What is the first thing you do when you are deciding to buy a product or service?
Do you look online at product reviews, or turn to friends, colleges and family to see if they have tried it, and, if so, ask about their thoughts and whether they would recommend the product or not? People dislike poor service and quality when they are looking to invest and will more easily convert if there is a third party recommendation involved.
We have recently been through the process of developing case studies for our marketing collateral as we see them as an integral part of establishing proof that what we are offering is worth recommending.
Are your case studies helping to introduce and recommend you?
Case studies are a great way to promote your business, build your credibility and position your business as an expert. They introduce you to the potential customer from a third party. If done well, they show how your business operates and the results you can achieve.
What should case studies show?
A good case study explains how you apply your expertise in the real world to potential customers and lets them see how they can relate their problems to your solutions. It demonstrates what success they should see when working with you. They show:
- what problems you can solve
- how you diagnose the problems
- your ideas and solutions
- the strategy you implement
- how you react to setbacks
- how you build and manage your relationships
Case studies are a great tool to let potential customers see how you will solve their problem for them.
A good case study’s purpose is to engage potential customers; it is not where you stand on your soap box and boast about past work. It is this you must keep in mind when developing a case study. Think clearly about why you are writing them in the first place. It is a recommendation piece, not a sales pitch.
How to write a case study
First…write to your ideal customer! If a case study is to attract customers, then target your group.
Interview a customer about how your business has helped them. We develop a standard set of questions to help interview our clients. This way you achieve consistency across your stories and, therefore, your branding. Make sure the client always has final approval before you publish the case study.
Here are six tips to help you structure a great case study:
- Tell the story: Start with a brief introduction of work you did, highlighting the problem and outcome. The story should engage the reader to want to know more of the details. It is your elevator pitch for the story. It will determine if they read further – so if this is the only section of your case study they read – make it count.
- Setting the stage: Set up the case study by providing an introduction to its key characters — you and your client. Describing the relationship will help the potential client to imagine themselves in a similar situation with you.
- Outline the Problem: Provide details of the client’s problem and what your business did to solve it. This should clearly show your expertise, strategy and problem-solving skills.
- Show the Solution: What did you do? How did you do it? This is where you sell your products or services simply by saying which ones you used and how they led to the desired result. Make sure the results you give are real and, where possible, show tangible results. You shouldn’t just say “our sales and marketing services led to these results.” Instead, what you should say is “it was a combination of a six-month online strategy where we focused on LinkedIn, web page and email campaigns and six months of link building that led to an increase in rankings plus brand exposure that led to these results.”
- Deliver the Outcome: What were the results? Did you secure a new contract or increase sales? This is a great opportunity to use quotes from your customer interviews! Quoting your customer in their own words will make the case study both real and relatable to your ideal customer. It is also that direct recommendation piece your audience is looking for.
- Share the Results: Share the perceptions and voices of individual team members, and even your client. What worked? What didn’t? What would you do differently with more knowledge at the beginning? How will you use that knowledge in the future? Explain how the results solved the client’s problem.
Remember, a case study is a sales tool.
There is more than one way to use case studies to promote your business. Here is a list of digital platforms to may use in your promotion strategy.
- Blog interview
- Social media post. You could post the entire post or post a link and drive traffic back to your web page. If they allow it, tag the customer so they can share to their followers, too.
- On your website
- Speaking engagements. When speaking at an event about your business or your expertise, case studies are a great way to show your expertise in an area and develop new business opportunities
- A YouTube video: combine the case study with a personal testimonial from the client!
Case studies show potential customers how your business has achieved past results. This gives them practical examples of the results you can attain for them instead of just only being perceived as selling your credentials to them. A case study is your supporter in the room. It gives you third party credibility.
Remember, there is no point in having great case studies if no one can see them. Use case studies in your marketing material, new client meetings, on your website and social media.
Have you seen a great case study that helped influence your decision?
Related Article Links
- The Value Of Business Awards
- Are your customers getting the message
- Boosting Business Performance Through Sales Part 1- 6
- Are you all razzle dazzle
About the Author
Tim has vast experience in the strategic and financial management of businesses with a particular focus on cash flow and profit improvement, strategic thinking and performance reporting. He has extensive knowledge of business start-ups and acquisitions as well as exit and succession planning. Tim is an adviser with Supertrac, a corporate advisory firm specialising in business divestments, mergers and acquisitions.
Tim is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA), Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) with the Exit Planning Institute (EPI).
If you have any specific questions or would like to suggest future blog topics, please do not hesitate to contact Tim on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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