9 Crucial Steps to Creating a Case Study
Don’t you wish there was a tactful way to brag about all of the things your company does well as well as the types of clients you work with? Well, there is. Creating a case study that highlights a customer success story allows you to promote strengths and build value in a story-form that doesn’t feel as though you are selling your product. Also, potential customers may develop an emotional connection with your satisfied customer when they read how their peer resolved issues and reached the place that they too are aiming for.
So how do you create a case study that provides all of these amazing benefits? Read on to find out.
How to Create a Standout Case Study
When future customers develop a connection with your past customer that you featured in a case study, they are also emotionally relating to your business.
The 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report from Content Marketing Institute indicates that 35 percent of B2C and 82 percent of B2B marketers are engaged in creating case studies. Also, 65 percent of the B2B marketing participants in the survey responded that case studies were powerful marketing tools for them. In fact, case studies are one of the five most important marketing tactics for B2B businesses. However, many case studies never make it from concept to publication, let alone conversion.
Here are 9 tips to help you learn how to create a case study that will easily transform from marketing copy to webinars to landing pages, and more.
1. Choose the Most Important Aspect of Your Company
Choose the most important feature, service, or product to promote. What does your company provide that your competitors don’t? Go through your list of strengths and zero in on the ones distinguishing you from your competitors. Once you’ve identified this one thing, it’s time to get into the meat of what problems it solved. Most case studies are created in a problem/solution format to help potential customers resonate with their own pain points and how your offering will provide a solution for them, too.
2. Select an Audience Sector
Select an audience sector to prioritize. This is your chance to choose and give priority to a particular audience market. By creating case studies that are sector-specific, you can drive various prospective customers down a variety of marketing funnels concentrated on their precise needs.
This is also a chance to highlight some of your best clientele as a way to both recruit other similar clients, as well as to scratch the back of that client and improve your relationship with them. Once you get to the point of promoting your case study (see later steps), you’ll also be increasing the visibility of the client (or clients) you’ve highlighted in your case studies.
Creating case studies can be a mutually beneficial endeavor when done correctly. See the next step.
3. Seek Customer Collaboration
Seek customer collaboration. Receiving collaboration is probably the most challenging and time-consuming portion of the process of creating a case study. However, if you already have customers expressing gratitude, the recruitment process will be more straightforward. Scour your social media accounts, search forums and review sites for appreciation. Pay attention to who brings you the most referrals and check your inbox frequently for thank you emails.
Once you’ve identified a potential client to collaborate with, go into it with a partnership attitude. One mistake many companies make when learning how to create a case study is they make it all about them. You improve the chances of your case study having more reach and connecting with new customers when you highlight your existing customer in your marketing case study.
4. Obtain Written Permission From a Customer
Obtain written permission to relay the customer’s story for marketing purposes. An affirmative verbal response after a meeting or during an excited phone call will only hold up so far. While obtaining permission in writing might delay the process a bit, you will be covered if your contact changes their mind or policies change.
Be sure to also outline all of the parameters of the case study in a written format as well. For instance, if you want quotes from your customer (please get quotes!), then make sure it’s labeled as an item that will be asked for as a part of the process. The same goes for any other information that potentially could be sensitive (such as sales data, traffic data, or any other company metrics).
The more data you can get from a customer in relation to the case study you creating, the better, but be careful not to push for that information at the expense of your relationship with that existing client.
5. Review Case Study Goals
Review case study goals and adjust them respectively. Every case study you create should have a set of goals that you’re trying to achieve. It may be to increase sales from a specific demographic, increase site visits to a specific page of your website or improve your online reputation. Determine what those goals are and let them shape your case study.
Case studies are also very sharable pieces of content, either as marketing material or as evergreen content online. For instance, the most powerful piece of marketing material you could give out at an industry tradeshow is a case study highlighting exactly how you’ve helped businesses in that industry and the benefits they saw from it.
6. Pick a Case Study Format
Pick a case study format. Many businesses use written case studies in a story format, but you may also want to consider bringing your customer on your webinar or podcast or producing a video. Regardless of which you choose, account for the one that best resonates for you and your team, the customer, and your target audience for the case study.
Typically, the format of a case study should revolve around highlighting the problems the client was experiencing and then the solutions your product/service provided. Backing up those solutions with real data (think revenue, leads, or any other important industry metric), hammers the point home and shows your authority in the space.
7. Schedule an Interview
Schedule an interview. Make sure your customer recognizes the importance of accommodating their needs, particularly if time zones are involved. Find out when your customer is available to talk and work the interview around their schedule. Make every effort to make your customer’s availability a priority.
For the actual interview you conduct to help in creating the case study, make sure you’re prepared with a list of all of the questions you’ll be covering. You may even consider sending the questions over in advance of the interview so they can have some answers already prepared. Or, if their time is short, you could even have them fill out a “written” interview, by answering the questions in writing and emailing them back over to you.
When creating a case study, a face-to-face interview is always the best route to pursue in order to capture a well-rounded view of your client’s story. But, in the digital age, there are ways you can make do without it.
8. Highlight Your Client’s Journey
Highlight your client’s journey with your brand. When creating a case study, many times you’ll want to tell a story. That story should chronicle the history of your client with your brand and how both your teams have worked together to generate their success.
You’ll want to make sure you adequately highlight the features of your product/service that were of the most value to your client and why. Be sure to highlight the benefits and success your client saw as a result of using those products/services. In everything, keep it client-focused so that potential customers can always see themselves inside of the case study rather than just seeing a shameless piece of marketing material.
9. Promote Your Case Study
Alert your audience about your case study in every way possible. Include your case study in your social media, email newsletter, blog, and site copy. You may want to even designate a specific web page on your site solely for case studies. No matter how you do it, you’ll want to publish or promote your case study in as many venues as possible.
Also, utilize your customer as a way of promotion. If, when creating your case study, you’ve gone the right way about highlighting that customer and the success and benefits they’ve seen from working with you, it will be easier for them to want to share the information as well. In the end, the more eyes that see your case study in different business circles, the better chance it has to be seen by the right customer that can utilize what your company offers.
Creating a Case Study is Absolutely Worth It
When it comes to learning how to create a case study, it may seem like an impossible task and appear complicated at first. By following this short checklist, you can simplify the process.
Creating case studies can be extremely beneficial when trying to gain new customers. It allows you to show them your positive track record and connect with new customers on an emotional level. For help writing a case study, contact us today!
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