This week, Promotional Consultant Today is taking a close look at case studies. Case studies are an excellent way to express your value proposition. Today, PCT examines the buying cycle to determine the point at which case studies are most effective at influencing the potential buyer’s behavior.
In order to determine when to introduce a case study, you must first have a good understanding of your customer’s buying cycle. While every industry is different and buying cycle lengths are different, generally speaking, there are four phases of a buying cycle: awareness, consideration, evaluation and purchase.
Case studies can be effective in different phases of the buying cycle, depending on the goal of the case study and how it’s structured. A case study that emphasizes potential benefits and business results can be effective in phases one and two of the buying cycle where the potential customer is becoming aware of their pain points and your solutions. A customer success story that focuses on what differentiates you from your competitors by highlighting your great customer service would be more appropriate for potential customers who are in the evaluation phase of the sales cycle.
The buying phase you want to influence will also determine the way you distribute your case study. During the awareness phase, the potential customer will find your case study, either on your website, through search engines or perhaps through distribution, such as a tradeshow booth.
In the consideration phase, your potential customer might come across your case study landing page, either through an e-mail campaign that you send to leads, through social media links or other contacts. In general, these prospects have already had some level of interaction with your business, even if it was a one-time touch.
Case studies used in the evaluation phase are going to be more detailed, showing actual comparisons to competitors. At this point, the customer has had more contact with your organization. This could be a tool that a sales professional personally gives to the potential customer to help influence the final decision.
When determining the most effective ways to use case studies, realize that there are multiple ways to draft, promote and distribute this tool, depending on who you want to influence, and how and when you want to influence their decision.
Source: Cassandra Johnson is a tech-savvy marketing communications consultant and freelance writer. She reports on the latest trends in the promotional products industry, public relations, direct marketing, e-marketing and more. She supports clients in a variety of industries, including promotional products, hospitality, financial services, technology and healthcare.