September 21, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

This low-cost marketing method is guaranteed to increase business

Ron Stein | 1/28/2013

Wouldn’t it be great if your company’s best customers were on standby to speak one-on-one with prospects? There’s nothing better than a valued customer telling your story for you in-person. Now that would drive more sales!

Imagine an existing customer answering the critical questions prospects have rumbling around inside their heads. Such as what the issues were, the solution your business provided, and the results achieved.

But, the reality is that even a truly grateful customer will feel overused if called too often to go to bat for you. That’s too bad.

Of all the marketing tactics you can use, testimonials are a proven way to increase your business. And a live, face-to-face testimonial is virtually guaranteed to close deals.

So, do the next best thing -- provide case studies as part of your marketing toolkit. Use them to help generate high-quality leads, build mindshare, and encourage prospects to take the next step.

And no matter the format, a case study will be one of your most cost-effective marketing initiatives, paying for itself hundreds, if not a thousand times over.

Here are three tips to help you create and use case studies that get results.

Tell the complete story, but keep it short. The best case studies read like a novelette with just enough content to showcase your customer's experience and clearly show why they love your solution. Try for a journalistic style of writing that is clear, direct, and straightforward -- with a beginning, middle, and end of the story. Include quotes from your customers that embrace the compelling elements. Like any good story, it’s OK to capture your customer’s enthusiasm to ensure it’s not dry. Images of your customer in their environment and diagrams will add visual impact. Charts and statistics will support the story by showing measurable results.

Be specific. Demonstrate how a specific issue was identified, which one of your products or services were selected to solve it, and then summarize how you resolved the problem and what that meant to your customer. Without question, you need to weave key selling points and competitive advantages in the narrative -- just remember that it’s about your existing customer “connecting” with your prospect, so no hard selling. Case studies encourage prospects to seek more information and take the next step with your company. When people want to speak with your about how your solution can help them, the case study has done it’s job.

Use different case study formats.Mix it up a bit and appeal to your prospects in the way they like to get information. Develop written, audio, and video versions. Written case studies can be handed to prospects, mailed to them with a personal note, added to your social media site, and downloaded from your website -- written case studies should be no more than two pages long. Create a podcast series highlighting the different problems you solved for featured customers. Design an infographic and use it in your tradeshow booth. And of course create lots of videos of your customers “talking” directly to prospects and load them onto your YouTube channel. The byproduct of using these different formats and methods is that the search engines will love them!

Case studies are a much more powerful way to show prospects what you’re made of than just listing a bunch of positive testimonials. They provide the next best thing to a face-to-face endorsement with a happy customer and are more likely to get you a sale than most other marketing tactics.


Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's business coach, Ron Stein
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com

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