It’s nice to be proud of yourself and, above all, of the products and services you offer — however, the client needs something more than that. They want real evidence that you know what you’re doing. There is nothing better than presenting it by example, through a captivating business case study.
Let’s see how it’s done!
The importance of showing benefits on real-life examples
A well-prepared business case study is one of the key tools used by companies and marketers. It’s important to know that case study ≠ use case.
A use case shows the different ways a product, service or tool can be applied while a case study is a real example how an actual client used the product along with the results they achieved.
By preparing such a document you can build credibility and trust. However, these are not the only advantages of case studies. They can also:
- Generate new, high-quality leads
- Enhance your company’s image
- Boost sales
- Provide extra social proof
If you still do not feel convinced by these arguments, let’s go to “hard data”. According to the 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report, case studies are the second most popular type of documents prepared for content marketing purposes. Also, 47% of respondents say that case studies are the most effective materials.
Step 1. Think about the format and objectives
Each business case study emphasizes the values and goals that have been achieved with the help of your company. However, depending on the client’s needs, they can vary significantly. The most popular are:
- Increasing revenue
- Cost reduction
- Customer acquisition
- Simplifying the customer service process
- Improving the brand’s image
Once you decide on the goals to focus on, you need to consider one more thing: the case study format. Many companies decide to publish some one-page documents, but it’s not the only possibility. You can prepare a few versions of such a document, depending on the channel where you will promote it.
Check out these examples:
Make it simple – written business case study
You can prepare your case study in a text-based format, such as an ebook or the above-mentioned one-pager. We recommend making it downloadablethrough, for example, a landing page after filling out the required data form. Not only can you boast about the effectiveness of your product, but also generate new leads!
Maybe some of your clients would like to shoot a short interview concerning your product/service activities?
A real person always looks convincing and it is easier to identify with them than with an impersonal text alone (Pioneer Business System and Elliot Lee Estate Agents example).
Note that not all people feel confident in the front of a camera – and if they don’t feel comfortable, they probably won’t speak about your cooperation in an engaging way.
It shares the same advantage as a video—the “live” participation of your actual client — but is easier to execute for a few reasons:
- Editing takes less time and skill than in the case of video
- Shy clients will feel more comfortable than in front of a camera
- Recording requires less equipment and preparation than for a video
Visual aspects matter – infographics and presentations
Composing and telling your story will be easier if you choose a vertical form (although there are also case studies in a horizontal display), thanks to this you will be able to present the story from beginning to end). Format the text, use professional graphic elements – do everything you can to emphasize how successful your cooperation was.
Step 2. Which client should you choose?
The choice of the client is one of the most important (and hardest) aspects that will affect the success of the material created. These factors will help you pick the ones that make a business case study hero.
The client not only loves your product, but also knows it well
This is even more important if you decide to record a podcast or video. After all, a given person must say not only that your product works great, but also add a few words about how it worked in the case of their company.
Of course, they don’t have to go into the nitty-gritty, but it’s good to have a general idea about the topic.
If your client portfolio includes large, recognizable brands, be sure to boast about them. This may require you to limit the client’s involvement in creating the case study as much as possible.
Even if you have to prepare all the material by yourself and they only take a final look at it, the logo of another well-known customer will prove a great reference and catch the eyes of new prospects.
And last but not least, even if the client meets all the above criteria, make sure that the results they achieved thanks to your product or service are really significant. Spectacular numbers with no relevant context are just meaningless numbers.
Of course, nifty marketers may brag about their ability to create something out of nothing, but why waste your time on something of disputable quality instead of creating read-worthy business case study with a client whose case is more representative?
It’s likely that not all of your clients will be willing to appear in the case study. This isn’t because they are not satisfied with the services you offer; many other factors can influence this decision.
Before you start working on the business case study, ask for permission to use the logo and write a short testimonial as well as the possibility of using an image of the author of the quote.
Step 3. Content structuring
Before you start writing (or recording), remember that business case studies, just like other pieces of marketing materials, should follow some rules and include the following information:
- Essential data: Company name, industry, how long you’ve been working together
- Context: What does your client do? What did you offer (product/feature/service)?
- Problem: What problem was your client facing? How were they trying to deal with it before you helped?
- Problem resolution: How did you work with the client? What solution did you recommend?
- Real results: At this point, it’s good to present some irrefutable data, like “10% revenue growth” etc. with a quote from a satisfied client
- “About us” section: Show a few facts and numbers concerning your company
- Call to action: Tell your prospect what to do after reading/watching your case study, like “call our sales department now”
Step 4. Write it! (and make it look amazing)
After structuring the whole case, it’s time to start writing. Be specific. Focus on facts. Collaborate with the client. And remember to give the case a catchy title.
The same applies to headers. Emphasize important fragments visually (you can put them in bold, write in larger fonts, use different colors, etc. – make them pay attention).
For the main content, use images, logos and charts. Check if the material looks good not only on your computer desktop, but also on a smartphone or tablet. Ask somebody else to read it and if it looks good, send it to the client who was the main hero of the case. Let them give you feedback and remember to apply their suggestions. Make them feel valuable and get his final approval.
Step 5. Promote your material
Some business case study formats obviously suit certain channels when it comes time to publish them. In the case of video material it will be YouTube, in the case of PowerPoint presentations, SlideShare. But there are still some other places where you can share them:
- Blog post. Write about a given service/product or about a topic related to it. Add a downloadable case study related to the subject. Promote the post on social media, via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
- Your website. It may sound like “Captain Obvious to the rescue” advice, but case studies are a perfect tool for lead nurturing.
- Print. Are you going to an important meeting with a potential client facing a similar problem as your business case study hero? Or maybe you’re giving a speech at an industry conference and will be talking about solutions for customer issues? These are perfect situations to show off your business case study.
- Email marketing. This will work great when you’ve got a segmented client database. For example, a healthcare industry case study can be sent to other leads and clients from this market. You’ll be sending a valuable material that concerns specific areas and problems they’re facing every day.
- Newsletter. Make your customers feel like a part of successful community and show them success stories of other clients. At the same time, inspire them to achieve the same outstanding goals with your product or service.
Creating a business case study may seem like a long and quite complicated journey, but the benefits from it are really worth it!
You not only show specific examples of your product’s effectiveness, but also by working with the customer on the material, you build your relationship (and show that the customer is important to you).