Using PR and case studies for third party validationA common error I see companies make in the B2B world is trying to attract customers by presenting a litany of product features and specifications, assuming the potential customer will recognize the benefits and see how they apply to their unique circumstance. The approach is to tell what the product or service does better or faster than their last release. Or how much better it performs than the competitors’ version of the solution.

What’s lacking is the voice of customers explaining how the product or service addressed their pain points and solved their company’s problems. When a reference-able customer is willing to go on the record and explain how the product improves quality, reduces costs or somehow improves its business processes in a quantifiable metric, people take notice. Other companies recognize the same challenges in the marketplace and have a greater appreciation for the benefit that the solution provides.

It’s critical for a company to listen to the voice of the customer when determining priorities for developing new products, but that’s not the only way to leverage a mutually beneficial relationship with a satisfied customer. A customer testimonial is a much more convincing validation of the product than merely stating the claims, as proven in the bestselling marketing book, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR.

Any neutral observer will place far greater value on a customer offering his or her real-world example of how the company overcame a challenge or improved a process. It’s much more impressive than a company spokesperson giving the tired “Ain’t it great?” message with a litany of features and benefits. Recall a previous Markit Strategies’ blog post from Barbara Longley MacGregor shared the importance of striking customer gold with case studies. Case studies are just one way a client can share a customer success story.

What’s important to convey is not what your product or service does, it’s how the customer will benefit from the investment. And that message is often best told by someone who has experienced the results, not a company spokesperson.