Agency New Business Case Study Series, Part 1: Secure Your Audience
Welcome to the first entry in our RSW/US new business case study series.
Case studies are one of the most effective tools in an agency new business program, and we field a lot of questions from clients about how to start them, build them, and use them effectively.
If these questions sound familiar to you, we recently put out an ebook that’s a great primer on some of the topics we’ll be covering in the series – I recommend giving it a download.
With that in mind, let’s jump right in.
The first component to consider is your audience: who’s actually going to be reading these case studies?
The answer, of course, is new business prospects. That’s the end of our blog, thanks for reading, and see you next week!
Still here? Good, because while the answer is much more nuanced than “prospects,” you’d be surprised how many agencies lose sight of even that fundamental principle.
Case Studies Are A Handshake, Not A Full Pitch
You’re not building these for employees that know your business, current clients that have experience with your services, or even a pitch recipient that’s moved you into the next phase of a search.
At most, you’re writing for someone you’ve given a brief elevator pitch.
More likely, the case study is going in front of someone that has no idea what your specialty is, zero clue about the work you’ve done in the past, and only a cursory guess about who you are and the agency you represent.
It seems obvious, but this is a key factor in putting case studies together: you need information to get to the reader, and you need to get it there fast.
You’ve heard this plenty of times throughout our series, but case studies are your time to shine.
Show off the success metrics that you helped a client achieve, and showcase the visuals that went along with it.
It’s an introduction to your agency – treat it that way and ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward.
Target More Than An Industry
When I say “target audience,” what comes to mind?
For many of you, it’s a sector, and that makes sense: marketers have an inherent preference toward shops with experience in their space, and the effect is felt across the table, with agencies now conditioned to emphasize their work in a given sector.
There’s nothing wrong with this kind of mindset, and we’ll touch on industry-specific language in a bit, but I encourage you to also consider factors like titles that you’re seeing in prospecting.
Speaking to a PR audience versus one in marketing, for example, results in numerous tweaks to language, imagery, and crucially, results featured. Beyond departments, look at the titles – the higher the level of prospect, for example, the more strategic the story you’re telling will need to be. Think quick win stories for lower-level prospects, and framework overhauls for the c-suite readers; yet another question you’ll need to ask about the audience you’re targeting.
While these kinds of tweaks may feel inconsequential, the cohesive message being sent is one of familiarity: we know your company’s challenges, and more importantly, we know how those challenges affect you specifically, whether that’s based on department or title.
Prove You Speak The Language…
There’s a reason that industry jargon is, well, industry jargon.
It’s a calling card that shows, even subconsciously, that you’re part of the [insert industry here] community.
It’s a powerful and easy way to earn some credibility behind your work, and demonstrate value in your knowledge of their space, all just by tossing out a few keystone words or phrases.
The primary goal of a new business case study is to allow prospects to see themselves in your clients’ shoes, and using the language they use everyday makes it that much easier to reach that goal.
…But Don’t Overdo It
While industry language is an effective method of driving engagement with case studies, going as far as pandering is decidedly…less effective.
The goal is to clue the reader into your knowledge of the space – not to jam as many technical terms as possible into the space you’re given.
In other words: demonstrate value, but keep it human.
Agencies are no stranger to audience considerations, but it’s interesting to see how many new business case studies go the “one-size-fits-all” route, sacrificing a measure of effectiveness to speak to anyone and everyone who might give it a read.
It’s understandable to cut corners in the interest of volume and efficiency, but without a focused effort on building around your audience segment, your case studies could very quickly fall under “one-size-fits-none.”