Using PR case studies as a sales and marketing tool

Have you ever flipped through a magazine (or scrolled through an industry website) and saw an article about your competition? If the answer is “yes,” then your competition is most likely implementing a proactive public relations efforts and using a variety of PR Tools, such as a case study, to build awareness of their company’s brand.

EyE Trax article — Construction Business Owner, December 2014

EyE Trax article — Construction Business Owner, December 2014

To effectively compete, it’s time for you to engage in a PR effort of your own.

When you market to professional trade industries, case studies (otherwise known as job stories or customer success stories) are one of the most effective sales and marketing tools you have to position your company as an industry expert. A case study can position your company and products as being innovative, problem solvers and/or “newsworthy.” And since a case study is not a paid placement, readers respond differently — perceiving your brand to be trustworthy. 

A little bit about case studies

Case studies typically range in length from 1,000 to 1,200 words and follow one of three formats: Success story, Problem/solution or Trends or Maintenance.

  • A success story highlights a specific project, featuring details on all of the work that went into completing it, and it often showcases the equipment as the hero of the story.
  • A problem/solution case study features a particular jobsite challenge and highlights how the equipment offered a unique and/or innovative solution to that challenge.
  • A trends or maintenance article discusses current topics affecting and influencing the industry and features comments from product experts at the manufacturing level.

The development process

As you begin to develop a PR case study, it is important to start with looking through the publications’ editorial calendars to identify what topics that are most relevant to the industry. This includes monitoring key publications in your target markets to notice what features they will be running in the next 2-6 months. 

Once you have identified opportunities in the trade magazines for your PR case study, the next step is to work with your company’s key customers, distributors and/or team members to create the case study. Here are some quick tips to get your case study underway:

  • Ask your distributors/team members to identify customers’ success stories, unique applications and/or best practices happening in their area
  • Make contact with the customers and develop the case study angle through a series of interviews
  • Write a draft of the case study, positioning customers/distributors and/or team members as experts on equipment, applications and equipment acquisition
  • Route the completed case study to the customer and distributor for review and approval
  • Incorporate any changes provided and finalize the case study 

The next step in the case study process is to gather photography that supports the subject of the case study. Here are ways to accomplish this:

  • Utilize existing photography in your image library. These images work well for accompanying trends and maintenance case studies
  • Ask customers to provide photography. Images must meet safety requirements and be high-resolution quality (1 MB or greater).
  • Engage a professional photographer to capture images of the equipment working. This increases opportunities from prominent placement within publications, including front covers and lead articles
  • Capture video. Many publications are looking to include video links on their websites, as well as highlighting these videos on their YouTube channel.

Once the case study is written, and you have identified photos to use with it, it is time for the final step in the development process: Working with industry editors to publish the case study. This includes contacting niche publications and pitching them the case study angle that would interest their readers. If the editors are interested, send them the case study and photos as soon as possible. You know the old saying, “the early bird catches the worm,” well that holds true for getting content published. The sooner you submit content to an editor the more likely your chances are of getting published.

After the case study is published, be sure to “clip” or get copies of the placement for your customers, distributors and team members as a way to say thank you for their participation and to highlight the importance of their contribution.

Other ways to use PR case studies are to edit them down to one-page testimonials and provide them to team members and distributors as sales tools. Also, customers can use this same content for their own newsletters, websites and new business opportunities.

While the case study development process isn’t an easy one to master, it is worth it. A well-placed article will grow your brand presences among potential customers, drive website traffic and generate sales leads. 

Of course, the easiest and quickest way to get started is by engaging with PR professionals to jump-start your efforts. That’s where we can help! Give us a call (515-988-9481) or drop us an email (todd@signaturestylepr.com).