To quote my lovely colleague Siân, ‘it’s always better to show than tell’.
Siân originally passed on this nugget of wisdom regarding some content I was trying to create for The Marketing Architect Huddle. Ever since then I have realised that it applies in all sorts of settings, whether that’s showing children how you can ask for what you want without shouting, rather than telling them (that’s a tricky one at 5pm on a Monday) or, for a politician, showing the general public that you believe in equality, rather than telling them (Jacinda Ardern style).
When it comes to marketing your business, there’s no better way of showing your audience what you can do for them, than sharing a case study about one of your customer successes. Case studies are useful in all sorts of ways: blog posts, sales meetings, nurturing sequences, content for a PR meeting with a journalist, to educate new employees, etc, etc.
There’s a particular skill to writing a case study. It’s not something that’s taught, or even discussed very much. But, if you haven’t got a copywriter (or Marketing Architect) working on your team, you can do it for yourself. A case study is basically a story about your working relationship with a customer, and should follow this simple structure:
- The Problem – the issue that your customer was facing, and what drove them to select you as a supplier, over your competitors.
- The Solution – what you provided to help them resolve their problem – this is the technical part.
- The Result – what they thought of what you delivered and how it resolved their problem. Best practice is to get an authorised quote in here, and include any ROI statistics that the customer might be able to provide.
We often write these for our clients, and ourselves (here’s one) and to get the job done quickly, we follow a strict process:
- Get a first version of the story from business owner.
- Speak to their customer and ask them a set of specific questions, record this conversation if you can, so you can go back and pick out the sound bites.
- Create a first draft of the case study, including the end customer’s quote.
- Send to our client for review and editing.
- Identify any images that could accompany the case study.
- Send images and case study to end-customer for review and amends.
- Finalise and publish.
The questions that we ask the end-customer are finely tuned to give us a set of answers that we can quickly refine into an interesting case study. You might find them useful too, so here they are (in these examples X equals our client, but you could change it to ‘us’ or ‘we’):
- (Setting the scene and defining the challenge) – Please could you describe the situation you were in before you decided to work with X. What were the specific challenges and issues that were you facing that you hoped X would be able to help you with? Did you have a particular objective in mind?
- Did you have any concerns about working with X? Did X overcome these concerns in the process of working with you? If so, how?
- Had you ever worked with other [this type of business] previously? How did working with X differ from that experience?
- Please could you detail the process of working with X.
- How did you feel after working with X, and how it was successful? Would you say that working with X enabled you to achieve a particular successful outcome?
- Will you be working with X again? In what capacity? Would you recommend X to others?
Once you have asked all of these, you should have enough material to create the case study, but if you need more advice, why not drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org, we’ll be happy to help out!