The Case for the Case Study: Building Reputation, Leading to Acquisition

Andrew Stanten


When used appropriately, a well written, fact-laden case study can provide the basis for a sustained integrated marketing campaign. Here’s how one Altitude client, Copernicus Group IRB’s (CGIRB), leveraged a compelling case study about going paperless to enhance its image, elevate visibility in its competitive industry and reach its ultimate goal – acquisition.

Zero Moment of Truth

Altitude Marketing's efforts helped Copernicus Group IRB be acquired by a major VC firm.With our keen understanding of business-to-business technology, Altitude’s team of content developers crafted a case study that positioned CGIRB as an innovative leader with superior technology dedicated to creating efficiencies and improving the IRB review process.

CGIRB, an institutional review board (IRB), is an independent organization operating within federal regulations to review and monitor clinical research studies involving human subjects. An IRB’s primary responsibility is to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in research, both before and during studies. IRBs serve a vital oversight role in the drug development and clinical trial process.

Prior to its transformation into a paperless organization, CGIRB generated over 22 feet of paper each week, amounting to approximately 55,000 pages, or 2.86 million pages per year. These physical documents needed to be managed, circulated, filed, stored and ultimately destroyed. Running the day-to-day business of an IRB requires a great deal of internal and external collaboration, managed by strict access controls.

As a result, the process is incredibly document-intensive — a situation with inherent legal and compliance shortcomings, not to mention the time and money spent on document tracking, transporting, and archiving, let alone the paper itself.

Going paperless increased CGIRB’s organizational responsiveness by enabling staff to instantly locate and retrieve documents, reducing the time associated with file requests, audits and submissions in many cases by hours or even days.

In addition to the obvious benefits of storage and accessibility, the new paperless process enabled full text search of all documents, enforced security, provided a regulatory audit trail, conserved personnel resources, saved money for paper cost, shipping and storage and benefitted the environment.

Getting started on the case study, which would document these aforementioned shortcomings and how the organization dealt with them, it was important to know CGIRB’s audience. Despite the obstacles in existing protocols and processes, CGIRB leadership recognized that current and prospective clients would be more inclined to accept new technology and recognize its benefits when evidence of success was provided.

These proof points, spelled out throughout the case study and solidly supported with facts such as cost-saving numbers, environmental impacts and efficiency metrics, clearly illustrated the benefits of paperless IRB review and helped readers to understand a complex system in a way that resonated with them.

Altitude counsels clients on the importance of having solid, well-written content for when the “Zero Moment of Truth” is reached in the buying process.

In this case, the content was so powerful that CGIRB used the case study as the linchpin of a year-long integrated marketing campaign designed to introduce the clinical trial industry’s first completely paperless IRB process in phase one, and in phase two, roll out CGIRB’s new technology platform, CGIRB Connexus®.

Downstream Effect

Once written, the case study, which illustrated the regulatory, efficiency and cost-saving benefits of the paperless system, was used to create a number of downstream marketing opportunities.

In addition to helping readers and potential clients to understand the significance of the new system and detailing the benefits of a paperless review process, it was used to pitch CGIRB leadership for coveted speaking engagements at large industry conferences such as the annual Document Strategy Forum and peer-reviewed articles in industry-leading magazines.

One such publication that featured the case study – as a cover story – was Applied Clinical Trials, one of the largest and most widely read publications in the clinical trials industry.

Each article and speaking engagement in turn created additional marketing opportunities, including award nominations, press releases, event postings, newsletter articles and blogs.

Building on the content created in the case study, Altitude worked with CGIRB to tie all the marketing efforts into positioning the company as an innovative leader, focused on the message of CGIRB Connexus’ tagline, “Managing complexity through innovation®.”

Even more importantly, in an industry where IRBs are viewed as a regulatory hurdles and barriers to the clinical research process, the case study, spinoff articles and speaking engagements helped to separate CGIRB from its competitors. By establishing credibility and carefully cultivating its brand image, CGIRB became known as an agile, responsive partner in human subject protection instead of a regulatory hoop through which to jump.

After a few years of working to build CGIRB’s reputation as a technology-leading IRB, the organization drew the attention of Arsenal Capital Partners, which acquired the company to complement its other IRB holding, Western IRB (WIRB). Following the acquisition, Arsenal has successfully leveraged CGIRB’s image by launching WIRB Connexus™, building on the credibility established by CGIRB’s reputation and leading edge technology to help to create yet more transformative offerings in the clinical research industry.

And that’s the story of how one well-conceptualized, content-heavy, fact-filled case study helped to shape CGIRB’s image and elevate the company to an industry-leading IRB attractive for acquisition and separated from the competition by its superior technology.

Andrew Stanten

Andrew Stanten co-founded Altitude Marketing in 2004. As CEO, he ensures the right people are on board, delivering world-class marketing services to Altitude’s global client base, and staying true to Altitude’s mission, vision and values.
Andrew possesses an innate ability to process, organize and summarize massive volumes of client and market information and turn it into actionable, strategic thinking. This enables Team Altitude to get smart about a company quickly—and develop winning, integrated approaches that vault clients into a position of prominence and strength.
Andrew graduated from Syracuse University and earned his MBA from Lehigh University.