The secret ingredients to great case studies

Posted: April 27, 2010 in customers/buyers, vendors

Case studies, one of the old standbys of marketing, must be driven by what the reader (read: customer, client, user) wants.  This kind of case study is all too rare, however.  Marketers and engineers who produce them typically focus on extraneous content irrelevant to real customers.

We asked several hundred CIOs of Fortune 1000 companies what they look for in a case study when they’re performing due diligence on vendors.  Four elements stood out:

1. How the product/service would contribute to their business goals

2. What the vendor is doing now for companies similar to their own

3. How the product/service is competitively superior

4. How the product/service is tailored to their industry.

The trick is to involve your happy customers from start to finish when you prepare a case study on them.   Most will be only too happy to help.

“It is amazing how many (case studies) are just marketing fluff,” says Daniel A. Nottke, CIO at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.  When he’s sizing up a prospective vendor, Nottke looks for detailed case studies, wanting to see “more than the typical two or four pages that are supplied today that seem to be done more to say
Company X did this.’ I care less about who the company is that did that, and more
about how, why and if the delivery met original expectations.”

Case studies are not only a reward for vendors, but also a way for buyers in the same industryto educate and inform each other about issues that impact them. “Case studies are a tool that is [underused] by a lot of vendors,” says Alan Davies, CIO of Dematic Systems. “I have done a number of them because  I felt there was merit in sharing our experience with others, and the vendor’s performance during the project was also
worthy of credit.”

These, and other factoids, can be read in Vendor-CIO First Contact: Smarter Approaches for Vendors Seeking to Connect with CIOs, available from CIO Executive Council.

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