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The power of social proof and how to wield it

As a client, it’s hard when you have to choose a new vendor to deliver a service. It’s not like buying a product where you can see it and try it before you buy.  

The scary reality is that, when hiring someone to deliver a service, the client has to hire someone on trust and then hope that they actually deliver what they say the will. Not a low consideration decision!

To make things even harder, unless the project is for something truly unique that only your firm can provide, there are usually a bunch of vendors for the client to choose from... and they all tend to say the same things and make the same claims.

So how does the client make a choice? And, more importantly, how can you make sure they choose you??

Unless you really do provide something unique—which, in reality, most service providers don’t!—then it will typically come down to your reputation, track record and reference-ability.

To be blunt, no-one fully trusts what you say about your own company—of course you’ll say you’re amazing. However, they do care what other people say about you. 

That’s where having a great set of client case studies comes in. A case study with quotes from the client that explains the great job you did for them—and ideally a breakdown of the results you delivered—is far more powerful than anything you can say about yourself.

Furthermore, if the project described in the case study is really similar to what your new potential client wants, then it can really give them the confidence to choose you.

So, what does a great case study look like? And is one enough or should you have a library of them?

Let’s answer the second question first. I would advise you to have at least one case study for (a) each type of project that you do and (b) each sector you serve.

From the potential new client’s perspective, a case study about a different type of project for a client in a completely different sector is nowhere near as powerful as a case study about exactly the kind of project they want to do from a client in their own sector. Furthermore, if they recognise (and respect) that client, then so much the better.

As for what makes a great case study, in addition to being about a relevant project in the client’s own sector, ideally it will contain the following:

  • A clear explanation of the challenge the client was facing
  • The approach you took to addressing that challenge (what the project was)
  • The results you achieved, quantifiable is possible
  • One or more quotes from the client stating how delighted they are with the results you achieved for them
  • If you can create a nice library of cases studies like this for each project type you do and in each sector you serve, you’ll have something very powerful in your arsenal

So, once you’ve got them, how do you use them?

The great thing about case studies is that they can be used at any stage of the sales process:

  • You can have them on your website as downloads to help convert visitors into leads (e.g. they see a result they’d like to get for themselves and get in touch with you)
  • You can use them in your email campaigns, targeting the right case studies to the relevant audience
  • You can use them further down the sales funnel when your potential client is trying to choose which vendor to go with

Good case studies do take time and effort to create, but they are definitely worth it. The key thing to always remember is that your sales message will be 10x more powerful when it comes from a client rather than just from you, and that’s exactly what case studies enable you to achieve. 

Create and maintain a strong, relevant library of case studies and you’ll be leveraging them—and benefiting from them—for years.