If you’ve ever hired someone to write a case study, white paper, or special report (or even written one yourself), you know that research is significant to the process. And I think it’s fair to say that for most of us, research begins with Google.
Online research is the gold standard today and yields valuable results for sure. But I’ve found that interviewing a subject matter expert (SME) never lets me down when I’m in the hunt for premium content. Facts and details garnered from conversations with an expert can uncover some sparkling gems of information.
But that’s not the only reason why I suggest interviewing as an alternative to Google. Here are some more that make it worthwhile.
~ Reduces research time. Scouring the web for articles that may or may not provide useful information can eat up a good chunk of time. Sometimes it feels like you’re circling your topic, slowly closing in on it with narrower search queries until finally, you hit some results that fit. This hit-or-miss searching is a time-waster.
When you interview, by preparing questions in advance, you can approach the topic head-on and collect up-to-date, specific industry information from an expert. I can generally accomplish this in about 30 minutes to an hour.
~ Information gaps are quicker to fill in when you interview a subject matter expert. With online research, the information that’s returned sometimes isn’t quite right. The focus might be too narrow or addresses only one part of your topic. So you keep searching for the additional pieces. And when you find them, there’s the chance that the information is out of date, incomplete, or too general.
Or, maybe you have a good grasp of the topic you’re writing about but want to dig deeper. Input from an expert source could help you flesh out some juicy details.
~ Some of the best content lives in another person’s head. Because your expert is sharing her unique perspective and experience, insightful and profound details often bubble up to the surface during the interview. Your back-and-forth discussion can go down paths that you might not have considered and lead to quality material. Such tasty morsels can offer a writer more clarity, and clear writing is a goal of any edu-marketing piece
Research doesn’t have to begin and end with Google. Why not give interviewing a try? I think the stellar results you can achieve will surprise you.
You’re probably thinking I mean content marketing and yes, I do.
But I like the term edu-marketing better.
It underscores that marketing is more than just a sales pitch, it can, and should, educate too.
The thing about edu-marketing is that your ‘students’ aren’t there because they’re chasing passing grades.
No, their goal is information. Useful, valuable, educational information that will help them figure out how to solve their problem.
And what makes this useful, valuable, educational information even better is that it doesn't cost them anything.
Edu-marketing doesn’t explicitly promote your product or service.
The soft-sell approach is what makes case studies and white papers so effective.
Sounds a bit crazy, especially since traditional animal health marketing has always been about making the sale and product focused.
But edu-marketing isn’t about convincing customers to buy, it’s about helping them to understand.
It’s a knowledge-share by way of facts, details, statistics, and proof. The substance that helps people justify to themselves and others why a certain decision should (or shouldn’t) be made.
Case studies, white papers, blog articles, and special reports are just a few ways to accomplish this.
Well-written content that’s clear and germane to your targeted audience can pay future dividends. It positions you as a credible source, an important component in a business relationship, especially when you’re trying to build one.
If growing your business with edu-marketing interests you, or maybe it’s a concept that you’d like to hear more about, you can sign up for my monthly enewsletter right at the top of this page.
And, if you have a project in mind that you'd like to get rolling with, you can contact me here.
“We’re going to do a long form and short form version this time,” my client wrote in his email.
My brows furrowed at what I’d just read.
He was talking about the new case study that he wanted me to write. “The short form we’ll use for social media and blog posts.”
I found myself nodding in agreement. A well-written case study is a versatile marketing tool.
A typical case study is basically a lengthy customer review, around 500 - 800 words. A case study highlights the journey taken by a satisfied customer in a quest to solve a problem, a problem that your product or service ultimately solved. Because a case study tells the story of the customer’s experience, before and after she chose your product, there’s no hard selling or marketing lingo.
Be sure to include some direct quotes from the client that emphasize her satisfaction with your company's product or performance. Did she comment that your customer service was outstanding whenever she called with a question, or that implementation went flawlessly? In addition, any numbers that can support claims of improvement or measurable results add validity to the study.
Case studies are a perfect resource to share on your website for reference, or to hand out at trade shows or conferences. They can even be transformed into press releases. And editing the study to a shorter version of its former self, as my client wanted me to do, provides even more ways to promote your product in other channels.
I read an excellent “mini” version just recently in the Dell Small Business Catalog. With just a few quotes from the CEO of the small, featured startup, the diminutive “Customer Story,” a mere 189 words, succinctly explained the benefits of using a Dell Small Business Technology Advisor.
Whether traditional long form or an abbreviated variation, take advantage of your customers’ satisfaction and let them promote your product through a case study.
Suzanne Quigley - Copywriter