How to Create a Successful Case Study for Variable Data Printing

Written by Matthew Parker
Print Industry Consultant

Imagine visiting a gourmet restaurant expecting a delicious meal. How would you feel if they suddenly served up a plate of beans on toast?
Most people would feel disappointed to say the least. They would certainly be likely to avoid using the restaurant again in the future. And you can be assured they will not be recommending it to friends!
It’s easy to create the same feeling of disappointment when selling variable data print
I’ve often been promised case studies from suppliers that will convince me of why I should spend more on variable data print, and how their services are different than the competition. But more often than not, they leave me feeling exactly as the gourmet restaurant who serves a plate of disappointment.
The reason for this is simple. The case studies don’t contain the right information to convince me to go ahead and commit to the service. To avoid this problem, here are three things you must include in a case study.
1. Make sure your case study has market relevance
Customers always believe that audience behaviour in their sector is different. In many cases, they are absolutely right. There may be big difference between their audience demographics and those of your other clients.
Therefore, it is important to try and present a case study in as close a market sector to your prospect as possible. Assuming that the prospect’s audience will act just like everybody else is not advisable in the world of variable data print.
However, it is not just sector relevance that is important for variable data print.  Here’s the next thing you should remember when creating case studies:
2. Use simple language
Case studies often use a lot of technical language. They also talk a lot about the technology used. Many of your prospects will be new to much of what can be done with variable data printing. You risk scaring them away from commissioning a project if you are too technical with them.
It is much better to focus on the outcomes of using variable data strategies. If the client wants to know more about your workflows, they will ask.
There is one subject clients will certainly want to know more about:
3. Provide detailed measurements of Return on Investment
This is the key part of any case study. It is essential to talk about the results of the campaign in detail. I will talk more about how to measure campaigns in my next piece.
It is good to compare the results of your case study with other campaigns. This helps a prospect understand the level of uplift they may expect as a result of using the strategies that you recommend. If possible, the comparison campaign should have a similar text and offer. This means a true like-for-like comparison is achieved.
However, it can be difficult to offer a case study that matches all these criteria.
What happens if you don’t have a suitable case study?
Sometimes it can be hard to find the right case study. You may come across instances where clients are reluctant to share results, particularly if they feel it may give away their secret sauce or a competitive advantage.
One solution is to use a 3rd party case study to illustrate a concept or idea…even if the campaign wasn’t  produced by your company. Xerox has an excellent library of case studies, sortable by industry and vertical. Another resource is PODi, which offers case studies free to members. If you have not yet produced the right level of campaign for one of your clients, you may find what you need with these resources.
However, you would be well advised to start creating your own library of case studies. After all, you don’t want your prospects to feel as though they have been served a plate of beans in a gourmet restaurant.
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

Related Posts