Thermal cameras used to be a cool gimmick in Predator movies. But today, they are all over the place. I had a chat with Fredrik Wallberg, Director of Marketing at thermal camera manufacturer FLIR Systems. We talked about application stories and how FLIR uses the power of storytelling to attract customers.
People use thermal cameras for all kinds of applications, ranging from plumbers looking for leaks, over firefighters finding their way through a smoke-filled room, to security cameras spotting intruders in pitch dark. This means that FLIR’s customers are mostly professional buyers and government agencies. Storytelling through case studies is an ideal way to reach that audience, says Fredrik Wallberg.
Sales support tools
To Fredrik, content marketing in general and case studies in particular are far more valuable to a professional buyer or decision maker.
“As a marketing department, it is our job to create meaningful sales support tools for our sales team. First of all, we focus on lead generation: filling the top of the funnel with as many leads as possible. But our sales support deliverables are just as valuable, ranging from PowerPoint slides, over trade show support, to what we like to call ‘application notes’.”
“Thermal imaging has many different applications. Highlighting how the technology can be used and how FLIR has managed to solve a problem is very powerful, especially when you have solved that problem so well that the customer is happy enough to talk about it.”
Marketing with case studies
Creating case studies is one thing. Using case studies in your marketing is something else. What is FLIR’s strategy here?
“Depending on how you approach a customer, a case study can fit almost anywhere in the sales cycle. It can work as an introduction to a prospect, as an example of how you solved a problem before. But we also use case studies as supporting material for tenders. Sometimes, it is actually required to include a certain amount of application stories about similar installations in your tender.”
“Sometimes, it is actually required to include a certain amount of application stories in your tender.”
FLIR uses LinkedIn Sales Navigator, a business development tool that makes it easier to reach out directly to the end user. More than just asking someone to connect on LinkedIn, FLIR uses LinkedIn Sales Navigator to offer value to customers and prospects. “When we detect someone who is interested in FLIR, we can send them a relevant piece of content, which is where our application stories come in.”
FLIR also has a large presence on social media platforms. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram… all places where the company likes to promote its application stories. In addition, paid search allows FLIR to present application stories to those who are interested in the brand.
Case study strategy
Does FLIR have a wish list of case study candidates? What is the strategy for going after case study projects?
There are two main criteria for FLIR, says Fredrik. First of all, working with a well-known customer can put your company in the spotlight. If you align yourself with a large, well-known brand, then this generates trust by association.
"Working with a well-known brand generates trust by association.
But the company also goes after stories that are unique in one way or another. “FLIR works with a lot of smaller companies that have unique needs. A case study is an ideal way to demonstrate that we were able to fulfill that need.”
Dealing with customers
Creating case studies is not always a smooth process. One of the biggest hurdles is the approval process.
“Working together with large organizations or cities often requires several layers of approval. It might just be that you have gone through 90% of the approval process successfully, only to get stuck with the remaining 10%. This might be the legal department or someone in management who feels it is not opportune to cooperate, especially for privacy and security reasons.”
“Many of our customers are government agencies. These organizations are not always willing or able to endorse companies that they are working with. However, an application story does not necessarily have to be an endorsement, but rather a demonstration of a technology. It’s a fine line, one that can make the approval process more difficult.”
Case studies are a win-win-win
Fedrik likes to add that, if done correctly, case studies are a win for everyone who is involved in the project. “It makes FLIR shine as a manufacturer, but that’s also the case for the people who install our technology and for the end user. For example, an end user might want to be seen as a proactive company that uses the latest technology. If put together correctly, a case study makes everyone look good.”
Case study tips from Fredrik Wallberg
Get customer approval first.
Work with the person closest to your customer.
Outsource case study writing.
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