Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Making Your Case: 7 Keys to a Strong Case Study

Everybody loves a good story, and your prospects are no exception. That's why case studies are so effective. Unlike marketing pieces that focus solely on product features and benefits, case studies present true stories with relatable characters and real-world challenges. A well-produced case study reads like a feature story in a business magazine. It paints your company in a positive light, but it doesn̢۪t go overboard. Instead it tells a credible story (backed by facts) readers are compelled to hear. So how do you achieve this goal? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Introduce the customer. Start your case study with a few details about the customer you helped and their business. Who are they? What do they do? What markets do they serve? Who are their key players?

Explain what brought them to you. What was the challenge they were facing? What prompted their decision to seek help? And why did they choose you to help them, rather than your competitor?

Be specific when describing the challenges your customer faced. If numbers are available, use them. They'll not only make the study more interesting to read but will also provide an added level of credibility and urgency to the situation.

Discuss the process. What steps did you take to solve the customer's challenge? Who was involved? Why did you choose one option over another? Think like a reporter, and provide details, so readers get a sense of being there "behind the scenes" as decisions were made.

Show tangible, real-world results. As with your earlier explanation of the challenge being faced, the more numbers you can provide to support the results of your effort, the more effective your case study will be in persuading prospective customers that your products or services can produce similar success for them.

Use the customer's own words to tell the story. Ask your customer to provide you with quotes you can use in the case study. Better yet, have whoever's writing the piece interview key players at the client company as part of the process. Quotes add credibility and will give the case study more of an authentic, feature article feel.

Make it applicable. Readers will relate to your case studies better if they can see themselves in the companies you're profiling and the challenges you've helped them overcome. Choose customers with compelling stories, measurable results, and broad appeal. If you serve several niche markets, create separate case studies for each.

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