In the business world, case studies are valuable marketing tools that can help attract new clients, investors, and partners. A business case study is an in-depth explanation of how a specific company helped a client or customer. Through a case study, a company showcases how its products or services helped a particular user. Customers or clients featured in a company case study can be other businesses (B2B) or individuals (B2C).
In many ways, a great case study mirrors the “hero’s journey” model that’s used to write award-winning books and films. They tell the story of your client (the hero) who struggles to overcome a problem until they find your business solution. Once they do, they ride off into the sunset and couldn’t be happier. Think of your company as Yoda and the client as Luke Skywalker. Yoda wasn’t the main character, but he played an integral part in the hero achieving his goals. Herein lies the basic formula of a great case study; problem, solution, outcome.
For a case study to be compelling, your business needs to tell an engaging story of how your company was the solution and allowed for a positive outcome. To tell this story, there are few steps you have to take before the actual writing takes place.
If a business intends to write a case study for marketing purposes, the crucial first step is to get the approval of the person or group of people that will be featured. A company can run into legal issues if a case study about a particular client or customer is published without their approval. There is often sensitive information that the other party may not want to be released.
Request an Interview
After a business receives approval from a client to publish a case study, the next step is to reach out to the key decision-makers involved in the business deal and request an interview. Sometimes the other party is too busy for an interview and may simply give a few quotes about their experience with a company and perhaps some success-driven data points which they can publish within the case study.
At times, companies move forward with case studies without speaking to anyone and simply outline what they did for the company. This approach is not as effective as the other two methods. It doesn’t allow prospects who may be reading the case study to relate to the other company’s problems, therefore eliminating a substantial motivating factor for the prospect to take action and use your product or service.
Ask the Right Questions
When interviewing a client, you’ll want to frame your questions to touch on the fundamental problem, solution, and outcome structure. Get quotes from the client as much as possible, but if you can only get one quote, make sure it’s about why they decided to go with your company to solve their problem. A “why” quote provides authority to your product/service claims and makes it stand out among the competition. Other great quotes to get from a client go into detail about the initial problem, how easy/affordable/effective your solution was, and specific ways they are now better off than they were before you came along (outcome).
Use the Correct Structure
When writing your case study, use this structure while following the problem, solution, outcome formula.
- Intro the client/customer and give a brief overview of their problem.
- If applicable, go into the customer evaluation process.
- Enter the vendor (your business) and the solution offered.
- State why the customer chose your solution.
- If applicable, give details of how you deployed the solution
- State what the customer can do now, after turning to your business for help.
- A soft call to action for your company to help the case study reader with their similar problem.
Now that you know how to write a case study make sure you don’t accidentally do any of the following things that can happen from time to time in case studies.
Don’t make your customer look bad
Remember that your client is doing you a favor by letting you feature them in your case study. When highlighting a customer’s initial problem, make sure not to make them look incompetent or foolish.
Don’t overdo the images or graphics
A case study’s primary purpose is to take the reader on a journey to the solution your company offers. Too many images or graphics can distract a reader or make them stop reading altogether.
Don’t get too descriptive
In a case study, don’t spend too much time describing or “selling” your product or service. The main goal of a case study is to get a prospect to seek you out. They can learn all about what you’re offering in detail at that time.
Don’t leave questions for the reader
Don’t highlight a customer problem unless you solved it. Also, don’t leave the reader questioning how they can contact you. Leave a call to action at the end that tells a little about your business and how they can get in touch.
Don’t forget to get client approval
Before you publish your case study, make sure that you get the go-ahead from your client to avoid releasing any incorrect or sensitive information.
Don’t be afraid to hire a professional writer
No matter how well you can write, case studies can be daunting. They are time-consuming due to the back and forth communication and numerous revisions. It’s never a bad idea to hire a professional to handle your case studies so you can do other things, like run your business.