Charles Abel
25th February 2020 - 6 mins read
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ou’ll notice I’ve left the caps lock on when I’ve written the TRUTH. That is because it is an acronym used to describe what the term ‘newsworthy’ means.

And it also applies to case studies. You can read more about what it stands for in this recent blog, but for now I want to focus on just two elements of it which are crucial for writing convincing, authentic, memorable and believable case studies.

 

Trouble

When we think about the testimonials and case studies we read when we are looking to buy something, they are often little more than a description of the product and a few lines on why they liked it.

And this is all a bit bland. The quality of many case studies is dubious at best.

To make something attention-grabbing you need to have that trouble element. By that, I mean that your product or service will have solved a particular problem. And solutions sell, so it is crucial you find this type of content.

The fun bit here is that that the trouble element may not be your customer’s problem. It could be a concern they had about your product or service before they chose to buy. Perhaps they didn’t think that it could do the job properly until they saw it in action.

I recently bought a laminator and I wasn’t convinced that this particular one I was interested in could treat the thickness of material I wanted to use. I was worried about the thickness going through the laminator and then I saw this one testimonial that said it is absolutely fine with 250 microns and it solved my worry about the product.

 

Human interest

Your case study also has got to have the H-word – human interest.

As a journalist, I have made money writing stories that are full of human interest – they are about people, not products and services.

And it is the people that bought your product or service that matter. How did they feel? What motivated them? What was their emotional response? You have got to get to this to bring the story to life otherwise it is just a corporate brochure. And that is boring.

So, how do we get to this content?

The key is in the questions that we ask. You need to ask questions that steer and guide the person you are talking to away from saying bland things like ‘it is brilliant’.

A question that works really well is something along the lines of ‘what were you concerned about before you bought this product?’.

They might respond by saying something like “I didn’t think it would be cost-effective”; “I thought it would be too expensive”; “I didn’t think the service would be good enough”.

And from there you can find out what changed their mind and convinced them to buy.

Another question I love to ask, is “what did you enjoy most about the product/service?”.

We get too bogged down with the logical, rational reasons for doing things. They might be worthy, but they are also dull. A more emotional response can be much more impactful. For a car, something along the lines of “what I really enjoy is that you can get to the national speed limit from the traffic lights far quicker than anyone else” might really resonate with some audiences.

I wrote a testimonial on an Israeli plastics manufacturer which produces these huge rolls of netting wrap. The man I was speaking to was talking about the benefits but was also saying how heavy they were and said that when they added a handle it made it so easy to put in the machine. At that point, the case study came alive.

The other great benefit of this type of question is it encourages people to talk in a natural way. There is a great risk with case studies that people will talk to you corporate to corporate, business to business and that is bland, boring and turns people off. 

You want them to talk to you as if you are their friend and use that language and talking about enjoyment can achieve that.

“Is there anything you’d like to add?” This may sound like an innocuous question. Perhaps, more of an afterthought. But you would be amazed how many good stories I’ve got from asking this simple question as a journalist.

And it works for case studies as well. You tend to find that because the interview feels like it has come to an end, they are more relaxed and speak more freely. You can find some real gems of information through this question.

What else can you learn from journalists that might help with your case studies?

Well, a crucial one is avoiding offering copy approval. 

If you send them the text, you can be sure they will worry about it and they will pass it around colleagues who have had nothing to do with it, and it will come back with all the good stuff stripped out. Instead of copy approval, I ask them at the end of the interview if they are happy with everything that has been said and give them a summary of what I have taken from it. That’s the end of my approval process.

Another useful tip is to think in advance about what you want them to say and then tee them up to say it. Phrasing a question by starting with ‘would it be fair to say that…’ can be a good way of achieving this.

When newspapers quote ‘sources’ in their articles it is often seen as half-truths and spin and there is a growing backlash against it in the age of fake news. And it is the same with anonymous case studies. If you saw a case study from ‘service user, Peterborough’, would you believe it?

This is a person who isn’t prepared to put his name to the comment. So where is the integrity? Did he really believe what he said? If you are reading that you are thinking “this is rubbish”. Prove the person is authentic by including their name, job title and a little bit of information about their business.

My final point here is that you need to be careful with your editing. If you try to polish too much you are going to end up with something that resembles an advert. Journalists don’t change their quotes and neither should you. Rephrasing is a terrible thing to do which takes away authenticity and the customer will invariably see through it.

But where are you going to get these testimonials from?

Just like a journalist, you need to cast your net far and wide and have different strategies to gather the content you need.

It is key that you engage your sales team and ensure they understand the benefits of what you are trying to achieve so that they don’t see it as a marketing whim. They will have the relationship with customers and will be able to identify the success stories where one of their clients may be willing to speak.

It is important here that they are able to tell the client what they will get out of the process – raising their profile.

Another good avenue for spotting case study opportunities is social media. Make sure you know what people are saying about you.

And make it easy for people to leave case studies and testimonials on your website through a simple form.

The final point from me is that everyone seems to be looking to create a case study that will go viral and get thousands of clicks. But will anyone buy anything else as a result? This process isn’t just about generating clicks – it is about creating something helpful that encourages people to find out more and ultimately buy.

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is a podcast or email marketing.

