Is It Time To Re-Think How Marketers Create Case Studies?
Dave Gerhardt: Hey, what's up everybody. It's DG. I'm back with another episode of this Swipe File. Today, what I want to talk about is, I want to talk about case studies, and why you need to get rid of your traditional case studies if you're in marketing. Okay. Something I've been thinking about a lot is case studies, and I shared this in a talk that I gave recently. Last week I was at an event in Chicago for G2, formerly G2 Crowd. I can't not say G2 Crowd, I know that. I try not to do it though, because as a marketer, I appreciate the branding exercise, and try to stick to it, so I'm going to say G2. I'm going to say G2. It was amazing event. It was called Reach, and it was really cool, because what they did was, they had one room and two stages, and it was basically dueling stages. There was a marketing track and a sales track, and while somebody on the marketing track was speaking, they just split the room by a curtain, directly behind them was a salesperson, was the sales track that was going on. It was like a silent disco format. Everybody in the audience wore headphones. If you've ever been to a wedding that's had that, I'd never done that. It was also the first time I've spoken to a room like that, but it was cool because it meant both sessions could go on at once. The hard part was, I'm a pretty animated talker, and so, it was hard to not yell, and then it'd be really loud in people's ears. It was really weird to be up on this stage in front of a couple 100 people, and then having to be like, hey, I'm Dave versus being like, what's up, everybody, I'm super excited to be here, but it was a lot of fun, and the response was awesome. The audience was awesome. It's so much fun. The way that I know that if a message resonated or not was, after I talked and I go over to the corner and go hide and pull up Twitter on my phone, and right away, I can tell if it was a topic that punched people in the gut or hit with people solely based on the response on Twitter. If I go on Twitter, and there's basically nothing there, then I know I didn't have the right content for the right audience, but this audience was amazing. The response was awesome, and I gave a new talk for the first time. I wanted to give a talk that had nothing to do with technology, because I wanted to show the power of social psychology, and people, and all the stuff that we've learned at Drift, and David, DC has pushed me to go focus on since the beginning. I called it 10 timeless marketing rules that will help you attract your dream customers, create super fans, and run laps around the competition. I had done a podcast on this before, you could go back and check it out if you want, about my 10 marketing commandments, the 10 rules for modern marketing, but I riffed on that a little bit and turned it into this, which is more of a timeless lesson. Anyway, the talk was awesome. G2 Crowd was a lot of fun. Thank you for having me. That format was really cool. I do miss hearing the audience interact a little bit more, but it was still pretty fun. Ryan, who's a CMO of G2, he did an awesome job. Anyway, one thing that I want to talk about though was, I don't want to give away all 10, because I'm going to give this talk again, and I want to save some of the juice from it, but one of the points that I talked about in this talk was about why I think marketers need to rethink what they're doing with case studies. The way that I talk people through it is... Because I know when you talk to a room full of marketing people, and you're like, look, everyone can agree that case studies are the holy grail in marketing. You want customer examples that's what the sales team wants. That's what product marketing wants. That's what you want on the website. That's what your CEO wants. Everybody wants case studies, but there's this huge thing that's broken, which is that, as a consumer, most of us don't actually trust case studies anymore, because we don't believe them. We know that the vendor or whoever just wrote them... As a marketer, I know how case studies get made. They get made by a marketer, basically interviewing a customer. A customer says, hey, I could be a case study or a marketer identifies it. Then you go and interview them. Then you basically write the story you want to tell, you get a quote. You write their quote for them, they approve it, and boom, you have a case study. I think people know that, and so, people are a little bit more allergic to this highly manicured recommendations of a company. I'm not saying don't use your case studies. I just think they're not as effective as they used to be, because everybody has case studies today, and they're a little bit too manicured for us to believe as buyers today. I have this one trick that I wanted to share, to make them more believable, and it's something that we've done at Drift for a while now that we've learned is, if you really want to make your case studies more believable, the best thing that you can do is to not always think about these highly manicured case studies, but to have this, what I call, social proof that's out in the wild. You know what social proof is, but if you can fill up your website and sales emails and decks with real examples, something somebody said on Twitter, a comment somebody left on Instagram, a post somebody made on Instagram, a YouTube video