The Power of Case Studies

When seeking to build trust with new prospect, case studies can be more effective that sales copy for a couple of reasons:

First, the case study carries with it the feel of a third party endorsement. Prospects feel like they are seeing proof of your companies accomplishments. They can ignore a claim in your brochure as puffery, but it's hard to dismiss the documented success of your clients.

Second, the case study has a better chance of changing misconceptions about your brand. When reading sales materials, prospects often filter out items that don't fit with what they already believe about the company. They only retain those items that fit with their notions.

I remember talking to a buyer who had received and read multiple brochures on the offset printing capabilities of my client. He had used them for photocopy work, but seemed oblivious to the fact that they did offset printing.

When you couch your companies benefits in the story format of a case study, people seem to be willing to adjust their thinking. Being told something indirectly somehow allows them to change their long-held perceptions.

The power of the case study really lies in writing a good story. At the heart of a case study is a decision. An individual or group within an organization is faced with a problem or opportunity about which they must decide. What they consider and how they make that decision are key to the ultimate outcome of the story.

A well-developed case study has three components:

  1. Situation - This would be the company and the dilemma in which is finds itself.
  2. Decision - The decision involves explaining what choices the company had. These should be distinct options along with expectations of risk and reward.
  3. Outcome - This is the closer that shows how the decision affected the company.

Information Gathering is also key to creating a winning case study. The information needed for each case study will vary depending on the individual circumstances, but in general, try to gather the following information:

  • Organization name
  • Type of organization
  • Location of organization
  • Length of time in business
  • Who was faced with the decision?
  • What problem were they trying to solve or opportunity trying to capture?
  • What were their options?
  • What were the perceived risks and rewards of each option?
  • What decision was made?
  • What was involved in implementing decision?
  • What was the outcome in terms of effort, quality of life, and ROI?
  • Up-to-date statement of results

Once you have all this information, all you need to do is write it into a compelling story.