Case Study: A marketing tool that helps to attract and convert prospects by describing the results of working with or buying from a business.
When small business owners talk about their marketing challenges, they cite a wide range of different issues depending on the business they’re in. But, many owners have some challenges in common expressed as things like these examples:
- Getting prospects to understand what we do.
- Getting prospects to understand why they need our products/services.
- Explaining the benefits of our products/services.
- Getting people to trust our company and do business with us.
- Getting people to understand why we’re better than our competitors.
- Managing prospect expectations.
- Justifying the cost of our products/services.
If you have uttered one or more of those sentences lately, you’re among the small business owners who should take a hard look at using case studies in your marketing strategy.
Really? Case Studies?
Yes, small businesses benefit just as much from case studies as do larger businesses. If you’re familiar with case studies, you’ve probably run across them on the websites of medium to large companies. Under their Resources tab on the navigation, they may even have a category for case studies. And, maybe you should, too.
What is a Case Study?
Here’s a brief overview of what a case study is all about. It’s written about the experience of one of your customers. It’s typically divided into three sections.
- The Problem. A description of the problems or challenges facing the customer before you hit the scene.
- The Solution: A description of what you did to address the problem. You can describe the products and services you provided to the customer and how those things helped them fix their problems. It also gives you a chance to differentiate yourself from your competitors. It gives the reader an idea of how you approach your customers’ problems and what it’s like working with you.
- The Result: This section is where you figure out what qualitative or quantitative results the customer experienced because of your expert assistance.
To complete a case study, you need to have the cooperation of one of your customers. And, done properly, customers really like participating. You’d be careful that the case study doesn’t paint your customer as incompetent, just as someone making an informed choice to address their problems. You can always offer an incentive. too.
A business may like having a link back to their website to help with their SEO. For either businesses or consumers, you could offer a small discount on their next purchase, a gift card, or some other token of your appreciation.
How Do You Publish a Case Study?
There are several ways to publish a case study, depending on how fancy you want to get.
- Publish the case study as a blog post. You can still use the same content and publishing it as a blog post is the least amount of effort.
- Publish the case study on your letterhead. You do have a version of your letterhead that you can use in Word, for example, right? You can create a Word file containing the case study and save it as a PDF file for distribution.
- Publish the case study with some graphics. If you have a way to create a PDF file with graphics in it, you can create a cover page, the content pages, and an end page with information about your company. You can use stock photos to illustrate the content, create “call outs” to intersperse in the content to highlight critical information, create charts or graphs if it’s appropriate, and more.
Why Do Case Studies Work?
Small businesses can use case studies whether they’re selling to consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B).
B2C Marketing: A case study is very similar to a customer review, but you have the opportunity to give consumers much more information about your product or service.
Have you seen the research showing that 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and 49% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family? Well, it’s true. What that means is that you can use case studies to help your marketing even if you’re selling to consumers.
B2B Marketing: The DemandGen content preferences survey found that 49% of B2B buyers found case studies very helpful in making purchase decisions. In addition, other research shows that 80% of B2B buyers use case studies as part of their buying research.
So, regardless of whether you’re selling to consumers or businesses, your prospects are looking to things like case studies to make their purchasing decisions.
What Case Studies Can Do for You
Remember those marketing challenges small business owners listed at the beginning of this blog post? Case studies are the perfect way to address all of them. Here’s why.
- Case studies describe what you do and why your prospects need your product or service. If it’s difficult to get prospects to understand what you do, a case study can help. For one thing, a case study is your opportunity to really figure out how to describe your business. Once you have it in writing, you’ll be able to use it when you’re talking to your prospects, too.
- Case studies describe the benefits of your products or services in real terms. A case study does an excellent job of describing the benefits of your offerings in real terms, based on the experience of someone that your prospects can relate to.
- Case studies build trust and credibility. Real world examples of how you successfully help your customers instill confidence and show that you can deliver on your promises.
- Case studies can highlight your solutions. You can showcase the unique way you go about helping your customers and show how you have solutions that set you apart in your marketplace.
- Case studies point out the return on investment you offer your customers. You can describe the benefits your customer received and, in many cases, show how they turned the expense of working with you into an investment.
- Case studies can improve your website’s SEO. You can optimize your case study for SEO and drive traffic to your website.
Maybe the best thing case studies do for you is they give you the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of how to present your products and services to prospects and customers.
If you want assistance with developing case studies, or want to learn how to develop case studies yourself, get in touch!
Since 2004, when Kathleen Allardyce established Getting It Write, Inc, she has used her background in writing, consulting, marketing and sales to create content for her clients that differentiates them from their competitors to supercharge their marketing and sales.