A well-written, well structured case study is an excellent and cost-effective way to showcase your organisation’s capabilities, and ultimately encourage more customers to buy your products and services. Case studies can be used in a number of ways to promote your business, from gaining free publicity in relevant publications, to adding a fresh look to your company’s home page. But what are the important elements of a good case study?
A case study is essentially a real-life success story about your products and services. It should set out a specific business problem and then show how your organisation has helped to solve it, before focussing on the benefits that you can bring to your clients. It’s a way of showing how your organisation can respond to issues and problems as they happen, and help your customers to operate more effectively and more productively.
Style versus Substance
The secret to a successful case study is how it’s written. Plain, simple language is crucial if the case study is to be credible and accessible to readers. It should avoid jargon and the ‘hard sell’ associated with other forms of marketing, such as advertorials.
A subtle, unbiased approach is best, with a story that puts the primary focus on the your customer, while also referencing your products and services and the role they have played in finding a solution to the problem.
Quote Your Client
Quoting a client helps make the benefits you are delivering much more believable. You should also explain the mutual benefits of the case study to your client and how the publicity will be free, and that perhaps they could also use it as marketing collateral.
Giving specific details of a project is a good way to hold the reader’s attention but at the same time it is important not to give away everything in a case study, particularly when dealing with a technical solution that could possibly be copied by a competitor, or self- implemented by a potential client.
Keeping it Interesting
However, the flip side of this is that a banal, boring case study, with little detail, will simple turn the reader off. To make a case study come live, add relevant context such as the feelings and frustrations your client had before they benefited from your solution. Good photography will also lift case studies above the crowd
Planning, writing and disseminating a case study takes time but because the finished product has multiple uses, it is an extremely effective way of marketing your business. A good case study can be:
- Sent to local newspapers and relevant trade and B2B publications
- Used as part of an email newsletter
- Disseminated across the company – it could make part of a future presentation
- Used to add fresh news to your website
- Reformatted and abridged and then sent out as a press release, leading to even wider valuable media coverage.
A case study can also inspire your staff who, after all, are ambassadors for your business. If they can see exactly how their efforts are helping clients, then they are more likely to ‘spread the word’ about the business.
DIY or Professional?
You will need to decide whether you have the in-house capability to research and write the case study, or whether you should contract a professional writer to produce it.
The first option may be cheaper but could prove a false economy, especially given the many potential uses of the case study. There is also the issue that a badly written case study could actually harm your credibility, both with potential customers and the media.
The owner/manager is perhaps better employed suggesting potential stories rather writing them. You know your business better than anyone, you know its strengths and you know the stories that are most likely to turn readers into customers.
To help with this process, use a simple pro forma (link) to record the key facts of a potential case study, from basic contact details to specific points you wish to make about how your business has helped solve a problem. This can then be passed on to the writer as a good starting point for their research. You can use our case study template to do this.
Case studies are a great way of demonstrating what you do well, generating leads and building brand awareness
Openness and a lack of bias are crucial – it should not sound like an advertorial
Consider whether the case study is best written in-house or by a professional writer
Always gain your client’s approval before issuing a case study
BBPN offer a full case study writing service. For further details contact the Author.