A case study is written and visual proof that your company can and will produce exceptional results. Truly phenomenal case studies will be well-rounded promotional content that break down a real-life situation in a way that’s easily digestible for the reader or viewer. As a powerful tool for gaining, retaining, and growing your customer's business, case studies are critical in today's business world.
However, many people still don't understand how to put together a case study or even know where to begin. Seeing that case studies are gaining popularity among brands everywhere, especially as we move more towards internet-based content, learning how to effectively produce one will be vital to your organization's growth.
Are you ready to blast off? Let's dive in!
Start With Conducting the Interview
Hands down, an essential part of putting together your case study, the interview process lays down the foundation for your entire case study. By speaking directly to the customer, you’ll be getting a real-life account of their experience, which will give you a unique insight into the services and how they helped a situation.
You can't produce a killer quality case study without doing this. We recommend using state-of-the-art technology to facilitate the interviews as a best practice. With this, you and your customer will enjoy the ease of communication and likely have access to conduct the case study interview from anywhere in the world.
While conducting the interview, it's essential to stay relaxed and focused on what you're trying to accomplish. You want to capture the essential details of the client's experience, so you have a solid framework to work off of. Make sure to ask questions about their overall experience, what the results were, and how they've benefited since.
As a pro tip, consider hiring a third party to conduct the interview. Coming into the situation with an unbiased opinion, having a third party helps for overall accuracy of the case study. While this is a small and subtle change, it can widely alter the outcome of the interview.
Here are a few examples of some solid, thought-provoking questions to ask in the initial interview:
Can you give us a brief introduction of yourself and what you do?
Were you facing specific challenge that made you choose us?
What kind of solution were you hoping for?
Did the provided solution leave you in a better place?
What hesitations did you have before buying?
By digging into questions like these, you'll be building the framework for a great case study that you can use to continue winning over the business.
We have refined our process down to 15+/- key questions over the years that really pack a punch during the interview process. One trick is to audit your buying process, talk with your salespeople and customer service team. What questions are most commonly asked during the sales process? Once you know those you now have a roadmap of the type of answers you want to extract from your best customers.
Begin Building the Structure of Your Story
Once your interview is done and you've gathered all of the necessary details, you can start to build your story. Now it's time to dig into the overall picture. It's crucial to remember to highlight the client while you're building this out. Emphasize their problem and how you used your unique insight/ skill set to overcome their issue.
Think of the case study as one of your favorite short stories or movies—including a setup, a midpoint, and a resolution. It's crucial that you create a compelling and inspiring story, as this will keep the readers engaged and want to know your case study's outcome.
Keep reading to see how you can build it out.
Start with the setup
Considering your subject's name and industry, elaborate on what drove them to seek your services in particular. Next, describe the products and services they sell—making sure to build a point on how it's relevant to your specific niche or specialty. Then you'll need to address the problem that they faced and discuss why you were a unique expert for this. Money talks, so be sure to address any financial issues that might have arisen from this problem.
While it's common practice to put your setup at the very beginning of your case study, this isn't exactly what Hollywood does to make their dramatic stories. Consider starting with an expose that builds excitement around the overall situation. After that, you can lay down all of the background information that further explains why it’s entirely relevant for your case study.
Think about how much more engaging and exciting your case study will be if you start with the financial pressure that the client is facing rather than all of the details behind it. This is a sure-fire way to grab the reader's attention and keep them locked in for the entire story.
After you've laid out a nice picture of the problem being faced, you can move on to the next part, the confrontation.
Dealing with the Confrontation
This should demonstrate how the client confronted their situation and what led them to seek a solution. Describe why they sought out your services in particular and what you offer that could address their problem. You can keep this part general, as you just want to provide an overview at this point.
Without getting too wrapped up in details and nuances, describe your products and services and why they were an excellent match for this particular client. Typically, this is the easiest part of the case study to put together. All you're trying to do here is describe how your solution could solve your client's problems, while also driving in why you were the perfect candidate to take on their issue.
Resolution - Your Final Piece
Just like your favorite action movie, the resolution is where you'll wrap up your story. In this section, you'll want to recap the entire case study, which can generally be broken down into four different parts.
Explain the Final Events
At what point did the customer utilize your service or solution to make their situation better? How was the solution rolled out? Was it multi-faceted, digital, printed, etc.? Is there any remaining work for the future that still needs to be done?
Show the Numbers
After you've presented the foundation, you can elaborate on the numbers. Make sure to mention if your solution has real quantitative results, for example, a positive ROI. As mentioned earlier, money talks, future clients will want to know this about, and how your service will make them richer in the long run. You can also emphasize the time frame, addressing how long you took to solve this solution, as we all know that time is money.
Highlight Quality of Services
What is the measurement of intangible impact? While monetary value is essential to the bottom line, frequently, companies will launch initiatives that are just designed for customer retention and satisfaction. For example, make a point to mention an increase in customer morale and satisfaction.
You can end your resolution with a closing paragraph or video that describes the overall success of wrapping up the case study and gives a synopsis highlighting the success.
Go Through and Jazz it Up.
Now that you have the structural elements of your case study laid out, clearly telling the picture of the problem, the solution, and the resolution, it's time to go back through and add some pizazz to all parts of your case study. There are multiple ways to do this, but jazzing it up can generally be accomplished through three different elements.
Come up with a Title
Hands down the most influential part of your case study, having an impactful title is of the utmost importance. A highly effective title should create interest in your case study and give a clear overview of what the case study is actually about.
How about a few examples to get your mind working:
How [client name] found success using [company name or service.]
[Client name] increased overall revenue with our [service.]
Sometimes, there will be a situation where you can't name the client because of privacy concerns. If this is the case, you can substitute their name with a general term of their industry. For example, you could come up with a title like this "How a National Health Insurance Giant Increased Customer Retention Using Our Services."
Add in Thought Provoking Headlines
Inviting and captivating, your headlines should be short but provide the relevant information that the reader needs while also being exciting enough to keep reading. A good headline will be specific to the story section that you're telling without causing confusion or being misleading. The most put-together case studies will have strong headlines that address your presentation's main areas: the challenge, solution, and resolution.
Quotes from your customers can be one of your service's most vital selling points. Think about it, how many people read a yelp review of a restaurant before deciding to eat there or not? In fact, 93% of people read reviews of a particular company, before they decide to being their business to them.
Real-life testimonials are a unique human-centric touch on your case study that is shown as living proof that your company is truly capable of accomplishing great things, and solving problems.
To make quotes stand out, you can even incorporate them into the design aspects of your case study to make a point much more robust. You can make them extra-large, bold, or even spoken over a video recap—the more creative, the better. With the customer's permission, you can even ghost write the testimonials, as long as your client signs off on what you want to say.
Furthermore, there's a wide range of how to utilize these testimonials, and they can be pushed out to multiple formats. For example, a great testimonial shouldn’t necessarily just be written text. It can double or triple-up to be used in video and audio, giving you a more robust usage of a valuable testimonial. With this, you can reach consumers on a broader range of platforms such as radio or T.V.
Let's Wrap This Up
Case studies are hands down the most effective and efficient way to tell a story, with the intent of gaining more business or keeping your client base engaged with your company. A proper case study will lay out a story just like a great movie does, with your company as the superhero of the flick.
It's essential to remember that a case study doesn't have to be text. Commonly, the most compelling case studies will be a video recap or a presentation. Having high-quality and impactful visuals to go along with your story will only strengthen your points and provide further proof of your organization's capabilities.
Using all of the tips and tricks highlighted here, you’ll be able to create an attention-grabbing, bullet-proof case study that is sure to keep your business moving up the chain.