They say to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes in order to see their perspective. We hear stories and read literature that opens our perspective and allows us to feel and see things in a way we hadn’t before.
Usually this phrase is used in the context of the lack of perspective and understanding of individuals and their past, encouraging a more open heart to understand others and show more kindness and acceptance.
Not only can this phrase guide our moral compass, it can also be utilized as an effective tool in marketing.
Storytelling has become an important part of content marketing. As an individual or company reads the story of another with the same task or problem at hand, they can see themselves being in that or another situation and can see a solution.
Case studies address the concerns of businesses and individuals. When readers can place themselves in the story, the case study serves as an aid to envision the use of your product or service.
You may think that perhaps not many people will read it because they’re lengthier than a short few sentences, but case studies are some of the most helpful content marketing tools. In fact, “case studies are often more effective than brochures and traditional sales collateral. Why? Because everyone loves stories.”
Of course, who doesn’t love a good story? But we aren’t talking about fantasies. Case studies are far from fairytales, they’re real life examples containing “a direct endorsement from a satisfied customer.”
Due to the ample amount of information available through social media and the internet, everyone relies on reviews. OptinMonster shares that customers are becoming increasingly less trusting of sales and “invest more in peer reviews and factual findings. Studies show nearly 70 percent of online consumers look at a product review prior to making a purchase.”
Garter, a market research firm, states that “case studies are the first reference document decision-makers turn to when researching a new product”.
Most potential customers are going to be researching you anyways, might as well give them something good to read about.
Case studies are a low cost and “effective way to identify potential solutions that may address their requirements”, says Anthony James. He continues to say, “For this reason, small businesses owners should consider developing a library of case studies to capitalize on the appetite for such documents.”
Build a Library of Case Studies
As Forbes puts it, case studies are “evergreen”- meaning that it’s marketing material that will stay relevant longer.
Plus, they funnel through the buying chain of customers and give a good prospect list of who is actually interested in your product. “Marketing Charts found that case studies help convert the most leads for B2B companies.”
Though a case study is created for your own marketing needs, it comes from a desire to learn- what did we do right? What can we do better? As Switchvideo puts it, “case studies end up being one part promotional material and two parts market research”, as they should be. It’s a marketing tactic that spits back direct feedback from customers.
That being said, below are seven tips to help you get a start on building that library.
Tips and Tricks
1. Have a list of a few key questions written out.
Probably no more than 10. Use those to guide the conversation but certainly ask more clarifying questions as needed. Email application/statistically based questions before hand. For example: a question that could benefit the interviewee time to reflect on beforehand could be “How does your team use our service or product?” or “What are the overall feelings within your company in regards to our service or product?”, or even, “Has our product or service helped increase productivity? If so, by what percentage? (estimates are acceptable)”. Questions like these require some research and asking of other employees or coworkers.
2. Make an audio recording of your interview.
Doing so allows for multiple reviews of the interview in order to get all the information. It makes the interview itself a lot less stressful so you don’t feel like you have to write every little thing down. Just a recommendation- soon after the interview, write an idea dump including the major key points from the conversation, and then go back and let the audio recording help fill in the gaps and reorganize, summarize and edit.
3. Pull the customers’ voice into your voice.
Researching their website, and finding their background story pages helps give you a feel for the company. Using some of the phrasing and language they use, pulls the customers’ voice into the piece, helping it to have a personality that reflects the company. This case study is all about them after all, correct? For example, we just recently finished a case study for Eyebobs, a designer glasses company. There were a couple play on words added like: “catching their vision” but also threw in phrases from their website such as “irreverent and slightly jaded”. A couple months ago we completed a case study for Dogtopia, a doggy day care facility. We included some phrases from their website such as their moto to make sure their dog has “the most exciting day ever”, or a pun with their type of company at the end: “We look forward in continuing to be there as Dogtopia proceeds to expand in the dog-eat-dog world.”
4. Use a variety of clients/projects.
If you have multiple types of companies to whom you cater, try and select companies from each area so that a wide variety of your capabilities are showcased. Or, as new projects are done, ask those clients if they’d be interested in allowing you to interview them for a case study. Kristie Ritchie, VP of marketing at Upshot, says that case studies "should be crafted anytime a marketer or company tries something new or innovates the brand, product or its approach”.
Case studies are being used to attract new customers, so they should include examples that are relevant to the audience. “Case studies are meant to mirror the diversity of customers to make it easier for customers to see themselves or their use case,” says Sam Balter, senior marketing manager at HubSpot.
5. Use direct quotes.
Many looking to invest in a company go and search reviews before making a decision. Though a case study is not an unscripted review, using direct quotes from the interview is helpful to add validity to the case study. As stated earlier, “a case study is a direct endorsement from a satisfied customer,” make sure to use it to your advantage!
6. Remember your audience.
Who is this case study directed to? Think about what questions would they have, and read over the piece and ask if it answers their questions. “The people who end up reading your case studies will be the people most likely to buy from you.”
7. Get it out there.
Promote it according to the purpose for which it was written. If it was written to attract new customers, send it out via social media channels, direct mail, email campaigns, etc. If it was intended to promote a new capability/ service, make sure to send it out to all your current clients and those looking to invest, as well as including the modes as mentioned above for the audience to whom the service would be relevant.
Just throwing this out there, but writing case studies is my personal favorite among the midst of marketing tasks and projects. Though they normally take longer to create and edit than blogs, hearing genuine feedback and seeing how much your service or product helped someone or a group of people is always a great boost.
It encourages a marketing team to discover what else can be done so that all clients or customers could have as great of a positive experience as did the person whom was interviewed.
Thanks for reading!