By Erika Turan
Case studies are an integral part of a marketer’s arsenal, helping to convey compelling information about a brand, product or service. With the ability to transcend a number of industries, from hotels to healthcare to manufacturing, their applicability is endless. Our award-winning Cincinnati marketing agency creates them for an array of clients, from Fortune 500 companies to small, technical firms.
Writing a great case study doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. In fact, if the subject matter can pass a simple litmus test, it practically writes itself.
Before you get started, ask these questions:
- “Is whatever I’m trying to prove, in fact, true?” If your senior leadership wants the word out about a new product that saves clients 20 percent, make sure the claim is accurate. Besides being unethical and misleading, a case study built on fibs is actually really hard to write. Because, you know, you’re just making stuff up.
- “Do I have visuals or testimonials?” Great case studies include tools that amplify the content. Those could be charts, graphs, before-and-after photos, testimonials or something I haven’t even suggested here. If you can answer yes to this question, you’re well on your way to creating an effective case study.3.
- “Do I have data or measurement to prove the results?” The best case studies do. Admittedly, there are times when you may only have qualitative evidence, and that can work too. Just steer clear of creating a case study that makes a grand claim but has no evidence to back it up.
Next, determine the ways you can implement a case study. There are lots. Just make sure you aren’t creating something that will exist solely on your own hard drive. Here are a few ideas to help extend the reach of a case study:
- Digital – Post it on your company website, repurpose the content into a blog, make it the landing page of a pay-per-click campaign or integrate it into social media.
- Podcast – Use it as the outline of a podcast conversation.
- Eblast – Integrate the copy and design into the body of an email and send to prospective or existing customers.
- Call to action – Tease aspects of the case study and make it fully available if recipients activate your call to action (e.g., visiting your website or signing up for your email list).
- Sales collateral – Use it as a sales tool.
Now that you know where and how you’ll use a case study, your final step is to determine its format. The best case studies follow a basic format that allows them to tell a story: summarize the situation; describe the challenge faced; delve into what steps were taken to reach success; conclude with data-driven results. Depending on your brand, be sure to include details that will draw the reader in. If it’s for a construction company, include adjectives that paint a picture of what the surroundings looked like when this project was underway. If it’s for a healthcare organization, include a brief anecdote from a patient or researcher involved in the project.
If you aren’t using case studies to maximize your marketing reach, we’re happy to give you some ideas to overcome the obstacles. Maybe we’ll start with a case study showing you how case studies are awesome.