Do you use case studies to influence prospective customers?
My guess is that you do as case studies are one of the most effective ways to soft sell technical products. But are you getting the response you’d expect?
If not, then this tutorial will help.
How to Write Case Studies That Generate Business Leads
Before you start writing the case study, stop for a moment.
- Why do you think we download case studies?
- What value do they offer the reader?
- What part of the decision-making process are the currently at?
- How is your case study different than, for example, your white paper or data sheets?
One way of looking at the case study is that it’s a ‘success story’ that may, or may not, apply to the reader’s situation.
That’s why they’re reading it. They want to know: If I work with you, will your product or service make my business more productive?
When you consider it from this angle, you can start to write the case study with these needs, hopes and concerns in mind:
- Identify pain points. What problems do I, your reader, have? What are the main issues I face and how can you solve them? More than that, can you show me that you empathize with my situation and will work with me to resolve this? Even if I can’t clarify or articulate my requirements as well as I’d like?
- Emphasize values. One way you can show me this is by sharing your values. I don’t mean the corporate jargon I’ve come to expect, but the values that under-pin your business. Look for ways to show me that you care about my issues, for example, by assisting local projects or non-profit initiatives.
- Use plain language writing techniques. If you want to connect with me, a person in an office who has been commissioned to investigate this issue, then use a natural language that speaks to me. Use analogies, references and examples I can relate to. If you’re going to use a template to write the case study, use the format as the framework and then build the text around the headings. Don’t be restricted by the template. Use it to your advantage. And speak naturally.
- Write for humans. Ever read a case study that you felt was written either by a machine or for a machine, maybe a search engine? If you want to SEO your case study, which is fine up to a point, make sure that the downloadable PDF is the correct version, i.e. for humans. No one is going to read a sales document stuffed with keywords and obscure terms designed to attract long-tail searches.
- Give examples. I know you want to do business with me but I’m worried. If you can give me examples of how you’ve worked with other companies, then I’d feel more comfortable. Examples, from different industries, show me how you’ve overcome technical and business issues. It also demonstrates that you can overcome cultural demands. Remember, to format your case study so it highlights where you added value and, if possible, reduced costs.
- Add quotes. Are others willing to vouch for you? References are a great way to prove to me that others are willing to give their name and endorse you. Blend quotes into the narrative to remind the reader how other clients have benefitted from your products. These are much more persuasive than you blowing your own trumpet.
- Use social proof. Along the same lines, you make me feel more confident in you if you can demonstrate where others have given your products awards, asked you to make keynote speeches, or included you in leading magazines. Social proof shows me that others have assessed your abilities and endorsed the quality of your products. Other examples are when authority figures, e.g. experts, quote you in their works.
- Continuity. What happened after you deployed the solution? Do you still work with the client? I’d prefer if you did, as it shows you’re in it for the long haul. I’m nervous about working with someone who wants a quick paycheck and then leaves. Continuity shows your reliable, provide value, and are trustworthy. While I can’t see these in your products, I can interpret this from the projects you’ve work on.
As you can see, writing a case study is more about understanding the mindset of the reader that describing your product or service. Start from the angle that the prospect has a problem (or series of problems) and work through each of these in the case study.
Do you see how this differs from the usual approach?
Let me know how you write case studies? Where do you start? What mistakes do you see others make.