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What is the financial value of business case studies?

Victoria Tomlinson posted this on

This was a great question posed – hypothetically – by John, a global marketing director at a major corporate.

We were discussing the value that global brands put on their reputation – and how these brands want to protect their name through very strict terms and conditions with suppliers. It is very common for contracts to specify that there must be no mention of a company name on any websites or in PR materials etc. And of course, when a sales person is about to sign a deal with one of the world’s biggest names in search engines, software, airlines or whatever – they are not about to quibble over minor points like these!

  1. Global brands don’t want others jumping on their bandwagon

I came across one aspect of this when working with a guest blogger for our client, Bradford University School of Management. The School ran an MBA programme for Emirates Airline for many years. When we followed up with alumnus Mohit Soral to write a guest blog – he did the MBA in Dubai eleven years ago – Emirates understandably said there shouldn’t be any suggestion of attributing the airline’s success to the MBA programme.

Bradford University Blog

When a corporation becomes the world’s biggest, best, leading or whatever, suppliers will of course want to associate with that brand and perhaps claim some of the credit for success?

And yet, case studies are one of the quickest ways to explain what a business does, how they can help other companies in similar situations and give credibility to their brand.

  1. What is the sales value of a case study?

So back to John’s thought-provoking question. What is the financial value of a case study based on work with a global name?

We toyed around with figures such as £50k, £100k – perhaps more? Of course the actual value will depend on the business and the value of typical orders. Suppose a typical contract was worth £250k. What would a case study, based on a global name client, enable you to sell on the back of it?

But perhaps we could work out a formula to give case studies a value (interestingly if you do a Google search on the subject, nothing around this topic appears – an opportunity for an academic?)

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Here are a few thoughts as to how you might work out a value

  • If you were able to increase the value of typical orders by 50%, you could value the case study by the estimated number of additional orders you win at the new value. Say 10 new orders at £375k – the case study value would be the additional element of contracts – £125k – multiplied by the number of orders. In this case 10, giving a case study value of £1,250,000
  • A case study might give you the credibility to get through the door of new companies. Here you would attribute the value of the total new orders by the number of new client wins. Say it was four new companies at £250k, the value would be £1m

Of course, your sales team would not put anything like this value onto a case study – it will always be their skills that won the order! And the reality is that rarely does one element win new business. Nearly always it is a mix of contacts, sales ability, chemistry, track record, quality of products and services, price and more.

  1. How to write a killer case study

For those wondering what should be in a case study to create such sales worth (it does make you think when you start putting a value on them?), typically it would be

  • The client situation – the problem or challenge they were facing
  • A brief outline of your own product or service that they bought – and, without any puffery, bring out the USPs of your product
  • The measurable benefits – reduced time, reduced costs, increased customers and so on
  • And a quote from the client – not ‘we were delighted with …’ but a meaty comment that adds value to the story

There are a number of case studies on our own website – have a read of these client stories (and I realise it’s time we updated our own database of case studies!).

Have you ever tried to put a value on case studies? What formula do you use? And can you estimate the extent to which they help to sign up a new customer?

We’d love to hear your views – and of course help you if you want to write a bank of sales winning case studies and testimonials.

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