Case studies are becoming an increasingly necessary part of your company’s public profile. They are an excellent way to present your organization’s stats, work samples, and approaches in an engaging manner that weaves this data and information together with more of a story-telling feel than a dry report vibe.
The studies serve as a great connector to potential clients and customers, be they direct consumers or of the B2B variety. Explaining a challenge that you’ve faced, a problem that you’ve solved, or the thinking behind a successful campaign that you’ve launched is the type of shared experience that goes directly to the core of who we are as people. A famous quote by the late, great writer Maya Angelou reminds us that, to paraphrase, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And while this may seem counter-intuitive in regards to a case study – because it is by definition a way of telling people what you have done – the best case studies get beneath this surface level. They resonate with people in that oh-so-powerful way: ‘I’ve been there. I’ve felt that anxiety when I was faced with a big assignment. I understand that sense of searching for the right solution in a sea of seemingly endless possibilities.’
Many organizations already use a mix of content that utilizes some expression of company philosophy, video, and info-graphics, all of which can be incorporated into an effective case study. Reviewing the amount of work that you’ve done for a client, from the earliest brainstorming stages to the most recent progress, will give you the natural outline for your case study. This doesn’t mean that you are obligated to tell the story in a chronological order, but it gives you the plot points. The photo collection displays that people assemble and exhibit so successfully at milestone events — a graduation, a wedding, a life celebration — make a good analogy to a case study. They tell a story of development, of funny moments, of triumphs, of discovery, of change. People gravitate to them at these events because of their strong emotional appeal and the way that they convey so much information in a succinct and powerful way.
The traditional outline for a case study usually includes a short title, an overview of your client’s business profile; the marketing problems they faced and oftentimes the challenges you faced in developing your approach; the solution you ultimately implemented; the results you produced along with a testimonial by the client if possible; and, finally, a call to action so others can benefit from the services you used in this case as well as possible other options that you offer that may have not been utilized in this particular case study. The final case study produced by various organizations will obviously look different from each other — just as case studies produced by the same company but for different clients will have variation — but the elements listed here should appear in some way, shape or form.
The benefits of a good case study are becoming increasingly more evident. They can be tailored to be niche-specific, allowing you to present an extremely relevant example for others in the market that you target. They help to establish your organization as a voice of experience and authority. They provide tangible evidence of that about which you preach — serving as the walk to match the talk. They allow your group to frame its business approach and problem-solving acumen with potential clients. They help build a reservoir of data and inform future research for any number of projects you may want to develop.
Case studies bring positives both internally and externally for your own organization. They provide a showcase for your services and methodologies that you can tender to future clients. By their nature, they bring reflection on your practices, what worked well and what you may be able to improve.