B2B Case Studies: How to Create Case Studies that Help You Land Your Ideal Customers

Documenting successful projects and sharing them can be helpful for any business. That’s why B2B case studies are so important for both selling and content marketing.

Case studies are stories that describe successful customer relationships, about how your company managed to correctly identify your clients’ problems, proposed solutions, and finally how you solved these problems. Case studies can be very efficient because they prove your product is working for your customers with claims backed by their own words. This is the power case studies can have, a potential of immense and long-term benefit for any business or startup.

Why Case Studies Matter?

Case studies are an essential currency in B2B. They tell a story of what a great job you did for one of your customers, so prospective customers understand you can do the same for them. Prospects must see themselves in your examples and messaging, the examples must be relatable, they should see the real value that your company can provide. B2B case studies are good for quickly building credibility. The important thing is that they reflect the worldview of your prospects and buyers.

What are the Major Benefits of B2B Case Studies?

Case studies have many benefits. The stories are backed up by testimonials coming from real people, real customers whose work has been improved by your product. When a claim is backed up by real stories, it becomes a fact and that is very compelling to potential clients. Furthermore, case studies can be used in many ways: on your website, on social media, for PR and marketing purposes, for ads, presentations, and in your newsletters.

How to Find the Right Customers for Case Studies

In order to select the right customers for a case study, there are a few things to consider: your target audience, the story, their experience, and how long they’ve been customers. Always keep in mind who your ideal customers are to increase the likelihood of attracting the right audience. Featuring customers with recognizable names can also a good idea but, for that to work, they have to be companies your ideal customers respect and want to emulate.

You want to look for customers who have achieved exceptional results, or who got a significant return on their investment using your product. Their experience has to be positive and their words about the value they got from your product have to be true and genuine. This is why customers who have been with you for some time generally make the best candidates.

Customers that switched over from a competitor can also be good candidates. They’ll be able to highlight your competitive advantages and the ease of switching over from another vendor.

How to Motivate Customers to Participate in Case Studies

Melanie Crissey, former product marketer at FullStory, recommends working in case study discounts in contract renewals. Offering discounts for participation in case studies might be a good motivation for your customers. Make sure to select customers who have good product knowledge, have used your product for a long time or use it extensively. This will ensure that the information they provide is clear, detailed, and relatable for other customers.

What Questions to Ask to Create an Effective B2B Case Studies

The best way to interview your customers is in person. This way, you will build a better connection and get the best results. Be friendly, ask open questions and initiate a free conversation. Make sure to have a list of questions prepared ahead of time.

Here are a few questions you can ask to get meaningful answers:

  • Tell me a little bit about your company, and what do you do there?
  • What challenges did you face before coming to us?
  • What solutions were you considering?
  • What eventually made you decide to choose our product? Why?
  • When did you start noticing the first results?
  • How did our product impact your business operations?
  • What do you enjoy the most about our product?
  • Can you share any specific benefits of using our product?
  • What would you tell other organizations considering our product?

How to Write Great B2B Case Studies

A reasonable length for a case study is around 500 words. It has to be short and easy to understand, while still being written well and captivating. You want to make sure your case study has a logical flow and tells the story from start to finish. A great case study allows readers to really get to know your customer. You’ll want to explain the problem, introduce their company/product, describe how the challenge was overcome, and sum it up, giving it a happy ending.

You should include real numbers and measurable results. Talk about the specific strategies used, and quote your customer in their own words. Your goal is to make sure your prospects identify with your current customers.

Consider sharing the draft of your case study with the customer before publishing. This will allow them to fact-check it and they might add some more valuable information along the way.

How to Use the Case Study

There are many ways to maximize the use of your case studies. The most obvious one is to feature your case study on the homepage of your website, or a dedicated landing page. Make sure visitors don’t have to look for it and that it’s highly visible. B2B case studies can also make great blog posts too, so you can put a quote from the case study on the main page and add a link to the full case study.

You can also create a PDF/Download version of your case study or include it in a newsletter to nurture leads or prospects. Reading how similar organizations are getting value from your product can help customers make their purchase decision.

Posting case studies on your social media is also a great idea. If you tag your interviewee and their company, it will likely be visible to their followers as well which will give you more visibility. Lastly, you can promote your case studies with paid ads to help acquire more users and customers.

What to do if B2B Case Studies Are Not an Option

There are times when your best customers won’t be willing to take part in a case study. Perhaps they’re limited in what they can say publicly, or they’re simply unwilling.

If that’s the case, you can make other arrangements, like using their logos on your website, asking them for a short quote, publish a joint press release, or do a joint presentation about the deal. There are always ways to use customer success to gain more customers.