somebody made, a review on a review site, like G2 or TrustRadius or Yelp or Amazon, that's the best type of case studies and social proof you can find today. One of my favorite examples of this is not a B2B example. It's actually a company called Glossier, G- L- O- S- S- I- E- R. com. They make beauty products, not a sponsor of this podcast, whatever, but they do an awesome job of basically making all of their testimonials real. If you go to their website, they have this one section that's real people sharing their real life routines, and they have real pictures of their customers with little quotes and snippets that they said, and that feels so much realer and more authentic and believable than these highly manufactured case studies. One way that we've taken that to another level is, if you go to drift. com/ love, this is a page that we have that's almost an infinite scroll of tweets. We have somebody on our team go through social every month, and we're just always keeping a bookmark of the best tweets that we get, just put them in a Google sheet or something, and then we go and we update this page once a month. Now, if you go to drift. com/ love, you just see all these real things people said about us, and I think that that's so much more relatable than having this highly manufactured case study. The other great thing, as a marketer, you don't have to go ask for an interview and permission to use this. These are public words. These are things somebody said on a forum like Twitter, that you can just go grab, which is amazing. While we're talking about the social proof and the tweets, one thing that we got, an example of how you can turn this into a bigger marketing campaign, as opposed to just having it on your website, which by the way, you could just easily embed... I would just embed tweets all over my website of things that people said. About six months ago, we got this one tweet, and it was from Anna, and she said," My @ Drift bot booked a meeting while I was sleeping, I'm stoked," nerd face emoji. And we had this crazy idea, which is, wait a second, that tweet is awesome. What if that tweet was a billboard, that tweet should just be a billboard itself, no ad from Drift, just that. We DM'd her and we said," Hey, Anna, that Drift tweet just made my week, so awesome. This might sound crazy, but we're doing a new ad campaign, and we want to feature customer tweets just like this. Would it be okay if we use this?" And she wrote back, it was like," Totally. Huge fan." Fast forward a couple of weeks later, we literally had a billboard up in San Francisco that was her tweet. And then she went out to her tweet and took a picture of herself in front of the billboard with her tweet, and tweeted," Pretty sure my @ Drift bot booked a meeting while I was out searching for this billboard# inception." That is the best type of marketing that we could get. It's real. It's her. Timestamped with her words up on a billboard is incredible. Another thing you could do is take... Review sites are amazing. G2 is where we focus a lot of our time from a review perspective. A couple months ago, we were named the number one conversational marketing vendor on G2 Crowd. And by the way, we beat the competition in every category, one, two, three, four, five, six categories. One thing that we did, this page, you can find if you go to drift. com/ drift- vs, drift- vs, like drift verse. If you go to that page, we have the testimonials and the case studies, front and center, on that this page. This is not a case study, but it's a quote. It's a picture from Adrian," Drift put money in my pocket. The other day, I asked an SDR for feedback on our investment in Drift. His response was to the point.'Drift, put money in my pocket, boom.'" That's a picture of a real review that's on that page, and that's better than any marketing that we could create. My push is, maybe keep doing your case studies, that's fine, but try to find ways to use real words in your marketing. All these examples that I talk through today and getting social proof you can find out in the wild, the reason it's so powerful is because you're using their words, not yours. Today, we live in this world where nobody wants to be marketed to. Nobody wants to be marketed to, nobody wants to be sold to, and so everybody's bullshit meter is way higher for things that they think feel like marketing. The more your stuff can not feel like marketing the better, and one of the easiest ways to make it not feel like marketing is to use their words and not yours, and make it all about your customers and the actual things they're saying about your business and your product and your service. Let me know what you think. I know it might be crazy to get rid of your case studies, but you know you don't get anything great in marketing, unless you're willing to take a risk. Try to load up your marketing with social proof, use the real stuff, and let me know if this resonated with you. Tweet at me @ davegerhardt. I would love to hear from you. Let me know what you're doing, how you're using social proof in your marketing. That's one thing that I hope might help. That'll do it for this little episode of the Swipe File. I am going to go get some lunch now. I hope you have an amazing week, and I will talk to you soon. Hey, thanks for listening to another episode of the Swipe File. 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