Do Case Studies Work for Marketing?

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

Do case studies work for marketing?

One of the biggest challenges in B2B marketing is convincing stakeholders that even the shiniest, prettiest product isn’t necessarily interesting to anyone outside the company. Just saying your stuff is great won’t move the needle – you need external proof. Do case studies work for marketing? Absolutely!

There are, of course, exceptions. Like Apple. Anything Apple does is newsworthy and interesting. And we all know that anything that Kim Kardashian does right now gets covered (though her 15 minutes may be rapidly coming to a close).

At Altitude, we live, breathe and die by the case study. Content marketing is king and is the cornerstone of effective integrated marketing plans. But it is often difficult to write well.

It’s the classic show vs. tell style of writing that everyone learns in freshman composition.

Do case studies work for marketing? Absolutely – if think about the “so what.”

Where’s the “So What” in Your Case Study?

Widget 3.0 exists. A good content marketer or publicist will ask, “So what?” What can Widget 3.0 do that 2.0 couldn’t? How does the user benefit? Is there someone who upgraded from 2.0 to 3.0 and is singing its praises?

For example, during Kelly’s time at Penn Vet, a new surgery suite opened. It wasn’t the first surgery suite of its kind. It wasn’t unique to veterinary or human medicine. It wasn’t breaking new ground. So while it wouldn’t make national news, it certainly would be appropriate for local coverage as well as industry coverage. As soon as it was used, that is.

While a few of the surgeons’ feathers were ruffled, Kelly made the case for the case study.

She asked, “So what?” The surgery suite wasn’t a novel idea; it wasn’t the first of its kind; the surgeons weren’t the first to use these types of surgical procedures. But Basil, an adorable 4-month-old German shepherd puppy, would die if he didn’t get the surgery he needed. And because his owners lived in Maryland, because Penn Vet is an Ivy League institution and had the closest facility for the type of procedure that would save Basil’s life, a story was born. Coverage was plentiful. Everyone was happy.

Content marketing works even when cute puppies aren’t involved.

Do Case Studies Work for Marketing? Here’s a … Case Study.

Take former Altitude clients Copernicus and Sitrof. Both clients came to Altitude and said, “Put us on the map.”

It just so happened that Copernicus, an independent institutional review board (IRB), was transitioning to electronic paperless management of their entire clinical review process – a process that, in and of itself, is incredibly, relentlessly complex. By going paperless, the company would be the first large-scale IRB to do so. And they’d be doing it using Sitrof’s electronic document management program.

So what? To the general public, this wasn’t exciting news. However, in the life sciences industry, it was groundbreaking.

Going paperless meant more efficient board reviews, speedier sharing of massive amounts of information (Copernicus scanned a total of 1.5 million legacy documents) and lots of time and money saved when those millions of documents no longer needed to be manually filed and stored.

Most importantly, it better ensured the safety and welfare of all human subjects participating in biomedical research – the number one goal of any IRB.

So what did Altitude do? We flipped the story into a detailed case study that got picked up in every major industry publication, including Applied Clinical Trials, the mother of all pharmaceutical trade magazines. The case study was also turned into an abstract that Copernicus leadership used at a number of conferences.

Riding that momentum, the company went on to garner numerous nominations and industry awards – including InfoWorld’s Green 15 Award, which honors companies worldwide that have embraced green technology.

Copernicus was not only on the map; they were now a major player in their industry.

Where are Copernicus and Sitrof today?

Just two years after both companies came to Altitude asking for help, both companies were bought.

Do case studies work for marketing? There’s your answer – yes.

Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.