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🔥 New Book: Solving Product, a GPS for Entrepreneurs & Product Teams

Solving Product – A New Book for Entrepreneurs & Product Teams

If you’ve read Lean B2B, you could reasonably be wondering: “What happens once I reach product-market fit?” Is everything fine and dandy after?

This, is one of the questions I aimed to answer when I began work on the book that would eventually become Solving Product.

To find the answers, I…

  • Spoke to some of the most successful technology entrepreneurs today including B2B veterans like Hiten Shah, Dan Martell, and David Cancel.
  • Spoke to growth and product leaders at organizations like Google, LinkedIn, and HubSpot.
  • Spent time testing and researching hundreds of customer research techniques and product and growth frameworks.

The more research I did and the more I learned, the more questions I was able to answer. Now, no matter where you are in the product growth cycle—at the idea stage, at maturity, or somewhere in between—you can use Solving Product to gain clarity and move a product business forward.

“A GPS for Entrepreneurs and Product Teams”

Solving Product isn’t your typical business book. It’s not a book that was written to be read front to back, then simply put away.

It was carefully designed to help entrepreneurs and product teams reveal the gaps in their business models, find new avenues for growth, and systematically overcome their next hurdles by leveraging the greatest resource at their disposal: customers.

Solving Product will help you:

  • Gain clarity by revealing gaps and blindsides in your product strategy;
  • Overcome blockers by laying out clear action plans to get your business moving;
  • Ignite growth by helping you find new approaches to get your product growing.

The book contains more than 25 case studies and actionable advice from hundreds of product leaders and customer research experts.

It’s a book you’ll find yourself going back to, time and time again.

What Early Readers Are Saying:

Here’s what product leaders and entrepreneurs are saying about Solving Product:

Samuel Hulick – Solving Product Testimonial for Entrepreneurs & Product Teams “Everyone knows that research is a requirement for improving growth processes, but very few people know which particular research practices are right for their current goals. This book collects the world’s brightest ideas on this topic, and organizes them in a way that makes it easy for anyone—regardless of company size—to know exactly which techniques will achieve outsized returns.” – Samuel Hulick, Founder, UserOnboard
Sam Shepler – Solving Product Testimonial “With Solving Product, Étienne Garbugli has written a practical and motivating primer on how to drive growth by leveraging the greatest resource at your disposal: Your customers. Étienne’s framework is incredibly valuable both for new founders looking to cultivate traction—as well as mature companies who need to launch new product lines and expand their services.” – Sam Shepler, Founder & CEO, Testimonial Hero
Nicolas Cossette – Solving Product Testimonial “Solving Product demonstrates how user-centered design and research are intrinsically connected to the acceleration of your business. The book provides a practical guide to leveraging customer-focused strategies, frameworks and tactics that will help you fuel your growth and move to the next stage.” – Nicolas Cossette, Head of Growth & Operations, Matador.ai
Amanda Robinson – Solving Product Testimonial “No matter where you are in the product growth cycle—in the early stages of sparking and shaping a new idea, fanning the flames of growth, or seeking strategies to stem complacency and loss of market share—Solving Product will meet you where you are and lead you out of the darkness. Each section and chapter is packed with immediately actionable tips and tactics. I highly recommend keeping it within reach at all times.” – Amanda Robinson, Product Manager, Salesfloor

Solving Product is now available for purchase:

📘 Get Your Copy of Solving Product Today

How to Use The Customer Discovery Process to Reduce Your Startup’s Risk

The Customer Discovery Process – Biggest Risks for Startups

According to research by CB Insights, the top reasons for startup failure are:

  • Lack of market need (42%);
  • Lack of cash (29%);
  • Wrong team (23%);
  • Too much competition (19%);
  • Pricing power (18%);
  • Poor product (17%);
  • Business model (17%);
  • Ineffective marketing (14%).

The biggest risks for your startup will then often be:

  1. Being able to sell the product and generate revenue;
  2. Being able to get it adopted and deliver value in organizations;
  3. Being able to effectively reach the buyers and decision-makers in businesses;
  4. Being able to differentiate your offering on the market and generate awareness to get the growth engines going.

These uncertainties stack up.

Although you’ll probably want to create an uncertainty map to understand your biggest risks and assumptions, you’ll also want to leverage a customer discovery process to learn about the riskiest parts of your model.

Using The Customer Discovery Process to Define the Product Value & Expected Business Outcomes

There are three parts to product-market fit:

  1. Revenue – being able to sell the product;
  2. Retention – being able to get the product used repeatedly over a period of time;
  3. Growth – being able to generate positive word of mouth from the product.
  4. The early steps of the customer discovery process are about capturing data on these 3 parts of your startup.

