The Value of Marketing Case Studies When Evaluating Potential Vendors

Case Study

The field of marketing is broad, with vendors ranging from the tactical (copywriters) to the highly technical (AI, AR and VR)—and everything in between.

Case studies are one marketing tactic used by vendors to display and explain the services they provide and the benefits/impact of those services for their clients. Administrators and marketing professionals in healthcare settings of all kinds often rely on these case studies to help them make decisions about which vendors to consider, and which ones to potentially select.

The Documented Value of Case Studies

The vast majority of consumers look to their peers for recommendations of all kinds—from which doctor to go to, to which car to buy, where to send kids to school, and which marketing vendors to use. In fact, research conducted annually by Edelman, a top PR firm, continues to indicate that “a person like me” ranks high in terms of credibility in trust (although, like all categories during the pandemic, this one lost a few points from 2020 to 2021). This “a person like me” is more trusted than CEO—and far more trusted than government officials and journalists (who came in dead last this year).

In addition, it’s widely known by marketers that word-of-mouth tends to be the most powerful influencers for healthcare consumers making provider choices. And, in fact, word-of-mouth is a top driver of purchase decisions across most industries—driving 20-50% of all purchasing decisions according to McKinsey & Company.

Case studies leverage the power of word-of-mouth in a formal way by taking a deep dive into an individual customer’s experience related to a specific problem or situation they faced. Traditional case studies follow a very common approach: introduce the customer organization, outline the problem, explain the selected vendor solution and steps used to implement, share the results.

For marketing vendors of all kinds case studies can be a powerful way to support your own marketing messages through the words of your satisfied customers.

Using Case Studies to Evaluate Potential Vendors

As marketers well know, everyone likes a good story. Good case studies are, in essence, good stories. They tell a tale of how a specific customer applied a product, service or approach that addressed a problem or generated desired results. In the process they yield insights not only into the value and effectiveness of the highlighted vendor, product, or service, but into potential new ideas and best practices as well.

“I rely heavily on case studies when making vendor decisions,” says Joanne Moretti, CMO for DecisionLink, a Customer Value Management (CVM) service provider that offers a case study builder. “A brand is a promise and vendors with customers willing to participate in case studies have kept their promises,” she says. “Those are the vendors I want to do business with.”

Moretti says that she is most positively influenced by case students that include quantitative metrics and qualitative information about the product that clearly illustrate outcomes. She doesn’t like case studies that are “all fluff with no real substance.” These, she says, “remind me of late-night infomercials because they seem so staged.” Case studies with customer comments like “I love this product and you should buy it too,” simply create skepticism, she says, because that input is too vague.

There are other potential benefits that case studies can provide healthcare marketers—like ideas and best practice examples that they can incorporate in their own marketing efforts.

“I am always intrigued by insights from amazing case studies,” says Moretti. “I’m often learning new, creative and interesting ways to improve or add to my marketing strategies treasure chest.”

For those seeking services case studies provide insights into how others are solving common problems, the goals and strategies in place at other healthcare organizations and insights into the approach individual vendors are providing. Healthcare marketers are able to both assess the potential benefit individual vendors may provide and identify new approaches to issues they’re facing.

Creating Case Studies That Resonate

Chloe Sisson is the Outreach Coordinator for Zen Media, a B2B digital marketing and PR agency for tech brands. Zen include case studies under a tab on its website. “We are proud of what we’ve helped our client achieve and want to share that with potential clients,” says Sisson. “Everyone wants to know that their money is being spent well; sharing case studies gives clients that extra security that they need for them to choose to work with Zen.”  

When creating case studies vendors, of course, want to convey positive information about the value of their services. In doing so, though, they need to find the right balance between “just the facts” and the type of chest thumping that can be a quick turnoff to many potential customers and clients.

Potential customers want to see evidence that you can deliver on what you’re promising, says Sisson. Zen’s case study examples include the before, the marketing campaign that Zen implemented, and the results. “Providing real numbers and strategies helps clients envision what Zen could do for their brand,” says Sisson. “We make sure to feature clients where Zen produced creative work and saw great results because of it.”

This HubSpot piece offers some additional tips and suggestions for writing case studies that will resonate.  Keep in mind that today’s case studies don’t have to—and, in fact, often don’t—take the form of the traditional hard copy, 8 ½ x 11 flat. Today, case studies often tend to be of the virtual variety but, again, not just in a print format. Vendors of all kinds are using other formats—like infographics, audio and, increasingly, video, to share their case studies.

Case Studies – A New MarTech.Health feature

The clients listed on vendor profiles now link directly to their case studies. It’s a quick way to research firms, and find the right ones for your needs. This profile for Coffey Communications is a good example.

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