In 2023, when anyone can churn out a basic article with the help of an AI text generator (and I’m not saying you should never do this), sharing original stories has become one of the best ways to stand out in the market.
This is where case studies come in. They’re nothing new but they are easy to create, they’re a cost-effective marketing strategy and they tell a one-of-a-kind story.
The case for case studies
Sure, you can use AI to write some basic how-tos and info sheets (please don’t forget to fact-check and optimise for your brand, or get someone else to do so).
The thing is, Google is not a fan of generic content. What’s more, if you’re producing the same things as everybody else, your posts will drown in an ocean of same/same.
When you share a case study, you’re telling a story that the world has never heard before. It’s personal, it’s authentic and it has the amazing power to build awareness and credibility.
According to some of the latest research from HubSpot, while business-focused blogs and articles still rate highly amongst marketers, case studies sit comfortably in the top six media formats that are reported to have the highest ROI.
How to write a case study
The beauty of a case study is that the story tells itself. You don’t need a huge amount of research; just a good writer and a few minutes from one or two key stakeholders.
Even the format is an easy one. Here is the formula to follow:
#1 Introduce the client. You don’t have to name names. Talk about who they are and the challenges they came to you with. For example: “Jim and Joelene had been managing their business bookkeeping between them but at tax time they realised they were in over their heads. They needed help to reconcile accounts, figure out how much they had earned and see a clear picture of their expenses.”
#2 Explain the problem. What had stopped your clients from solving this issue in the past and what impact was it having on their business?
#3 Discuss the solution. Here’s where you explain what your business did and how it did it.
#4 Clarify the outcome. “As a result of our services, Jim and Joelene could see how their business was performing and file their tax return with confidence. We ‘decluttered’ their Xero account and showed them how to use it properly so they didn’t find themselves confused and scrambling to submit their BAS at the end of every quarter. They also realised that by outsourcing their bookkeeping, they could focus on more important things in their business.”
The more you can share measurable outcomes, the better. Try to find out how much time, money or manpower was saved as a result of your business’s involvement with this client, and share this in the case study.
#5 Share feedback. In an ideal world, your case study will include an interview with the client. If they don’t have time for a longer chat, a testimonial helps to cement the credibility of your story.
#6 Call to action. This is marketing, after all. Summarise why your business was the right choice for this customer and invite the reader to call you, book an appointment, request a quote or access a free download.
A final step
Don’t forget to share your case study!
Post it on social media, add it to your website, include excerpts in your pitch deck or tutorials and share it in your newsletter.
When you post on social media, include relevant hashtags and ask the client if you can @mention them. This will expose your content to their audience as well as your own.
How many case studies is enough?
Include case studies as part of your content schedule so you can keep up that all-important visibility and engagement. A monthly case study is fantastic, but a quarterly article will work fine to showcase your team’s talent’s and capabilities.
Who will write my case studies?
The fastest way to produce case studies is to assign the job to a writer. Ask them to speak to the relevant stakeholders on the phone or at least get in touch for a few bullet points they can use to flesh out the article.
Brief your team and your clients before they take a call so they know what they will be talking about. A 20-minute conversation should be all that’s necessary to flesh out an article.
The reason it’s best to outsource a case study to a writer is that they have the time to focus on the job (case studies are a frustrating interruption for business development managers and marketing managers often have other things on their plate) and they know the right questions to ask to create a succinct but informative masterpiece of original content.
And that word ‘original’ is key! Nobody can reproduce your case study because it only applies to your business… that’s a #win.
Need help to create case studies for your business? Get in touch today.
Clea Jones is a freelance writer who helps small businesses and sole traders to get noticed online.