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What makes a good case study a great case study?

Lets face it. Most case studies are deathly dull. There's nothing worse than reading 2-4 sides of sales propaganda, thinly disguised as a customer success story with few facts and no figures to back up the claims.

We've all seen (or written!) enough of these and it's time to stop the rot! Here are some key pointers for great case studies.

Set expectations

Make sure your customers know you are planning to reference them and how you are planning to do so. If possible, ensure that you build ‘case study/reference’ into standard contracts - and use this at the negotiation stage in return for any discounts. Find out, ahead of time, what the sign off procedures and who the authorised spokespeople are.

Plan ahead

What metrics matter? How will you demonstrate the value you deliver? Work with your PS team or internal champion to understand the business case for the project and make sure metrics are captured as things progress. They will be the hub of your story.

Is it ready yet?

Has the customer achieved value from implementing your solution? If not it's probably too early for a case study. A different format like a press release (if it's a well-known name or high value deal) or a testimonial from the customer will deliver a valuable message in a more succinct way, until you can create your case study.

Arm your sales team

Give your sales team a cheat sheet of typical case study questions. The more they know and can prepare the customer for what’s needed, the better. Chances are, your sales guys, sales engineers or implementation team will be able to provide a lot of the information upfront, making the ‘client interview’ much less demanding.

Make it personal

People want to read stories about other people - especially those in similar situations to themselves. Telling a story about a real person - outlining the challenges they faced and how they overcame them is a lot more appealing than a corporate spiel.

Don't make it too glossy. Not every decision is right the first time. Highlighting errors made along the way is a good way to make the story more realistic and interesting. Remember the key point here; it’s about them, not you or your product.

Use different formats

Ideally get the story into multiple formats. Video is highly accessible these days and podcasts (sound only) can be an alternative option. Capture your customers’ conference presentations and make them available in video format or share the decks on SlideShare (with the relevant permissions).

Spreading the word

Part of the approvals process with the client is around the promotion of the case study. Where and how will you promote it? It’s not been written or produced to sit on a shelf, gather dust like those glass awards across the office – it exists to show your company’s expertise and the value you delivered for the client. Your case study (in multiple formats) should take up a spot or two (or three or four) on your content calendar. Which persona will it appeal to? What stage in the buying cycle is it relevant to?

A case study isn’t something that you do as a ‘one-off’ activity. You should have a pipeline of upcoming case studies and ideas for how you’ll make use of them in your sales and marketing plans.

Writing case studies often gets pushed down the priority list, because it’s not the most glamorous activity in a marketers’ day. That’s where we could help. From providing you with the right copywriter and designer to creating a plan for promotion, Marketing Fusion can take away the burden and just deliver – leaving you to focus on your main priorities. 

We are here to help. If you need help in creating great marketing content why not try our free marketing assessment.

Start with a free marketing assessment

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