Marketing

Celebrities vs locals- the rise of the micro-influencer

Emily Stonham 7th December 2018 — 5 mins read
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his used to be the best way to use influencer marketing in business. Looking to sell a new perfume? Find out who your target audience is, figure out who’s on the posters on their bedroom wall and there’s your answer. And there’s nothing wrong with this, per se. Celebrity endorsements do still work, specifically for brands and luxury goods on social media.

But there’s a fairly new form of endorsement sneakily taking over the marketing and advertising industries: micro-influencers. Using these influencers is becoming more and more common as modern brands see the value of scaling down their campaigns to reach a more targeted audience.

Firstly, what exactly is a micro-influencer? Tribe (a popular platform which connects influencers to brands) defines micro-influencers as ‘everyday people with a decent following’ who post about specific niche interests and passions. ‘Micro’ is fairly subjective, but in terms of social media it usually revolves around having a few thousand followers who interact with your content regularly.

This is a great way of summing it up, as one of the main advantages of micro-influencers is that they’re just normal people who’ve done well for themselves online.

One of the reasons that celebrity endorsements sometimes don’t do as well in modern society is because consumers are now aware of how polished and honed a celebrity appearance online is. Sure, they might be raving about how much they love that new sweatshirt, but they’ve probably been given it for free on a PR list and had six people work on the social media post before posting. It looks great, but it just isn’t authentic.

Most modern consumers want authenticity - specifically younger consumers, for whom this form of marketing is so relevant. Despite the media raving about how younger generations are addicted to social media and celebrities, many are actually turning away from a digital-focused life. The pressures of keeping up a perfect appearance online and trying to live like idols can have a huge impact on mental health and well-being.

Thus, highly polished celebrity endorsements just don’t have the same impact that they did 10 years ago. There seems to be a rising lack of trust in big brands and celebrities, which is affecting the way consumers behave. Just Google a brand name with ‘conspiracy theory’ or ‘scam’ behind it. There’ll probably be someone who’s convinced that the brand works for the Illuminati. And who’s to say they don’t?

In all seriousness, marketers need to be aware of this shift in attitude, especially if they’re targeting younger audiences. Micro-influencers are the perfect way to promote products and communicate with an audience, without losing their interest and trust. This may not seem like the best marketing strategy if you’re a large brand, but like I said earlier, there’s a lot of large brands using micro-influencers to their advantage.

One key example of micro-influencers being used is ASOS’s insiders. The ‘insiders’ are a team of fashion influencers who use their personal social accounts to promote ASOS content and engage with their audience. This particular influencer marketing scheme is famous in the industry as it’s incredibly successful.

The influencers all have unique styles, ranging from 90s tomboy chic to over-sized LA vintage. There’s something for everyone, and it’s clear that these are all styles that the influencers are genuinely passionate about. Therefore, it’s easy for consumers to relate to these people and feel more invested in their lives.

Obviously, these influencers now have large followings, but they all started out as just regular folk posting on Instagram. They’re now present across multiple platforms and constantly growing their audience. The appeal is how normal these people are. Who would you rather listen to for a review? A multi-millionaire celebrity or someone who you’d probably bump into in your favourite store?

Another great user of micro-influencers is Glossier. The company has a great online presence, particularly on Instagram. There are two elements that it’s aced for influencer marketing: fashion micro-influencers and niche memers.

Firstly, it uses a lot of user-generated content and micro-influencers to promote its products. It recently launched a referral program to reward its most loyal and influential fans online, which is boosting its profile even further.

Glossier creator Emily Weiss said recently in an interview that something that motivated her team was the idea of ‘every woman being an influencer’. This can be seen on its Instagram where it frequently reposts and celebrates its followers who promote its products. The overlap between micro-influencers and user-generated content is growing, and it has created nothing but positivity for Glossier.

It has also cracked the niche meme market well, which is notorious for the number of micro-influencers it’s created. Niche memes are a unique style of online content, specifically found on Instagram, which are very personal and visual posts. They’re often in the style of mood boards or aesthetic posts, but they originally started as more of a scrapbook/visual diary-styled post for people to express themselves and talk about sensitive topics online.

The fact that these niche memes are so personal means that people often post about their favourite brands and shops, and this is where micro-influencers come in. Glossier has collaborated with a number of moodboard/niche meme accounts and given them discount codes to promote to their followers.

This was a great move on Glossier’s part, as niche meme followers are normally incredibly invested in the pages that they follow and trust the owner’s opinions much more than they’d trust a celebrity. A lot of brands have done this, but few have achieved the success rates and status that Glossier gained from this marketing move.

So, what does this mean for your business?

If you’re considering using influencers, it’s worth looking into micro-influencers. Take some time to research what pages are relatively popular on your chosen platform, or look into influencer platforms like Tribe or AspireIQ. Using a smaller but more targeted page can often lead to better results and a more positive reaction from your audience.

If you’re set on using a celebrity or someone with a huge following, think about the authenticity of your message. Would that person’s audience really like what you’re asking them to promote? If not, your brand is going to seem fake and untrustworthy. Try chatting with them for a while to find out more about their audience and previous sponsored content, to get a better feel for how you could work with them.

On a broader level, think about the authenticity of your brand’s advertising and marketing campaigns. Consider whether your audience is going to actually like your product and your message, or whether you’re just trying to reach as many people as possible. Modern consumers are intelligent, and they can spot a fake review or endorsement a mile away.

 

Thirty Seven is proud to offer a huge range of content creation and marketing services. Get in touch with us today to see how we could help your business.

Adam Fisher
10th December 2018 - 4 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.