Case studies are hugely popular amongst B2B and Tech customers.
Several years ago a study was conducted by MarketingSherpa and KnowledgeStorm which found that 67% of technology buyers read case studies to inform their buying decisions. That’s second only to white papers, which came in at 71%.
Not only that, case studies also have a great pass-through rate: 47% of technology professionals admitted to passing along case studies to their colleagues.
What other marketing strategy can boast stats like that?
What is a Case Study?
In basic terms a case study is a success story. It describes a problem faced by a business, and how you helped them to overcome that problem. These success stories typically include the following elements:
- Customer background and who they are
- Why the customer needed your solution
- How they picked you as their vendor
- The customer’s experience of your solution
- Benefits to the customer and overall results
This is a “before and after” story that pitches your company as the hero who comes along to save the day.
Case studies vary in length from a few paragraphs up to three or four pages, but generally fall into the range of one to two pages or 800-1200 words. There are also two primary formats that a case study can take:
The Traditional Format – This follows what’s known as a traditional story sequence:
- The Customer’s Background
- The Challenge
- The Solution
- The Results
Of course there are other aspects required to make an engaging story, such as a description of the ‘Journey’ and product implementation, but the bullets above mark the basic structure of a traditional case study. Other commonly included elements are a ‘sidebar’ including key summary points (often bullets), and a few pull-out quotes from the customer to add authenticity.
The Feature Article – This case study is similar to the Traditional Format, but also includes aspects of a ‘magazine article’ style approach. Rather than opening with some basic info about the customer, Feature Articles utilise a more engaging ‘lead’ which sells the story upfront and grabs the reader’s interest early on. This format also typically requires more intriguing subheadings.
The choice of format will usually come down to the intended audience – If a case study is designed to convince potential B2B prospects to procure your services, the Traditional Format is usually best. If, however, you’re hoping that your case study will bring you some much-desired media attention, you’re far more likely to have success with a Feature Article.
Why Use a Case Study?
Case studies can be used for a wide variety of purposes, but the big three are:
Building Credibility – Few things will build your credibility faster than a few solid case studies. Even for B2B customers there is a strong emotional element to any purchasing decision, and nothing helps a customer to feel good about a purchase like the knowledge that other people have already bought, used and benefited from your product or service.
Validating Sales Claims – This is perhaps the most common use for case studies, and it’s done in a number of different ways. The goal here is to use the case study as proof of your ability to deliver on the promises you’ve made in marketing materials. Perhaps you include a case study as part of a white paper, or submit several as appendices to a tender submission. You might scatter some throughout the product and service pages on your website. You might even utilise a case study as part of a lead generation campaign.
In fact there are dozens of ways to use case studies to validate or prove your sales claims, but the important point is this: Your customers probably won’t take your word as gospel. If, however, you can show them you already have a catalogue of satisfied customers, you’ll be a long way towards convincing them.
Media Coverage – Business and trade media such as magazines and blogs are some of the few remaining expert sources that prospects trust. If you read through relevant trade publications, you’re going to see dozens of success stories of companies overcoming their problems using certain products, methods and suppliers.
If you want some relevant media attention for your company, case studies are a great way to get it. People are naturally drawn to stories, and particularly to success stories that might help them to solve their own problems. Trade publications know this, so if you can provide them with a compelling success story, with a quality case study to back it up, you’ll have their attention.
What You Get
You’ll get a top quality case study, usually in the region of 800-1200 words.
But when you hire me to write a case study, you get more than just my writing abilities.
I conduct detailed interviews with you and your customer to ensure I’ve got everything I need to craft the perfect case study. Interviews are conducted via Skype or phone (your choice), and ideally interviews with your customers will be a 3-way process.
Turnaround times will typically be within 2 weeks for the first draft, and are dependent on availability of key staff for interviews. The price we agree will include up to 3 revisions, within the period of 30 days from submission of the first draft.
Keep in mind that you do need your customer’s permission in order to publish a case study which mentions them explicitly. It is possible to publish anonymous case studies, but it’s more credible if you can include names. With that in mind, please make sure that the desired star of your case study is willing to take part!
Usually my clients like to have their own designers format the case study.
If you’re interested in having me write a case study for you, or you have questions about how case studies could benefit you, please complete the form below. Alternatively, get in touch.
I’d love to hear from you, and I’d be very happy to discuss your particular needs and provide a quote.