Yesterday a colleague hung up the phone, spun around in her chair, and announced to me and fellow cubefarmers “My client wants a case study on a B2B company that increased its advertising spending during the recession and saw a measurable business benefit. And they want it by end of day.”
This is the excitement you don’t see on “Mad Men.”
Whenever I hear clients say “case studies,” I shiver from head to toe. The request my colleague received is too common, too misunderstood, and always unavailable. It’s a nonstarter, and a nonfinisher. Yet every time, we jump through hoops to find anything that comes close. The hours lost to otherwise productive ends can’t be measured.
Three major issues. First is the absence of truly good and meaningful case studies. There really is no certified, respectable organization that captures this stuff. Maybe other functions like engineering and R&D and software development have certification bodies, board standards and such, but not Marketing. All we have are academic journals, far removed from the trenches. Go see if you can find any copies of “Journal of International Marketing” lying around the office.
The absence of case studies doesn’t stop us, though. Who has the guts to tell a client “Forget it – there are no case studies to show you.” Instead, “end of day” incites a Pavlovian response: all elbows and a**holes from now until 6 PM.
And because we do that every time, we get issue #2: clients thinking that case studies exist.
There is a third major issue, which requires an all-out assault to put it to death – namely, clients thinking case studies are worth having.
Clients should build their own case studies. Hire a college intern to review every marketing program enacted over the past two years. Set up frameworks to measure every initiative going forward. Fire people if they don’t use the framework or report results. Measure everything. Every day.
Do that, and you will become a case study of your own – a marketer with enough data and confidence to make your own case for investment. Another case study that doesn’t exist today.