Case Studies, White Papers and Webcasts

Case studies, white papers and webcasts are three essential content formats to create awareness, enable small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to research your offerings, drive thought leadership and capture leads. But where do they work best in the sales cycle, how important are they to SMBs, what do SMBs most want from them, what product categories do they work best in, how long should they be, and how do SMBs access them?

To answer these questions – and to help you develop more effective content for SMBs – we recently surveyed 318 U.S. SMB principals. The results are instructive; there are some great learnings on how to develop and promote these important content elements.

Case study preference varies by industry

SMBs seek out case studies most when assessing technology – specifically cellphones; hardware like printers, PCs and servers; and local tech solution providers. They seek them least from payroll services, package delivery companies and social media companies.

“Static” still rules

Almost nine in ten SMBs prefer “static” (i.e. print, PDF or HTML)-format case studies to video. Brevity rules too; 81% prefer case studies to be just one or two pages (and 75% prefer videos to be three minutes or less). SMBs like case studies to be easy to understand, focused on a company in their industry, and specific about results the company achieved.

White papers: Not just for tech

SMBs prefer white papers most from banks, followed by technology (hardware) and insurance providers. They seek them least from the travel industry (i.e. airlines, hotels and rental car companies), social media providers and package delivery companies.

Less is more

75% of SMBs prefer white papers to be three or fewer pages, so avoid the temptation to throw in everything there is to know about your product. Make it industry-specific, though; after being “well designed and easy to read,” the most important attribute of a white paper is that “it is relevant to companies in my industry.”


SMBs want webcasts most from local technology solution providers, marketing services companies, cellphone companies and Internet access providers / website hosts. They are most likely to learn about them via your site or email newsletter, or via search.

Brevity is the soul of webcasts

Probably like you, SMBs like their webcasts short. Two in three (67%) of SMBs prefer webcasts to be no more than 15 minutes.

About Stu Richards

Stu is responsible for setting Bredin strategy, as well as day-to-day management of company operations including marketing and business development, partnerships and alliances, product development, finance, operations and HR. A frequent speaker on marketing to SMBs, Stu has more than a decade of technology sales and brand marketing experience at IBM and Nabisco Brands. Stu holds an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College.