When marketing your products or services, don't neglect case studies and their basic ingredients, which give potential customers or clients feedback on the benefit of learning from someone else's experiences.
Potential customers won't rely just on your say-so that your products or services are terrific. They want to hear what people have to say, both in informal reviews and in more dynamic case studies. A case study endorses the product and illustrates value and potential in a different way than your press releases, white papers and blog posts can do. In this format, the case study tells a story, much like a newspaper feature story, with a narrative that personalizes your company and what it offers.
One of the best benefits of a case study is that it can show a problem and outline a solution through explaining how your product helped a customer with a need of relevance to readers who can identify with the experiences profiled. A case study can also:
- Simplify complex subjects so your prospects can better understand them.
- Become part of your marketing funnel to draw customers further down the funnel.
- Humanize your company so prospects can see it as a business they can respect and trust.
Here are some tips for writing a case study that will win attention and attract prospects:
1. Study the Case
Study the case thoroughly, reading it multiple times before choosing who to interview. Compile the relevant facts and familiarize yourself with them.
2. Interview the Right Customer
When planning a case study, choose an intelligent, articulate customer to interview whose experience with your product or service best illustrates its value and relevance for potential future customers. Ideally, one person should be the contact for the interview, even when discussing a group experience, to assure streamlined, easily understandable results.
3. Produce the Case Study Quickly
Case studies aren't necessarily evergreen. The stories they share and the solutions they outline may no longer be relevant in a year or so amid changes and advances. A quick turnaround — between a day and a week, depending on complexity and scheduling — provides a timely story with wide appeal.
4. Use Actual Quotes
Don't clean up what the customer says. If it isn't quotable, paraphrase it or simply don't use it.
5. Be Compelling Yet Concise
Strive to stay between 400 and 750 words to avoid losing the reader. Bullet points can help shorten text where necessary. Write an outline to stay on track.
6. Utilize Solid Structure
Construct your case study well, using a basic, tried-and-true formula that begins with an introduction, ends with a conclusion, and weaves a compelling story in the middle, while leaving room for creativity. The introduction should contain background information about the customer being highlighted and the issues that were addressed by the product. In the middle, your case study should show the steps taken to solve the issues. The conclusion should outline the benefits experienced by the customer.
7. Remember Your Audience
When writing, remember the people you're trying to reach. Tailor your interview questions and your message to address your ideal prospects and their concerns, perspectives and areas of interest.
8. Write Eye-Catching Headlines
Compelling headlines command attention and cause people to keep reading. For example, “How Social Media Helped Cisco Shave $100,000+ Off a Product Launch” tells a story right off the bat. That case study, published in 2010 by Social Media Examiner, traces the spectacular launch of a new Cisco router publicized solely through social media, which saved the networking giant six figures, saved 42,000 gallons of gas, and earned Cisco a Leading Lights award for Best Marketing.
9. Publicize Your Case Study
Case studies shouldn't be dry, boring documents that reside deep within your website. Rather, they should be vibrant, newsy testimonials that show up on your home page, in your company newsletter and email list, and on all your social media sites to give prospects the opportunity to learn about real-world experiences. Write a press release as well to announce the publication of the case study.
10. Be Prolific
Write numerous case studies to reflect your well-established products and services, as well as those you'd like to highlight because they are new or updated.