Most marketers will know that there's no more powerful marketing tool than word of mouth.As consumers, we're far more likely to buy a product or service if the reviews are good or our friends and colleagues make recommendations. And when it comes to business, testimonials and case studies are the last word in brand endorsement.
Case studies have been around for decades.In fact, case studies were used as tools for teaching and developing theories in science and medicine during the nineteenth century and went on to be used by industrialists throughout the last century to convey both theories and facts about manufacturing processes and success stories.
Today, case studies are common place across all business sectors, and continue to be not only valuable in terms of engaging target audiences and closing sales, but also as a tool for brand engagement and digital content.
What is a case study?
In simple terms, a case study is a demonstration of how a product or service resolved an issue and the resulting benefits.Case studies are usually compiled by the party that resolved the problem, enabling them to show other potential customers why they should buy their product or service.
Case studies are often produced by the customer too, in order to show their audience why and how they have invested in a solution that offers a further benefit to their own customers e.g. a business may want to show why they have invested in new software and the benefits it brings to their own customers.
Typically case studies comprise:
- Setting in the scene – background information on the customer and an outline of the problem
- Why the solution provider was chosen and how
- Why the solution itself was chosen
- How and where it was implemented and over what time period
- An outline of any particular obstacles and how they were overcome
- The resulting benefits to the customer
- A written testimonial from the customer
The details outlined in each of these areas will vary depending on the type of case study being written. More detailed case studies will include images, charts, data and so on.
Type of case studies
Case studies can be as short and concise and the list above, or they can be written as an in-depth paper, particularly when there is a lot of valuable technical information to communicate.
There are many ways to tell a story, but more information provides more validation.
Here are a few examples of case studies:
Project Outlines: Ideal for websites, they can concisely outline a customer name, the sector, the problem, the chosen solution. Written testimonials from the customer offer added validation.But, it's always worth remembering that if you add a testimonial for one project, you need to add one for all projects, otherwise it looks as though only some of your customers were prepared to give you an endorsement.
Short Case Studies: Following all of the base points shown above, but keeping it to a paragraph or two of text for each point.Putting the text both online and into a downloadable format will give the reader the option to take the story away and remember you.
In-Depth Case Studies/Papers: These tend to include far more detail about the project, such as technical, manufacturing, scoping and testing data.This is particularly important in specialist technical engineering applications.In this case, the reader will be looking for detail so these stories will tend to run upwards of 4 pages.
Published Case Study Articles: While these will still communicate the main parts of the project, case study articles are written more as a story, still highlighting key facts or benefits, but also allowing the author to add additional comment, along with comments from other industry experts or third parties.
Video Case Studies: In recent years, video has become the most powerful and engaging marketing tool and is ideal for case studies.Making a video story of a project does require some planning ahead, but if your customer is on board then you can show off your capabilities is stunning formats, including direct customer interviews and product demonstrations.
Your customers are your most valuable sales tool, which makes it all the more important that you build strong relationships with your customers and look after them, because one day they may just help to look after you!
TPMC have written and produced all kinds of case studies, including carrying out customer interviews and writing and producing stories for all formats.If you need any help with writing, producing or promoting case studies, please don't hesitate to get in touch.