Here’s how getting creative with your approach to case studies can cut out the high-pressure sell.
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Recently, business-to-business (B2B) buyers have begun to resemble consumers when it comes to watching videos.
There are still two important ways, however, that B2B buyers differ from consumers: They aren’t making personal decisions, and they’ll probably need to defend their choices. As a result, they must view advertising a bit differently. That means you need to take a very unique approach to video marketing, showing real customers using products or services. In a recent study of 600 B2B decision-makers, 55 percent said case studies are the best way to move prospects down the purchase funnel.
Here’s why video case studies are a particularly effective vehicle for B2B marketing:
Prospects need something to show their bosses.
Frank V. Cespedes, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, reviewed 34 million customer/content interactions online. He discovered B2B buyers’ single biggest motivator: learning how others are using a product. These buyers aren’t interested in hypotheticals or promises. They want to see outcomes — attributes you can put on display in a case-study video. B2B buyers need something to justify the purchase when they make the ask of their superiors. This gets to the heart of persuading a B2B buyer. It trumps ideas about disruption or category leadership.
Case studies provide social proof.
Social proof rests on the principle that people are more likely to take action when they have seen others take action. The best type of social proof is a recommendation from someone you know and respect. That’s why 84 percent of B2B decision makers start with referrals. That type of connection isn’t always possible, however. Research shows video and images bolster social proof. It’s easier to believe something is true if you see someone insisting that it’s so.
Video case studies cut the salesperson out of the equation.
B2B buyers want information, not a sales pitch. According to Forrester, a research and advisory firm, some 59 percent of buyers prefer to conduct their research online instead of interacting with a sales rep and enduring a pitch. While written content can help buyers do their research, there’s nothing like seeing the product in action or hearing from real customers.
Video case studies are shareable.
B2B buyers like to bounce ideas off their peers, and potential purchasing decisions are no exception. LinkedIn estimates three out of four buyers discuss upcoming purchases via social media. Shareable video gives peers something to look at and comment on. B2B videos are unlikely to go viral in the standard way, but that’s not the goal. B2B videos simply need to be passed around by the right people — people who are part of the purchasing process.
Videos convey emotion.
On paper, the B2B buyer is more rational than the consumer. As the old adage says, people buy emotionally and then justify their decision with logic. But Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard Business School professor, says 95 percent of purchase decisions take place unconsciously. Your clients’ decisions seem rational. B2B customers wouldn’t look back on those decisions as being emotionally driven. After all, they’ve justified their choices. Set aside the PowerPoint presentation and show a moving story instead. Need an example? This video shows the emotional connection between a worker in the field and his chainsaw. It features professional arborist Chris Pratt (no relation to the actor by the same name).
A fresh take on case studies.
Case studies and testimonials don’t have to be dry or boring. They can offer a touch of humor, as Slack does in this case study. (See if you can spot some meta touches in this format that shows workers talking behind the boss’s back in a nod to the television series The Office.) Case studies and testimonials can also be heroic or tell a simple story. And the challenge/solution framework remains a winning template to reach B2B buyers.
Instead of considering a case study a perfunctory box to check off your list, see it for what it is: the perfect canvas on which to present your best case to your target buyer.