Why Case Studies Can Help You Successfully Sell Variable Data Print

Written by Matthew Parker
Print Industry Consultant

Your Customers Need Proof with VDP
Can you imagine a criminal being convicted in a court of law without proof?
It is unthinkable that a judge and jury would pass sentence without being sure of guilt.  To ensure a guilty verdict, the prosecution must ensure that they have all the correct evidence.
The judge and jury need to be sure that they are making the right decision.
Buyers need proof too
This is especially important when dealing with buyers of variable data printing and similar solutions.  These buyers are often being presented with a new way of thinking in terms of how print is leveraged.  They are also being asked to change the way in which their print is produced.
As a result, they potentially have to commit more time and resources to larger and more complicated projects.  They are also being asked to increase the unit cost of their print, sometimes substantially.
To make a purchasing decision like this requires evidence of the outcome.  The best way to provide this is in the form of a case study.
What is a case study?
A case study is an example of a project that has been carried out using a similar process.  It shows a buyer what can be achieved using the same print solution.
Preferably, the case study is of a project that has been carried out by your company.  But it is possible to use a case study from another company to illustrate an opportunity.
The case study is set out in the form of a report.  It gives the key details of the campaign, the technology used and, most importantly, the results.
Here’s an example of a case study. Notice the headline: 51% response rate makes 1:1 cross-media campaign shine – and generates new business. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?
Why is a case study important?
A case study is a vital part of a print sales person’s toolkit if they are selling these types of print solutions.  This is because it is an opportunity for the buyer to understand how your offering works in the real world. It serves as a point of reference.
Without one, the buyer is forced to rely upon the assurances of the sales person.  No matter how good your relationship with the buyer is, this is rarely enough to make the sale.  The buyer will need more proof before committing to a new and more expensive solution. They will want to be as sure as possible that they will improve the return on their investment.
What do you put in a case study?
I will cover what you should include in a case study in my next article.  In the meantime, if you want to start creating your own case studies, here is an action point for you.
Start thinking about your current clients.  What projects have you carried out with them that would make a good case study?  If you highlight some suitable projects, start talking to these clients.  You will want to ask their permission to use their project as a case study.  It is also important to understand the results of the project.
It’s time to start laying the foundations for your case study: you don’t want your sales presentation to be dismissed in court by the buyer. 
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on how to effectively sell Variable Data Printing:

Matthew Parker has been buying print for over 20 years. He’s had over 1,400 sales pitches from printers. Now he’s using that experience to help printing companies engage with their customers and sell print more profitably.  Find out more about Matthew on his site. Download his e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them” for free here

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