (See Hubspot Blogging Frequency Benchmark Data) However, if none of your blogs or case studies are relevant to the people you want to reach – what’s the point? Before you start, get a clear and specific idea of who you are writing for and what will be most relevant to them. A helpful tip for profiling who you want to reach is to use the customer avatar sheet from Digital Marketer. It looks at all the aspects – location, career, interests, sources of information plus their role in the purchase process for your services.
Set themes for all your content – blogs, case studies, and event talks
To make the most of writing up a case study, it needs to fit within a range of blogs and content for social media, where you are sharing your expertise for free. This helps potential clients realise what you’re capable of – and realise how they would benefit from working with you. If you are speaking at an event, you can plan which topics will support what you’re saying on the day, and which client case studies would be relevant.
For a service business, you can share a blog or video about the process of design and build, and link it to a case study. The follow up content could cover maintenance and repair or updates – and still link to the same case study, or a different one.
Align case studies with your most profitable products and services
Be aware: even though your client case studies are one of your most valuable sales tools, they should NOT be full of product information and blatant sales messages. The main body of the story should showcase what was happening for the customer before they met you. Then you can and should mention which of your services that client is using, and how your services solve the customer’s pain. A credible case study will talk about the impact on their situation, and measure any improvements and success they’ve achieved. By including a personal testimonial direct from the client, you can bring the story to life – and use that in a considered way on your social media posts.
Share your client case studies with the press
Finding time to contact journalists and share your expertise with them is tricky, however, once you include it in the flow of your marketing, it becomes easier. Select a limited number of media contacts who are really interested in your subject matter and take time to build the relationships. When you’ve got a great story, they will be more receptive to publishing it.
My top tip for making sure your case study efforts aren’t wasted (sitting on your website with no traffic!) is to have a half day media training with a local PR agent. That way, you can learn a lot about the local press network, learn how to pitch your stories and get more confident for telephone interviews with journalists. It’s a positive halfway step towards selecting a PR agent and outsourcing the whole plan.
If half a day is too much time out on a single day, you could try a PR coach who offers online support and regular tips to grow the number of articles your business is mentioned in. You’ll need to schedule 45-90 minutes every week to stay on track with your plan, even if you’re only aiming for coverage once every few months. Once your content gets out there, you’ll find the momentum builds – the important thing is to make a plan and keep going!
I’m a Partner Writer with case study creation service, Case Study Ninja – where PR placement and social media support is part of the premium Marketing Case Study offer. Do contact me if you’d like a 30-minutes case study review call on how to do more with yours.
For small business owners who would like more publicity, there are several options which don’t cost too much – yet will require time and effort to build a process. Your case studies, featuring your clients, can be a great way to share new and interesting stories. So when your clients are happy and willing, you can work together to get more publicity.
Janet Murray, who runs the Soulful PR Studio, held a webinar last week looking at how to create a PR strategy in 30 minutes, which reminded me how to keep the process simple and consistent for producing case studies with clients. Here are my top tips for smaller businesses to create and share their stories:
Be clear about the objectives: why do you want more publicity?
Is it to become recognised as an individual expert in your field?
Do you want to raise awareness of the company name and brand values?
Are you looking to integrate PR with a wider marketing campaign to grow the number of enquiries?
Do you have loyal clients to recommend your products and services, to demonstrate what you can do?
Ultimately, if you’re spending time and money on publicity, you’ll need to track how it contributes to more sales. This will take time and consistent effort, so choosing your strategy will help you plan how to keep going and get your team to help you.
Set up a PR process which works for a small business
To get more publicity, you’ll need a PR process to involve the people who contact your clients every day, either in sales or customer service roles.
A regular PR meeting
Help your team to put on a temporary ‘marketing’ hat, with a short meeting to discuss publicity opportunities every month. You can tell the team what you’re aiming for – and talk about the best ways to encourage happy clients to get involved. You need two or three people thinking proactively, to spot which clients may have similar goals to grow their brand and get more publicity. While speaking to clients on the phone or in person, they can check how happy these clients are with the service your business provides. If they are willing to talk about the results achieved, it’s a win-win situation to write up a case study.
Frequently asked questions
In any business providing services and expertise, clients will often ask questions. It’s worth keeping a log of these queries – they are useful in so many ways and once you’ve given the answer, you or the team may need to find it for the next person. Over time, you can build up a series of case studies and articles which answer the most common questions – providing plenty of material to plan publicity and drive inbound website traffic via blogs, helpful downloads, and email marketing.
Content schedule or editorial calendar
A calendar is most often used for keeping track of key events and a schedule for social media, however, it’s also important for your publicity plans. It takes 2-3 weeks to develop a client case study (sometimes much longer, if people are busy!) and if you want to share it with the press for a particular date, journalists will need the story 4-6 weeks in advance.
