As a case study writer, I’m often asked, “what is a case study?”
A case study is a testimonial with a purpose. That purpose is to help a prospect see herself using your product/service.
This might seem simple, but it’s not. It can be incredibly difficult to ask people to give you a testimonial, which is one reason why I write case studies for clients. An example might explain better.
Imagine your sales staff has a hot buyer. This company wants to use your manufacturing facility. But they’re dithering.
Your sales staff can’t quite figure out why.
The buying rep has read your white papers. Their R&D department has asked questions. Your two companies seem a perfect fit.
And your sales staff still . . .
. . . can’t quite close the deal.
Perhaps it’s because this customer can’t picture themselves using you.
They might not be able to imagine what working with you is like.
Not a science, research-based case study like those that appear in scientific journals.
Instead a marketing case study.
A marketing case study – like a science case study – involves an up-close, in-depth, and detailed examination of a subject. However, in a marketing case study, the subject is a wonderfully-satisfied customer.
A case study is one customer’s experience with your product/service – and by a story, I mean the case study starts off with the situation before the customer knew you.
In other words, it begins with your customer talking about their problem(s). It discusses what solutions the customer considered. Finally it shows why they chose your company. It includes the experience they had working with you – and why you were the best choice.
A case study includes your solution and the ROI of your solution. (Even if no hard financial savings was realized – time, productivity, or other ROI can often be measured.)
It’s a fun-to-read testimonial with lots of pictures. It tells your customer’s story – with authoritative quotes touting your awesomeness of course!
A case study usually includes a picture of the customer and their logo. Sometimes it shows them using your product, or has pictures of their facility. It often includes charts or graphs to easily show how you saved them time or money.
As potential customers read a case study, they see themselves in your satisfied customer. They identify with this customer. This develops trust through social proof.
As the Content Marketing Institute reports,
We look for and act on (even if subconsciously) social proof in all areas our life – including how we behave and the purchasing decisions we make online.
Social proof can come from friends, or even strangers. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re seeing evidence from other people like us that the decision we’re about to make is the right one.
In other words, having several case studies is better than just one or two. It’s a good idea to have one for every product/service you offer in each of your markets. Also, if there are any key objections you face, it’s good to have one for each of those as well.
You want enough case studies so your prospect feels comfortable with any and all of her objections.
Now imagine this buyer has looked at a few Contract Manufacturing Organizations (CMO’s). All these CMO’s are reputable. They’re all GMP certified through NSF for dietary supplements. They all seem to be a good fit. This prospect is having a tough time choosing.
And your company hands them a case study.
This case study shows a customer just like them. It shows how you solved this customer’s problem.
Voila – this hot buyer can now picture themselves using you as their manufacturer.
A case study overcomes the last niggling hurdles prospects have.
You can, of course, write your own case studies.
It takes time.
And you might not feel comfortable interviewing or writing.
There are a lot of moving parts – selecting the right customer, getting buy-in from stakeholders, obtaining approvals from the customer, developing questions, interviewing the customer, creating graphics, etc., etc.
That’s why I’m a case study writer.
I’ve developed a process for writing case studies from start to finish.
And I know from experience that sometimes you get the most honest case study when you use an outside case study writer.