Think case studies are old-fashioned and out of date? Think again!
We business owners are fickle.
We get so excited about the latest marketing techniques (Clubhouse, anyone?) that we clean forget about the tried and tested methods. We kick off the comfy slippers of marketing, and dive straight into those brand new tactics, even though the old ones are still effective right here, in good old 2023.
Back in the 90s, when I was cutting my teeth (and testing my liver) as a young marketing manager, the exciting, new kid on the block was……… ‘Case Studies’!
It’s hard to imagine by today’s standards, but all I EVER got asked for by the sales teams I worked with was ‘more case studies’ (and ‘branded pens’, man, they were CRAZY for branded pens).
These days, hardly any of my clients ask me to create a case study. But, when I suggest that they could be useful and then hand them over, they instantly love them and see how valuable they are.
Today, I’m here to convince you that your team should also be using case studies.
Okay, Pip, what’s so darn good about case studies?
1. They last like, FOREVER. Case studies are, hands down, THE most reusable, repurposable, environmentally friendly, multi-purpose piece of content you can create.
2. They position your business as a leader in its field. Why on EARTH would your client agree to the pain of helping you to create one of these unless they were TOTALLY blown away by what you did for them? (Pro tip: always ask your customer to review and approve the case study, and include a quote from their perspective.)
3. They showcase every tiny aspect of what you can do for your clients. How many times did you finish up a sales meeting thinking: “Shoot! (As if) I didn’t mention how the extra sprocket on the Bibbilybong 2000 is a total gamechanger for our customers, and why!” If you are all ready to send a case study as a follow-up to that sales meeting, you don’t need to worry, these kinds of deal closing details are all there in black and white. You can include as much or as little detail as you want.
4. You can share success stats in them very easily without feeling like a dork. Using the words “Say, Joe, did you know we actually increased sales for our client by 42.9% last year” IRL, without feeling a bit too Jerry McGuire, is challenging. In a case study, it’s normal to do this!
5. They make what your business does relatable, and understandable. Life is pretty tough at times for us poor old service providers. When you don’t have an actual product to show your clients, it’s difficult for you and your team members (especially the newbies) to get across what’s so good about it. A case study does those hard yards for you. It basically says to potential clients: Here’s X business. They’re just like you for Y reasons. They had Z problem, just like you do, so they used our service to solve it and they got these super-duper results.
What’s not to love?!
Why have businesses forgotten about using case studies?
Because they need a rebrand.
It’s the name ‘case study’ that we’ve fallen out of love with.
If I could be put in charge of rebranding literally anything, here would be my list:
1. Lazy Susans – doesn’t mean anything, sounds unappealing though they’re actually pretty cool and useful. Offensive to Susans.
2. The Liberal Democrats – completely non-engaging. Who wants to vote for this? What does it mean? How about the ‘People Party’ instead? I could get behind that.
3. Case studies – the biggest UGH of all. Sounds dull, effortful and time-wastey.
‘Case study’’ sounds dated. It sounds all…60s and ‘Mad Men’.
It conjures up images of advertising execs, guffawing smugly around a drawing board while drinking whisky and smoking pipes all over each other.
So, if we agree that we hate the phrase ‘case study’, that it’s out of date, kind of meaningless; definitely doesn’t do what it says on the tin.
How about we call them: ‘customer stories’ instead?
You may not have any case studies. But, I know you have ‘customer stories’.
I also know that your business already uses them to sell its services.
Think about your sales people. Do you imagine they’re hosting sales conversations without mentioning past success stories? (I hope they aren’t!)
Do you think they ever share an anecdote with potential customers about how your firm has done this kind of work before, for client X, who had Z problem, just like your prospect, so they used your service to solve it?
There you go. That’s a customer story (case study).
Ah-ha! Maybe you do have them? Maybe they just aren’t written down yet?
Do case studies have to be boring?
Here are some examples of fun case studies:
- Case studies don’t have to be written down, use video instead like The One Of Many Community
- Add a cute photo to get attention like Slack
- Keep them short and snappy like The Mind Gym
- Use powerful stats like LinkedIn
- Give them an eye catching title like Amp Agency
- Keep them on brand and colourful – here’s one of ours!
So now we’ve agreed that they aren’t just for 60s advertising execs (and marketing exams!), perhaps you could use them in your business….?
- As online resources that you can link to during an email follow up with a prospect.
- As a social proof slide in a speaking gig deck.
- As an instagram story or reel.
- As the basis of a LinkedIn post.
- To support a PR story that you’re pitching to journalists.
- As a nicely printed piece to go with an introduction letter in a direct mail campaign.
- As a training tool for new members of your team.
- As an everlasting reminder of how awesome your business is, for those ‘ugh’ days.
Tips for writing great case studies:
1. Here’s a blog post that we published a while back about how to create case studies that close deals.
2. Outsource! We create case studies for clients as part of our Freelance Marketing Manager service.
Want to know more about how we can help you write more case studies to land more sales? Book in a no obligation free call here. On the call I’ll get to know your business and give you some personalised advice. Then, if you’re interested, we can discuss how we can support you in your marketing.