As a business leader, it’s important to help both existing and prospective clients to understand what you can do for them. And when it comes to providing that all-important evidence of ‘how’ you achieve results, sometimes describing your expertise is not enough.
Your clients are interested in learning about who you’ve worked with, how you’ve addressed their needs and what results you were able to achieve. This is where case studies become highly valuable. Here, we look at the key ingredients that should go into a well-written case study and how you can make practical use of them with both existing and potential clients.
Case studies are an essential marketing tool for many business owners and professionals. They add depth to your key marketing resources and offer valuable evidence that you deliver on your promises. They also help to demonstrate your business’ growth and development, which in turn helps to empower prospective clients to take the next step – which is to engage with you.
Alternatively, case studies can inspire existing customers to consider the case in context of their own situation to enquire about additional services you offer.
The key ingredients
Unfortunately, case studies have a reputation for being long-winded, high on technical detail and let’s call it as it is – dull!
In our experience, rather than worrying about whether it is too long or too short, readers will keep reading a case study if it is relevant and written in a style that’s interesting (or entertaining even if it is a disaster story) and moves along quickly.
In terms of the most important notes to hit when writing case studies, there are four elements that should always be present:
- Overview/ needs assessment
- Client assessment
Begin your case study with one or two paragraphs that explain the client’s background and their key needs. Describe your client while protecting their identity but making it clear that the subject of the case study could easily be the reader.
What do they do? Why do they need a particular service or product and what are the pros and cons of taking action or not taking action? Provide a brief rundown of their requirements in terms of timelines or goals they may have articulated at the beginning of the project.
This is your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the project and provide an overview of your strategic approach. If the assignment is complex, it’s best to identify the pressing one to three issues only, rather than get too caught up in details.
When choosing your case study, consider your purpose. An uncommon or niche case will interest fewer prospective clients, but those who do engage with it may be higher value clients with more complex needs. Whereas describing a case that involves more common and readily understood circumstances will likely be more relatable and garner broader interest. The key in this approach is to describe the case in context of the additional skills, value and extra or bonus outcomes achieved for the client as a result of your higher level of technical expertise and problem-solving.
In describing your process, it’s important to highlight the skillset and experience you have matched to the project requirements. Then outline the key tasks that were implemented to satisfy the needs of the client, as well as any additional recommendations you provided to enhance to the project. This could be in terms of profitability, environmental sustainability, longevity or any specific KPIs that are relevant to the client.
The client’s assessment comes in at the end of the case study and is essentially a testimonial. Rather than simply asking your client to write a testimonial from scratch, it is often useful to send them the almost-complete case study along with an outline of what you’d like their statement to include.
At Bold!, when we assist clients with case studies, we typically pose three questions to help elicit a testimonial from a third party:
- In your own words what were your main concerns/main requirements for this project?
- In your assessment, was the project completed to your satisfaction and how would you describe the skill and technical advice you received?
- Would you refer us to others?
Using your case study
Once you’ve finished writing your case study, it’s time to put it to work. Below are our tips for making the most of this key marketing resource:
- Publish it on your website – Make sure it is easy to find, so potential clients can read examples of your work as they browse your website to learn more about you.
- Bring it to meetings with prospective clients – Print it out as a leave-behind item, along with your business brochure and professional profile.
- Email it – make it the focal point of your next eDM or add it as a downloadable on your eDM template.
- Post it on social media – Case studies make excellent resources to share via social media, which helps to establish credibility for the business or the author as a leader in their field.
If you would like more advice on how to create and leverage your case studies and other key marketing resources, please contact us on 07 5477 0197 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn more.
At Bold! we specialise in helping professionals and business owners to use marketing to grow their businesses. Over the past 25 years we have fine-tuned what we call our ‘Do-able Marketing’ model. It is underpinned by a 7-Step Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) Marketing framework that overcomes the THREE key issues that professionals and business owners have told us commonly prevent them from marketing their businesses: Time, Affordability and Accountability.