Marketing is all about telling stories and a case study is a type of story about a customer who had a problem until they bought your solution. Case studies are very effective ways to market your business because the prospective buyers in your sales funnel see themselves in these stories and it helps to convince them to buy from you.
Here are 5 ways to use case studies in your marketing:
1. Case studies as separate, formal documents
If you have a great story about a customer who had a problem until they bought your product or service, you can write up your case study into a separate document – a nicely-designed one-page PDF is perfect! – and add it to your marketing collateral. Make them available on your website for download and send them to prospective buyers from time to time.
2. Case studies as informal stories
These are easy and fun to write and you should make it a point to write this kind of case study for every customer you have. Just create a one-paragraph story about the customer’s previous problem and the benefits they received when they bought from you. It’s very similar to the more formal version (above) but these stories can be used more broadly – in blogs, in emails, in conversations, in your sales letters, in your brochures, in your ebooks, etc. Keep these case studies in a file so you can pull from them whenever you need to.
Testimonials are a type of case study… from the customer’s perspective. When you work with a customer, ask them for a testimonial and post it on your website. (Check out testimonials from my clients). Use these testimonials everywhere!
4. Fictional case studies
The idea of using fictional case studies might upset some readers but they are a very common technique in marketing and sales copy writing. The famous sales copy headline “They laughed when I sat down at the piano but when I started to play!” is a case study… it’s just a fictional one. These types of case studies should be truthful, even if they are fictional. (That is, they shouldn’t be that different from the real benefits experienced by real customers). Be careful when using these case studies… they are acceptable as highly valuable marketing and sales copy techniques but they shouldn’t be presented as real case studies.
5. Case studies of NON-customers
Here’s a great way to use case studies: You can write case studies but they don’t have to be about your customers. Typically, these case studies are negative case studies, highlighting situations where the person or business didn’t follow through with a solution and suffered the consequences. These are frequently used in business books where the author wants to compare a positive case study and a negative case study. In a financial book I’m reading right now, the author highlights Bre-X as a company that did not use proper accounting methods. It’s a negative case study. Note: Don’t identify specific prospects who didn’t buy from you!
Case study tips
- Categorize your case studies by problem and also by industry so that you can find them quickly and send them to the right targeted prospects.
- Not all of your case studies need to have your customer’s name in them. Sometimes a customer doesn’t want their name in a case study. However, you can say something like “A customer who is a leader in the automotive sector…” or “A customer who is a multinational insurance company…”. Some of your case studies SHOULD have a customer name, though, just to add credibility. Your most formal case studies and your testimonials should use the customer’s name, especially if they are well-known.
- Your case studies will be the most valuable to you when your prospects see themselves in the case study. Therefore, make sure the problems are realistic and the benefits are achievable. One case study with amazing results will be less valuable to you than three or four case studies with realistic results.