You are sitting in weekly sales meeting and your sales leader asks, “Who’s got new case studies we can use?” The room is eerily quiet as heads tuck down and eyes are averted. Very rarely does one just “have a case study” on hand.
Yet, salespeople are constantly asked to provide case studies to management and marketing. Similar to referrals, case studies are on of the most powerful tool in sales, and sometimes the hardest to get and create. Like anything else in media, case studies require planning and preparation to deliver results.
Do It Right
Follow a set of best practices to enhance your ability to deliver case studies and create a testimonial that will benefit your sales, your company and your client. Case studies happen at the beginning of the sales process, not at the end. Just as when you are agreeing upon the metrics of success with the client and agency, you must agree upon what results should be delivered to become a case study. You want to do all you can to “bet on a winner,” since you do not ask for case studies every day.
So be confident in the likelihood that the ask will turn into a potentially viable case study. In addition, you must agree upfront on the conditions of the case study. Such qualifiers are: what metrics will be released- just the media or will client sales metrics be included; will this be used for future client presentations; are there plans for use in a more public forum of press and conferences? Finally, clarify up front all the parties that will be involved in creating and approving the case study.
Recently, an account exec experienced the effects of not understanding clearing all the qualifiers on the front end. He had approval from the agency to do a case study on a campaign conducted with a major chain. But, he neglected to clarify that the case study would be used externally, in a planned press event. Once it became time to get client approval of the case study release, and it was a strong case study, the AE was informed that the client does not allow any third-party press releases on campaigns they are involved in and it had to be shuttered. Good case study for making sure everything is covered up front.
As with any campaign, keep a close eye on the progress of the campaign and adjust accordingly. But make sure that your operations teams is aware of the metrics that will track to support a good case study. Sometimes, the metrics normally followed and optimized against are not the ones that are pertinent to the story you hope to tell.
In another example, a seller was building a study around engagement of a rich-media unit. Halfway through the campaign, as she went to gather the first data points, she learned that Account Management did not turn on any time spent tracking. Fortunately, there was enough time remaining to effectively track time spent on the unit. Lesson: Monitor, track, and gather data as the campaign happens, not at the end.
Get The Word Out
Once a campaign is complete, work with all available resources—internally, and externally—at the agency and the client. Engage your public relations resources to determine the best message that confirms the initial case study proof-of-performance objectives. As you have confirmed approval on the frontend, ask for testimonial statements from key decision makers at the client and agency, just as you would in requesting a referral. The more presence and involvement the client and agency have in the case study, the stronger the results.
As for the AE described earlier who didn’t realize the client did not allow press around results? I am happy to say he is about to release a case study even stronger than the one that he had before. This time, he is doing an interview with the CEO and has strong metrics to show the marketplace and the press, because he followed the best practices, throughout the campaign.
Once you have a great story, make use of it everywhere you can. Press, your media kit, speaking engagements, marketing materials, prospect presentations. Offer it up to the client and agency to use as well to maximize benefits for all.
One of the most rewarding experiences I had in a previous sales leadership position was being able to participate in an IAB Case Study roadshow around a campaign that a gaming client conducted with the property that I was responsible for. What made it so rewarding was that the client and the agency sat at on the panel- with me- in 7 different cities presenting the case study together, in true partnership. That is a good case study in itself!
Brad Davis is CRO/ EVP-Sales at Photobucket, one of the world’s leading dedicated photo and video sharing services. Look for their columns every fourth Tuesday on The Makegood.