Case studies remain one of the top B2B content marketing tactics.
In fact, CMI research shows that 82 percent of B2B organizations are using case studies as part of their content marketing strategy, with 65 percent rating case studies as an effective form of content.
Developing a written history of your organization’s wins helps showcase the positive results your product or service has had on existing customers, as well as provide your prospects with trustworthy information.
A prospect should be able to see themselves in the shoes of your customer and think, “Hey, I have the same problem. This company can probably help me, too!”
A case study provides the proof your prospects need. A well-written, compelling story will draw them in, and they will soon recognize that your product or service is the solution they’ve been looking for to solve their challenges and achieve their goals.
Writing a Captivating Business Case Study in 7 Steps
Case study writing doesn’t need to be a complicated or tedious endeavour. Following a few simple steps will allow you to easily write case studies that will portray the proof your prospects and customers want.
1. Interview Real People
If you’ve been tasked with writing a case study, it can be tough to write an authentic and compelling story from secondary resources. It’s hard to glean a good narrative from the email correspondence between sales reps and customers. Therefore it is essential to conduct a customer interview so you can properly relate their story. Be sure to ask the right questions. Here are some easy guidelines to follow when conducting a case study interview with a customer:
- Understand what the customer’s challenges were. What pressed them to begin looking for a solution? What were the major issues facing the company? What would happen if they didn’t find a solution?
- Determine what enabled their decision process. Why did they choose you over another solution provider? What was important to them when assessing their options?
- Find out how the customer is using your solution. Who is using the product? What do they like the most?
- Quantify the results (the more numbers the better). What were the measureable outcomes? How much time is being saved, how did productivity increase, what revenues were generated?
With these questions answered, you will be armed with your story.
2. Focus on the Business Problem
A prospect needs to see him or herself in your customer’s shoes. An effective case study should focus on the business problem. Beyond selling a product or service, you’re selling a solution to a challenge and resolving a customer’s pain points.
The business problem should be written in a way that any prospect (not necessarily vertical- or industry-specific) can relate to the broad challenge. Hook your readers from the start by providing a means for them to connect with the larger challenges being addressed.
3. Provide Strong Testimonials
Testimonials validate your claims, and they influence buying decisions.
By including testimonials into your case study, you give the reader an understanding of what was carried out and why it was valuable from the customer’s perspective.
The best approach is to write your case study using the customer’s own words. Incorporate as many quotes as possible. Your case study will flow much more like a story, making it highly readable.
To draw the reader’s attention, pull your most compelling quotes out to feature them throughout the body. For a personal touch, include an image of the individual who is saying the quote.
4. Incorporate Tangible Numbers
Typically, in business, business pain comes down to dollars. So numbers are key, and the more the better.
Prospects and customers want to know the ROI. Quantifying the results of your win adds authenticity and increases your credibility. Moreover, the results emphasize the impact your product or service can deliver.
If you’re struggling to get these numbers, ask the customer what their life was like before and compare it with what it’s like now. How are they able to do something differently? And what couldn’t they do before?
5. Use a Simple Template
The format of your case study doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Like a great story, you need a beginning, middle and an end.
Here is a simple template to guide your case study writing:
6. Drop the Buzz Words and Avoid Product Information
You should avoid industry buzz words and product lingo.
The purpose of a case study is to move the reader to some form of emotional response. Buzz words and product lingo can get in the way of your customer’s journey.
Have someone outside your industry read it to help flush out the buzz words and heavy product focus.
7. Remember: A Case Study is as much of a Win for Your Customer as it is for You
The customer is doing you a favour by agreeing to participate in a case study. You need to make them look good by incorporating the things they want the world to know about them.
People are very cautious about their reputation and brand. If the case study does not reflect a positive image, you’re going to have a tough time getting approval to publish.