We’ll hazard a guess that most brands don’t think of case studies as the most exciting marketing trick in the toolbox. Case studies might even seem a little humdrum when stacked up against new technologies and the latest developments in social media.
But leaving case studies out of your marketing strategy means leaving an incredibly valuable tool unutilized. In this article we’ll explore what makes case studies so useful from a marketing perspective, and what components go into creating the most effective ones.
Why case studies make such effective marketing tools
In a B2B context, or even in a B2C service or software context, case studies offer one of the most effective ways to promote your company and your services or products.
Some key benefits that case studies offer include:
Creating trust - Brands do a lot of work convincing potential customers of their trustworthiness, but ultimately customers know when they’re being sold to. Good case studies hero the client and his or her direct experience. This helps build brand trust because consumers value the opinions of their peers over the sales messages of businesses.
Generating social proof - Trust and social proof are closely related because social proof is a component of building trust. These days we’re all about digital social proof (think of Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, and other review aggregators). We want to know something’s good before we take a chance on it. Case studies are a mechanism to create social proof for your brand.
Delivering a wow factor - When done right, case studies can create a major “wow factor”. Highlighting specific, tangible results you’ve achieved for clients or customers can have the effect of breaking through the competitive noise and capturing a user’s attention.
Presenting an opportunity for storytelling - We’ve written before about the power of storytelling to help brands develop a deeper, more meaningful connection with their audiences. Case studies are great examples of storytelling. You can use them to tell engaging and persuasive stories about the meaningful impact your brand has had on your customers.
Content that’s unique and specific to you - Digital marketing runs on content, and on the most basic level case studies are fuel to power the content machine. Even more importantly, however, the case studies your company creates are entirely unique and specific to you. They can’t be replicated elsewhere or imitated by competitors and that’s the most valuable form of content there is.
The critical components of an effective case study
Yes, case studies have tremendous marketing potential, but as with everything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Not all case studies are created equal, so we’ll cover the essential components of an effective one here:
First, a good case study must identify both the client and their problem. Talk a little bit about what the client does and what their strengths are before explaining the issues they were facing that led them to seek out your company’s services or products.
With the problem clearly outlined, you should go into some detail about the solution(s) your company recommended and why this solution was the right one to address the needs of your client. Be specific about what the goals you agreed upon were.
You can then discuss the methodology of implementation. Were there any challenges you faced, and if so, how were you able to overcome them?
Finally, what was the outcome of the implementation? In other words, what results were you able to achieve. Here is where it’s essential to get the client to say, in their own words, what the actual impact of those results was for their business.
No one wants to feel like a sucker. That’s why as consumers we’re so preoccupied with reducing risk by acquiring proof of the value and quality of any given service or product before we commit to it. Case studies can help alleviate consumer doubt by providing solid evidence of your brand’s track record of success. A well-written case study will help your business stand out from the competition by creating persuasive content that’s completely unique to you.