Case studies—aka client success stories—are an invaluable way for companies to market their solutions and position themselves with target segments. They provide a number of specific benefits:
- Helps make the intangible tangible. Clients may not fully comprehend the value of your solutions when they scan your website or read your collateral. This is particularly true for service companies whose solutions are by their nature intangible. Case studies help bring your solutions to life by showing how they have been successfully applied to address real-life challenges.
- Highlights your ability to solve challenges. The benefits and key applications of your solutions will resonate more with clients and prospects when the cases show how you were able to tackle—and solve—specific business challenges.
- Captures the voice of the customer. Case studies that discuss solutions based on real-life business challenges help reinforce your customer-centric positioning.
- Supports your targeting efforts. Because clients and prospects tend to connect best with stories about companies that share similar characteristics, case studies should reflect your key target segments (industry, geography, size of business, function within organization, etc.).
- Promotes the power of teamwork within your organization. Case studies that highlight the roles played by various departments in helping clients overcome business challenges can both boost employee morale and foster greater collaboration between groups within your organization.
Unfortunately, due to poor development and execution, many companies fail to leverage the power of case studies. The following are some key considerations for optimizing returns on your case study investment:
- Create a situation-approach-outcome structure. Start with a short summary of the client’s situation and relevant challenges. Then describe how your approach in partnership with the client addressed these challenges. Finally, document the results. And remember, outcomes can be quantitative (e.g., increased sales, reduced costs) or qualitative (e.g., client testimonials on the value provided by your company).
- Develop succinct messaging. Our media and information consumptions patterns have changed significantly over the past decade. Business executives simply do not have the time or inclination to wade through long descriptions. To be effective, individual sections (situation, approach, outcome) should be descriptive enough to enable the reader to retain the overall narrative, but be easily scanned.
- Design your case study to be more appealing to viewers. Mirroring the need to adapt messaging to changing information-consumption patterns, deploy a range of visual methods. Enhance the visual appeal of printable case studies: Incorporate headings, callouts, charts and images, different colors and font formats/sizes to better capture the reader’s attention and to promote important elements of the case study. In addition, many online case studies feature videos of clients discussing their successful projects.
- Weigh the pros and cons of featuring real-life clients in case studies. Many case studies feature videos of real-life clients who discuss their business challenges and their partnership with the company. These often resonate well with your other clients and prospects, and can enhance your credibility and illustrate your focus on customer needs. However, note that there can be some drawbacks. One is time (clients often have lengthy and restrictive approval processes). Another is that other viewers may perceive the featured client as having such a unique set of circumstances and challenges that they are not pertinent to their business. An alternative is to consider using “anonymous” case studies or developing narratives around a series of client personas that are representative of your typical client base.
- Market the case study through multiple media. Case studies work well across multiple marketing channels, including your website, social media platforms, podcasts, webinars and live events. In addition, incorporate case studies into new business presentations, RFPs and proposals to support your sales efforts.