Case studies aren’t easy. They take cooperation and collaboration between your clients and your team to create a story that pulls in your ideal leads and offers valuable insight.
Even after all that work, case studies can still be a hit or miss. When done well, they have the potential to be the reassuring nudge your prospects need to move forward with your service or product. But when they’re…less than successful, it can feel like a poor use of time, energy and resources.
So, what steps can you take to build a compelling case study (that people want to read)? Let’s take a closer look.
Define Your Case Study’s Goal
If you don’t start building your case study with a specific goal, you’re not setting yourself up for success. The point of a case study is not just to highlight a positive experience (that will shine through anyway!) It’s intended to break down a specific situation where your team made a significant impact.
Start by asking yourself: what do I want to demonstrate to future clients with this case study? For example, you may be interested in communicating your company’s skill in creating customized products based on a client’s needs.
*Extra Credit: If there are special offers or new services you’re interested in advertising, case studies are a great way to show off your success in these areas.
Once you answer that question, you can further define your study’s goal:
□ Specify your intended audience: Is the client you’re writing about the ideal client you’re looking to attract? Define those preferred characteristics so you can target them in your study.
□ Tailor your study to their pain points: Your ideal client is likely having the same issues as your case study client. What are they, and why did they choose your services? Detail those pain points (for example, decreased warehouse productivity, unreliable data voice connections, insurance struggles) and how you solved their problem.
□ Refine your “elevator pitch:” A successful case study needs to be clear up top about your client’s problem, the solution you provided and the (successful) outcome. If you can’t quickly articulate this message at the beginning, your audience will lose interest.
Now, let’s move on to reaching out to your case study client.
We have your goal – great! Now, there are ideally a couple of clients you could choose from to highlight your team’s prowess. As you’re deciding, remember that there’s more to picking a case study than choosing a well-known name or the client you made the most money for. We suggest selecting projects where your team had the most significant, positive influence on a client’s success.
So, let’s say you have a project in mind you’d like to spotlight in a case study:
□ Specify your impact: Impact can translate to a variety of results: generating more leads, creating more efficient cybersecurity measures, performing a total design makeover, or, yes, increasing profit margins.
□ Define where you shined: What makes your performance in this project extra special? Did your team demonstrate exceptional expertise? Did your out-of-the-box thinking give your client an edge? Were your strategies incredibly effective?
□ Consider relatability: A successful case study covers a topic where your ideal client can self-identify with the content. If the challenges resonate with their experience, there’s a higher chance that they’ll continue reading to see how your team could make a difference in their situation.
Choosing The Right Questions
Here’s an area that can be trickier if you’re not prepared. It’s not your client’s responsibility to create a story for your case study. So, if you walk out of an interview without the material you need to build an in-depth analysis… it’s time to re-evaluate your process and questions.
To avoid that, come prepared with solid, personalized questions from the beginning:
□ Ask the right questions:
Before looking for our services, what approach were you relying on to combat your challenges?
What finally caused you to search for the services/products we provide?
What made you decide to choose us over competitors?
Can you provide metrics that speak to our impact on your business? (You may have some, but clients could provide additional information you may not be able to access.)
Do you feel our team helped you achieve your goals?
How was your overall experience working with our team? (Did you feel supported throughout the process? Was there consistent communication?)
Would you choose to work with us again or recommend us to a colleague? (This may not be something you include in your case study, but it’s good feedback.)
Is there anything we could have done differently to improve your experience? (Definitely, a question intended only for feedback.)
Your clients are busy. You don’t want to keep coming back to them with additional questions, so it’s best to get it right the first time.
Finish with Flair
Now comes the fun part! Once you have all the assets and angles you need for a successful case study – it’s time to put those pieces together.
□ Outline the facts: It’s helpful to create an outline for yourself that hits the major points:
Start with your elevator pitch
Explain who the company is and their challenges
Describe the strategy you put together to overcome those challenges
Detail the solutions you put into action
Show the impact through metrics and client quotes
We know choosing a title can be tricky. It may be easier to get the study on paper first. Then you can go back and pick a title that best fits your content.
□ Tell a story: Yes, it’s essential to stick to the facts. But once you have your major points, you can start telling a relatable story about the experience. Remember, avoid industry jargon!
□ Short and sweet: Once that story’s on the page, find the places where you can tighten it up, hitting the key points succinctly. If you waxed a little too poetic telling your original story, here’s where you can edit it down.
*Extra Credit: Don’t forget to include some eye-catching images or helpful graphs!
□ Position yourself as the expert: Say your ideal client is reading your case study. They may not be ready to commit to your services just yet. But a detailed, convincing analysis showing your successful proven process is a great way to get your name in their mind. Position yourself as the industry expert by proving how your team’s skills, past experiences and creative thinking led to a positive result for your client. This will help build credibility and trust in your services.
Don’t Have Time?
As you can see from the steps above, putting together a successful case study takes a good deal of time, from start to finish.