People to help
As a business leader, there isn’t time for you to do everything. To keep your publicity efforts consistent, you need several different skill sets involved. These will include:
Someone to manage the plan and talk to the customer facing team regularly.
Someone who is a good writer and understands search engine optimisation to produce the content.
Someone to develop good contacts with the press and share your stories.
Someone to organise your news stories and case studies online and archive them when out of date.
If you can allocate a reasonable budget to it, a PR agency will, of course, cover all of those. If you hire a freelancer or copy writer, check which parts they are happy to do for you – and which you will need to manage internally. Ad-hoc PR efforts might go to waste if you don’t stick to a plan, however, with the right support, you can get a positive flow of publicity over time.
Sign off by all the people involved
People are busy and signing off your case study is usually a low priority. Giving people dates and setting expectations in advance can help – and let them know who else will need to read it and agree the words.
Once written up, a case study can be presented in many different formats – video, email attachment and printable format – to hand out at meetings, or events after you’ve shared it with press contacts. To extend the reach of your published articles, it helps to support your PR efforts with regular social media posts on similar topics. Overall, case studies are great way to prove how you can help your ideal clients to achieve their goals and the publicity will benefit both of you.
Contact me if you’d like to review the opportunities for more client case studies. Or visit Case Study Ninja for more information on creating, storing and sharing your case studies.
Marketing and HR: How entering Awards will boost your business internally and externally
Last week was busy for me with positive celebrations, with the Freelance Mums on International Women’s Day, and then Women of the Year Awards with the Bristol Women’s Tech Hub. These events got me thinking about who wants to be an award-winning business? And why awards are important for small businesses, just as much as for large corporates.
There are two distinct benefits to the label, “award-winning.” The first benefit is all about boosting your marketing. The second benefit is how motivating awards can be for your people. If you ever hesitate to enter your business for an award, have a look at the positive impact they can have on your business, both internally and externally – and go for it:
“My business is too small.”
Specifically designed for small businesses, a new round of awards are open for entries until 31 March – The Small Awards with plenty of publicity from the team behind Small Business Saturday.
“I don’t know which awards to enter”
This is easily solved, when you make the decision as part of your marketing strategy. Applying for any award should always link back to a specific business goal. Some examples:
Demonstrate service quality: if your business focuses on providing excellent service, you can show your commitment by entering UK Customer Satisfaction Awards.
“What difference will winning an award make to my clients or our business marketing?”
To build existing relationships, you can invite clients along to celebrate success with you. To reach new audiences, you can make the most of the publicity and community which builds in the run up to the awards event. The marketing surrounding the event will amplify your message for potential new clients to hear about you, once you’re a finalist.
Becoming an award-winning business
“I don’t think we will win” – well, it’s time to roll out an old cliché – you’ve got to be in it!
Entering awards means practicing and perfecting your written pitch. Submitting the form raises your business profile, because people who may never have heard of you will be reviewing the applications and entry forms. And often, a community evolves on social media among the entrants.
When completing the awards submission form, take a similar approach as you would in a face to face sales pitch. Who do you help, why do they need you and what results do you achieve?
Include your key marketing messages and benefits of your services, matching the tone of your statements or answers with what you say on your website.
Use your planned milestones and key case studies to demonstrate what you have achieved against your business goals. Keep client case studies short, yet tell the story of their pain and how you provided a solution. (Note: You don’t need to use the word solution!)
Even if you only make the shortlist or finalists for an award, you can share it on social media and engage with the other participants in the run up to the ceremony.
“We don’t have time to enter Awards and go to celebratory dinners.”
Here’s the perspective where the Human Resources factors are at play. How much does it affect your business productivity when your people are feeling more motivated, and proud of the place they work?
A method like Insights Discovery profiling (using DISC – which I first learned about, over ten years ago) will show you what mix of skills and personality types you have employed in your company. If your team is made up of an average mix of people, there will be a number of Red and Yellow types (the extroverts) who would care, and be proud to work for an award-winning business. The Greens will care about how their team-mates are feeling. Making an effort to enter awards reflects positive recognition for team efforts – which can have a positive effect on their overall motivation. (And when it comes to submitting your award entry, the Blues can check whether you’ve presented all the arguments relevant to winning the award.)
It’s possible that some Awards appear frivolous, or it may feel slightly embarrassing to nominate your own company. However, to boost your marketing by entering awards, you’ll need to flip that attitude around and start thinking about the positives for your business.
Awards are a great way to reward the hard work of your people – and for some, it will be fun way to celebrate the year of working together.