Case studies are a great way to display some of your work. You can even leverage your most well-known and respected clients or customers to make case studies even more impressive. This will help any prospective clients or customers know that you do a good job.
Along with case studies, there are multiple ways to demonstrate your great work to prospective customers.
If you are a B2B business, you can show your prominent clients’ logos on your homepage, on your product or services pages or in your footer.
If you are a B2C business, you can include photos and testimonials from your customers or fans in a similar way.
Do not underestimate the effect that your current customers or clients can have on your prospective customers. Often, when we’re considering a purchase, we look for affirmation from others – the more respected, the better, but don’t forget that you’ll need to match your customer too. If your customer is local business, you don’t want your clients list to make them feel that you’re too ‘big’ for them.
For any businesses, case studies can make a crucial difference. Leveraging the power or your respected clients as well as being able to communicate your credibility and demonstrate your ability is a hugely effective way to convince new clients of your worth.
Why Create a Case Study?
Anyone can tell someone they’re great. You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that I could run 100m in sub-10 seconds. What would it take for you to believe me? Evidence.
This is exactly what case studies can do. They are a great tool for you to use to provide evidence to your prospective customers in an easy to read format.
How to Write a Case Study
Define the purpose of your case study
Before concerning yourself with who you want to appear in your case study and what you want it to look like, think about what you want from it.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What services or product do I want to promote?
You might have had great success in one side of your business but for many reasons you might not be interested in developing business in that area. You would better spend your time working to promote the priority areas of your business.
- What do I want my customer/client to think or do after reading this?
Why are you creating this case study? If you define the purpose of the case study and refer to it during the process of creating it, you should end up with a useful marketing tool that will help you achieve your goals.
- How am I going to use this case study?
This is important for the format you’re going to create it in. If you’re planning to feature a case study on your website, why immediately reach for MS Word and create a PDF? You’d be better off to create a case study to feature on a page of your website. This will also help you define the assets you need.
Find your participants
Once you have an idea of the product you want to promote, the purpose of your case study and the format it’s going to be in, you can start identifying candidates.
You want to find someone who:
- Is a client or customer of your target service or product
It’s essential that you stick with the aims you set out at the beginning of the process
- Has had great results
Of course, great results are going to look positive to a prospective customer
- Is a respected individual or someone from an industry leading company
A recognisable face will add credibility
- Faced a particularly difficult problem that against the odds you still brought success to
A case study like this can reassure customers with more complex problems. Sure you can pull of great results for a high-profile client with a huge budget but what about a small local business with a small budget?
- Is easy to work with, timely and easy to get hold of
This might sound fickle, but if you’re going to put together resources, you need someone who is going to provide quotes, images and sign off the case study when it’s done. The last think you want is to wait a couple of weeks between each stage because you can’t get hold of your participant.
Contacting your prospective participants
OK, we’re getting there. Now you need to reach out to your participants. This will set the tone for the rest of your communication, so it’s important to get it right from the beginning.
You’ve got your shortlist of participants. Reach out to them in the way they are used to.
If your sales team usually handles client relationships, ask the sales team how you would usually get in touch and communicate with them. If I suddenly get lots of calls when I would usually expect emails or vice versa, you’ll already be beginning to annoy me.
Get in touch and say you’re delighted with their results (it helps if you have recent compliments from them) and would love to feature them as a success story.
If they agree, then you need to set out the process in a very simple but defined manner. You don’t want to overwhelm them but you want to set their expectations.
I would suggest setting out the following:
- Giving a case study release form
This should be signed to give you official permission. You don’t want to create a case study and then find out that your contact didn’t have the authority to allow you to do so.
- Give some basic timings
If you make it clear when you will give them content to sign off and when you expect it back, you can overcome any timing issues before you come to it
Putting together the Case Study
The way you do this will depend on your business and what you’re trying to show. You may want to use a questionnaire and phone interview but you might want to use results, facts or figures from previous reports.
If you know the figures involved, you will be better off to use them and ask your participant to sign it off than to prize the information out of them. If you’re not offering compensation, then I would do the legwork where possible. The last thing you want is for your client to feel like this is a burden.
Case Study Template
Here is a simple template to use for your case study. It is a simple format but it will help you add context, select the right information and ask your participants the right questions.
Title: Get your title right
Make sure you not only reflect the success of the story but entice others to read more about it. The title should be clear, avoid anything ambiguous. You want to demonstrate the benefits – after all, some prospective clients might not read the whole thing.
Profile: Details of your participant
You’ll want a sort snippet about your participant. Their name, photo, organisation and a brief sentence explaining what the company does.
The Challenge: What did you want to achieve? What was the problem?
Set out what the aim was. Were there goals to meet? If so, state what they were.
Set out the problem. What were you trying to solve? What situation was your client in when they sought your help?
The Solution: What did you do?
Add details of what you did. How did you come to the solution? What was the process? How long did it take?
The Result: Add facts and figures
What were the results of your work? This is where you need to show your impressive stats!
Use some impressive headline figures if you have them. Stats like ‘100% increase in sales’ or ‘35% reduction in cost’ are easy to digest and paint a great picture.
Quotes from your customer will help bring your case study to life. Hearing directly from them will speak directly to your prospective customers. It’s important to get this from your client. Do not make these quotes up yourself – it will look and feel fake. Even if you get it signed off by your client, using their own language will make it much more authentic.