February 28, 2013
The full-on sales pitch often goes down like a lead balloon in professional services. Case studies can provide a more intelligent and subtler method of persuasion and can become a powerful and profitable marketing tool for your business if used correctly.
Most case studies are written to demonstrate an organisation’s capabilities as a solutions provider; however, a profitable case study will effectively communicate your organisation’s capability to solve a specific challenge experienced by a specific target market.
The profitable case study cuts the fluff and the oversell, limits the marketing jargon, the type and the self serving internal high-fives. The potential client is presented with a potential solution in a language they understand in the most compelling way. By all means highlight your success stories, but do so from the perspective of those who have benefited from your success – THE CLIENTS.
Write a profitable case study.
Before you start, a few tips:
1. What is the purpose of the case study?
Understand why you are writing the case study in the first place. Who is it for? And how do you expect it to help them?
To keep your focus on a specific target market, it may be useful to create a client persona based on your target client e.g. name, type / size of business, key decision maker, and the business challenge they face.
2. What do your clients need to know?
Prepare a list of specific questions relating to the business challenge faced from the perspective of a prospective client in other words put yourself in the shoes of your client and interrogate your organisation. The answers to the questions will be the key points around which you story should be structured.
3. Structure Your Story
The most effective structure is:
THE BEGINNING – The business challenge
The client background, issues the client faced, and why the client chose to work with your company.
THE MIDDLE – The Solution
How the client issue was addressed and a solution implemented.
THE END – The Outcome and Benefits
This is where the conversion from random prospect to potential client is most likely to begin, and so a considerable amount of time should be spent here illustrating how the client benefited from your efforts. Explain the short term and long term benefits, the quantitative and qualitative, and the direct and indirect benefits of the solution implemented.
4. Use an Executive Summary
Be mindful of your audience’s preferred way of imbibing information. An executive summary at the start of the case study allows you to provide a skim-able summary for those who prefer their information high level.
5. Incorporate Your Clients’ Voice
Using the voice of an actual client lends credence to the authenticity of the assertions in your case study, and as ever, third party validation is the quickest way to reassure a prospect, influence them in your favour and convert them into a paying customer.
Incorporate and highlight quotes where possible to make your case study even more unique and engaging for potential readers.
6. The Optimal Length
Time is money, and the longer the case study, the less likely it is to be read so be disciplined and keep it to no more than 500 words, broken into digestible paragraphs.
7. Presentation Matters
Limit the use of images to one, and avoid using photographs that are obviously stock photos. A client logo, photo, or a photo of the end result all work well.
8. Tell them what to do next
Now that you’ve captured their attention, don’t leave them hanging. Give them a call to action; tell them what they should do next if they have a similar challenge. The direct email address of the relevant contact within the organisation works well together with their bio.