A case study is an intricate look into how your company solved a certain problem for a customer, and thus, is a before and after explanation of how you helped with supporting facts and figures. You’re illustrating not only how your implementation works, but also how well it works.
E.g. Before enlisting the use of our machinery, it took Johnson Industrial 12 hours to complete their projects. But now, it only takes them eight. Here’s how we did it..
Providing these real world examples of how you helped customers is like testimonials on steroids. Odds are, if there is one customer with a need you are solving, there are probably many others experiencing the same issues. When prospective customers in similar situations can see exactly how you provided a solution that works, it makes them more likely to buy: “if it worked for this company, why wouldn’t it work for ours?”
This is why as of this writing, 69 percent of B2B companies use case studies in their marketing efforts. The best way to sell something is by telling a story; and a thoroughly constructed case study is without a doubt the best way to accomplish this.
In this article we’ll go through exactly what you need to know when putting together your own case study and highlight certain examples of successful case studies throughout the business world. Our hope is that this will give you direction on either creating your very first case study, or adding or improving to existing case studies that you already have.
If at this point creating your own case study seems like a gargantuan task, don’t fret. Just because you didn’t go to business school, or have never created a case study, doesn’t mean you can’t create one yourself. People just like you create their own case studies everyday, and this article will help guide you through it.
Where To Start
The best place to start is by collecting feedback from your current customers - basically, you’re going beyond a basic testimonial. Try to set up a phone call or zoom appointment with a customer who you know is ecstatic about the products or solutions you’re providing and try to get as many details as you can from them in terms of sheer data:
- It used to cost them $10, but now it costs them $6.
- It used to take 15 hours, but now it takes nine hours.
- They used to have a 72% retention rate, but now they have an 85% retention rate.
- They used to charge $5,000, but now they can charge $8,000.
The type of data you are able to collect will without a doubt vary depending on your industry and niche. What we’re trying to get at is you being able to ascertain the problem and the solution, or the before and after from the customer you are speaking with.
While the numbers are the basis for your case study, it is important for you to go deeper. For example, if something used to cost a customer $10, but now costs them $6; why did it cost them $10 before they started doing business with you? “We used to have to do it this way which cost us more time and money because we’d have to go through X in order to set up Y.” Remember this is valuable because as we said earlier, if one customer is experiencing a problem, odds are there are thousands of other potential customers who are having the same troubles.
Building Your Case Study
Believe it or not, obtaining the data in order to create an influential case study is the hardest part of the process. Once you have collected all the necessary information, it is now up to your content creation skills. You can get as splashy, or as simple as you’d like. One page case studies work fine and can usually be done without enlisting the help of a designer.
Here is an example of a one page case study. You can see how if you at least know your way around a word processor, this is something that can be constructed with a very minimal investment in a relatively short amount of time. And to be quite honest, you don’t need any images at all; here is another example of a case study with nothing more than copy. On the other end of the spectrum, you could create an entire slide deck to use. Our advice: stay in line with the look and feel of your company’s marketing collateral and keep your ideal customer in mind when creating your case study.
For the sake of this article, we’re focusing on more of the foundation of putting together a case study than we are about the design. However, here at Foremost we’re well versed in putting together eye opening case studies that convert, and would be more than happy to assist you if you’d like to spice up your data with some illuminating pitch decks, graphics, or one pagers. If a custom built, branded case study is not in your budget, but you’d still like a little flare, then we encourage you to do an online search for case study templates. There are literally dozens to choose from and you should be able to find something that aligns with your brand.
Now it’s time to start telling your success story. A good place to start is by giving an overview or executive summary of the company that you have helped. What do they do? How long have they been in business? Who do they serve? And then getting into the nitty gritty of the problem, challenge, or issue they were facing. If you’ve got time, and you want to make your case study a little more robust, you can go further and talk about the challenges that the industry your customer is in is facing as a whole. Doing this will serve as greenlights when and if another potential customer views it who is in the same industry. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate the understanding you have of the customers that you serve and the struggles that they go through..
This is where you come in and explain exactly what you did that helped the customer you are doing the case study on. This part should come natural to you as you are basically explaining what you did, and how you did it well. Here is also a great opportunity to showcase what it’s like working with you. Sentences like “we were able to build a custom tool” - something that shows that you recognize that no two customers are alike and you go out of your way to offer custom tailored solutions to meet the individual needs of each and every one of your customers.
Here is where you explain how the solution you offered to your customer helped solve their problem, and is accompanied by data you received when you collected the information (you can put the numbers either at the beginning or end of your case study). Another addition to your case study that will punch it up is a plain old testimonial from the customer you are writing about, or you could even go as far as including multiple testimonials from some of your customer’s own customers.
How Many Case Studies Do I Need?
This is completely up to you and is usually dependent on the type and amount of customers you serve. A good place to start is to take inventory of your best, and most frequent customers, and then segment that down into the industries they are a part of. If you can get to a case study for each of your most profitable customer industries, that is usually a good place to be. Obviously, the more case studies you can produce, the better. As an example, HubSpot, a Customer Relationship Management tool currently has 296 case studies of companies they’ve helped with measurable results. However, we’re well aware that there are only so many hours in the day, and understand there may be more pressing marketing deliverables that you may have to deal with. You probably don’t have the resources that HubSpot does, but having at least one is better than none; especially if your competitors are implementing case studies themselves. And if they’re not, then that should give you an advantage when buying decisions are being made by potential customers.
A Final Word On Case Studies
According to lendingtree.com, 65.5 percent of businesses fail after 10 years. So if you’re in the 35.5 percent of healthy companies where you think you can or should be creating case studies, that’s a good sign and something that you should take advantage of. The bottom line is that you’re in business because you’re good at what you do, and case studies are a great way to illustrate that and teach potential customers about the impressive results you’ve had with previous customers. You’ve got real world proof that what you’re doing works, and if it works for one company, it can work for another (and another). If you think case studies could help with your marketing efforts, but aren’t sure where to start, feel free to contact us, and start a conversation about not only putting together case studies for your business, but how and where to implement them, as well as other areas including strategy, branding, SEO, or site redesign.