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7 keys to compelling case studies

October 2nd, 2012 · 6 Comments · Content Marketing, Marketing, Storytelling, Uncategorized

Why do case studies work so well?

It’s simple really. Everyone loves a good story. And there’s a reason why Aesop and others opted to teach their life lessons through stories that have been told and re-told for many years.

Smart parents know this trick too. They teach lessons to their children through stories of their own foibles, tough lessons and triumphs.

This same technique can deliver incredible results when it comes to your marketing as well. There are lots of different ways to use stories in your marketing efforts but one of the most compelling is through good case studies.

Case Studies are the marketing version of Aesop’s Fables. Stories told to make a point or teach a lesson that demonstrates the value of your product or service.

So how do you create a good case study? These tips will get you well on your way.

Case Study Tip #1:  Structure it like a story. Make sure there’s a logical flow.  Explain the problem (identify the villain).  Introduce your company/product (bring in the hero). Describe how the challenge was overcome (tell of the battle). Sum it up (give it a happy ending).

Case Study Tip #2: Include lots of details. Don’t just say, “We were losing customers.” Give specifics. Our sales were down over 42%. Just like a good fable, the details make it work. So be sure to talk about your initial goals, the exact steps you took, any pitfalls you ran into along the way, and of course, the results.

Case Study Tip #3: Use quotes to give your case study its authenticity. Be careful not to dumb them down so they sound generic. Or even worse, don’t clean them up so they don’t sound authentic. Remember, we all tend to write more formally than we speak. So the minute you edit their comments – odds are you’re adding formality. Use real people, real names and when possible, real pictures.

Case Study Tip #4: Don’t get stuck in a rut with your case studies. Most people present a case study in writing, on a plain 8.5” x 11” piece of paper. But you can approach it in a variety of ways. How about a video case study? Or an infographic case study? Have you thought about journaling through a challenge and letting the entire journal be your case study?

Case Study Tip #5: Let your customers do the talking. Your voice can outline the problem and tactics you took to attack the problem. But when possible, use your client’s voice to celebrate the successes and to talk about the outcomes, both long and short-term.

Case Study Tip #6: Visuals are key. Before and after shots, growth charts, photographs of the results and infographics are all really powerful ways to help your audience really capture the value of your case study’s outcome.

Case Study Tip #7: Make sure everyone signs off on it before it goes public. The power of a case study is that it reveals an actual problem and its solution. Some businesses may be reticent to air their dirty laundry. Before you pitch your case study to a reporter or post it on your website, get everyone’s blessing.

Case studies are incredibly compelling when done right.  If you’re lucky, you’ll tell a story that people will tell over and over.

What’s the best case study you’ve ever seen?  What made it so memorable?

 

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