    But by far, the one that hurts the most teams is not being able to monetize the value created.

    To that end, you want to focus on finding balance between what your product does, the impact it has on organizations, and how much you charge for it.

    For this phase, your goals will be to:

    • Define / find agreement on the problem definition;
    • Define / find agreement on the outcome / expected return on investment;
    • Identify how to differentiate your solution on the market.

    Those questions will help enrich and re-validate your understanding of the problem.

    A lot of innovation issues stem from mis-alignments around defining what the problem really is. It’s best to get clear agreement on what the problem is as soon as possible.

    Defining The Problem Statement

    The problem statement is foundational. According to entrepreneur Lenny Rachitsky, it needs to be short, clear, reference a “need” that’s not being fulfilled, include a what and a why, and be agnostic of a solution.

    Here are good and bad examples:

    • ✅ Users are dropping off at too high a rate at the final step of the signup flow.
    • ❌ We need to build a loyalty program.

    Similarly, if your prospects have a different take on what needle the product needs to move, you won’t be able to build a clear solution.

    Understanding the Problem & Outcomes

    During the customer discovery process, you’ll want to do problem drilldown, define the whole product (the minimum set of requirements), and understand how the value will be calculated.

    Here are a few sample customer interview questions to help you do this:

    • How are you currently solving this problem?
    • How do you typically work around this problem?
    • What are the minimal criteria required to work with your company?
    • How did you decide on your current solution? What made this the best option for your organization?
    • What tells you it gives you a positive ROI?

    Get Started Fast – Download my Latest B2B Customer Interview Script for Free

    You’ll want to get to the root causes of the problem by asking why repeatedly. I recommend using the 5 Why technique for this.

    By the end of the interview series, you should have clarity as to what the exact problem is, a confirmation that this is a real problem you can solve, and have an idea of the expected ROI / what outcome needs to be delivered.

    • Problem: What problem is this solving?
    • Why: How do we know this is a real problem and worth solving?
    • Success: How do we know if we’ve solved this problem?
    • Audience: Who are we building for?

    These will go a long way in defining the pitch you use moving forward, but they also won’t be enough.

    To move forward, you need to confirm that, if you build a product that meets their needs, they’ll buy.

    Pre-Selling Your Product to Prospects

    At this point, and before going too far, you’ll want to make an offer and pre-sell your solution to get your first customers.

    You can do this over the course of a followup discussion – a solution interview – where you show a demo of a minimum viable product or a presentation, explain the value and the process for development, give a price and pre-sell it, by sticking to your price point and ask the prospects to buy your solutions.

    If they don’t buy, understand why before moving on.

    Pre-selling a product is the best way to confirm market need.

    I go into way more details on building an MVP, conducting solution interviews, and closing sales in the Lean B2B Course, but this should help you get started.

    How to Find Growth Channels & Refine Your Messaging With the Customer Discovery Process

    Once the buying process and the influencers are becoming clearer, take a step back. Look across the various organizations you’re targeting.

    Are there any patterns? What are the key roles?

    This information will help drive and improve your early sales process. But it definitely doesn’t end there.

    To move things forward, set up customer acquisition processes, and improve your close rate, you’ll want to understand the people behind those roles.

    Take the lead. Work with your buyer or your change agent to get warm introductions to the other influencers in their organizations.

    Your goal is to:

    • Understand their realities;
    • Understand their win results – what they hope to gain by working with your company;
    • Understand their doubts and evaluation criteria;
    • Find ways to reach them effectively.

    Sample Questions to Learn Business Objectives & the Buying Process

    You’ll want to ask customer interview questions like:

    • What are your objectives this year?
    • How will you be evaluated this year?
    • What keeps you up at night? Why?
    • What are your top three challenges?
    • How do you feel about the current situation?
    • What would be the impact of solving this problem?
    • How are you currently handling problem X?
    • What are the minimal criteria required to work with your company?
    • What will tell you that this solution’s implementation is successful?
    • Who are the visionaries you respect?
    • What are some of the blogs, websites or publications that you read?

    Sift through the data. Look for inconsistencies or clashes with your understanding of the business direction to find potential blockers.

    You can use this information to refine your pitch and handle objections.

    Reassuring the other buying influencers and meeting their expectations will improve the certainty that your solution actually gets used and adopted.

    Understanding what visionaries they respect and where they go for product research will help you find channels to scale your growth efforts once you’ve found product-market fit.

    There are a lot of things you can learn at this stage to improve your pitch and the fit of your solution within organizations, so keep at it.

    More on The Customer Discovery Process