Case studies are truly a great asset for your business. 73% of B2B buyers use them to make a purchasing decision. (DemandGen Report – 2016 Content Preferences Survey) They are an excellent asset that can influence a potential client's decision to choose you, as the business they use to solve the problem they’re experiencing.
We suggest using case studies on your website, sharing on your blog, and using them in your proposals.
Case studies highlight your success stories. They give you an easy way to feature:
- Amazing results
- Unexpected positive outcomes
- Clients that were working with a competitor and came to you to get a better result
- Big brand names you’ve successfully worked with
Your case study should read like a good story, so that it’s interesting. So, let’s take a little walk back to your grade school English class…and here you thought you would never use it again!
So here’s what you need to outline before you start:
- A protagonist - The business that has a problem
- An antagonist - the big bad problem and the issues it’s causing
- The hero - you
- The climax - where everything comes to a head and you make it all better for them (like a great hero should!)
- The happily ever after ending - all the benefits your client is now receiving because they worked with you
Before you start, interview your client to get some great quotes you can use in the case study to personalize it, and really bring into to focus the havoc the problem was wreaking in their personal life and/or their business. For example:
“It was an absolutely heartbreaking situation for me and my family. My great-grandfather started the business and passed it down. My father expanded it into two more stores. Then the recession hit. We had to pull back. We couldn’t make ends meet, and that forced us to close those two stores, and we were barely hanging on to the very first one my great-grandfather opened.”
That quote really shows the turmoil in the business from the owner's perspective. It creates a connection with the reader, and makes them want to read more to find out what happens. When they connect with the story, they can imagine themselves in that business’s shoes, which is exactly what you want, because the more they can can feel the pain, the happier they will be when they reach the solution you provide; and the more likely they will be to think if you as their provider/hero, as well.
Now, onto the actual format of the case study. The cool thing is that you really can take it any direction you want. You can have a series of questions that act as sub-headings and you provide the answers. You can create a theme, detective style: The Crime; The Evidence; Justice Served. Or you can have a more formal style which I will outline for you below.
First up is an engaging title. It has to be something interesting enough to get people to click, and take the time to read. 80% of the time people never make it past the title, so you have to make it compelling enough to engage the curiosity and get them to click.
You might want to wait until you finish the case study to write your title. Be prepared to spend almost as much time on it, as you do writing the body of the case study. The title needs to directly correlate with what’s inside. This is not the time to be creative or illusive. Be direct.
Here are a few examples of appropriate titles:
Brand X Boosted sales 100% by Using this _______
How _____ Saved a Local Business
How _____ Helped My Business Grow _____%
The Client: Highlight who the client is, what they do, how long they’ve been in business, and what makes their business unique.
The Challenge/Problem: Talk about the things that were failing in the business because of the problem, the issues those failures were causing for the business, and the goals they wanted to achieve by solving the problem.
Also, cover any ways the client tried to solve the solution for themselves, or other options they chose that didn’t work. Use quotes from the client to set the story up, and create an emotional connection with the reader. (This is where the reader will really start to empathize with the protagonist.)
The Solution: This where where you get to shine, in the climax of the story, as the hero! Talk about how the client found you, and how the solution you provided led to their ultimate success.
The Implementation: Share the steps you took to get the company on the road to success. Be sure to include any obstacles you encountered putting your solution in place, and how you overcame any of those issues. This helps to make it a lot more real for the reader, it shows your honesty and transparency, and sets up your overall expertise.
The Results: It’s happily ever after time! Zero in on the amazing results your solution provided for the client. Use statistics, visual aids like charts and graphs, and add in quotes from the client to back it all up, giving a personalized perspective.
Call to Action: At the end of your case study, (and pretty much everything your write) be sure to tell the reader what you want them to do next. Be specific. Do you want them to call for a consultation, email you for more information, or sign up for a free audit? Include all the contact information for your company: contact person, website, email, and phone number.
Remember, as a courtesy to your client, be sure to let them read the case study before you publish it.
Case studies are a great way to increase your leads. If writing isn’t your forte, consider hiring a professional to write your case studies for you. You want to make sure the first time your potential client sees you that the first impression is an excellent one! It will be well worth the investment.
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